New York: Inter-faith groups have condemned the Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting incident, describing it as a "senseless" act of violence on religious freedom and urging the Obama administration to take steps to ensure prevention of hate crimes against religious minorities in the country.
Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) expressed solidarity with the families of victims, who were killed and injured in a shooting spree by an unidentified gunman in the Gurudwara in Oak Creek, Milwaukee on Sunday morning.
"American Muslims stand with their Sikh brothers and sisters in this time of crisis and loss. We condemn this senseless act of violence, pray for those who were killed or injured and offer sincere condolences to their loved ones," CAIR said in a statement.
A woman sits with a candle during a vigil for the victims of the Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting, in Milwaukee on Sunday, August 5, 2012. (AP)
At least six people were killed and several others injured in the shooting that took place as members of the Sikh community were preparing for Sunday morning prayers and traditional meal at the Gurudwara.
The lone gunman was shot at and killed by a police officer, who also sustained injuries in the shooting. The FBI is investigating the incident as an act of "domestic terrorism."
Nevada-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said the community condemns the attack and stands in solidarity with the Sikhs.
"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families and the community is deeply saddened at this tragedy. It is a senseless and shocking violence on a group of worshippers," Zed said.
Sikh advocacy group Sikhs For Justice said that hate crimes have been perpetrated against Sikhs and other religious minorities due to mistaken identity since the September 11 attacks and blamed the Obama administration for failing to take concrete steps to prevent discrimination against minorities.
SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun stressed the need for creating special programmes to spread awareness among Americans about religious minorities. The group said it would approach the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to suggest measures that can be taken for protection of religious minorities in the US.
"It is upon the Obama administration to take concrete measures to prevent future hate crimes against Sikhs or any other religious minority. These attacks have cultivated deep sense of insecurity among the American Sikh community," Pannun said.
SFJ lauded the brave and prompt action taken by the police officer who shot the gunman. The group announced a cash award of 10,000 dollars for the officer.
The New York chapter of the Association of Indian in America (AIA-NY) said Sikhs have made tremendous contributions to the American growth story.
The chapter's president Ranju Batra said the American flag should be flown at half-mast to "grieve what appears to be a senseless act of violence and an attack upon religious freedom being exercised in a house of worship."