By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington [US] August 6 (ANI): US President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) met leaders from the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and discussed issues like hate crimes, immigration, and voting rights at the White House in Washington DC.
AAPI also met Vice President Kamal Harris along with other officials from the Biden Administration.
In the opening remarks, Biden called Americans to stand up against hate and bigotry, while standing for the freedom of individuals to practice their faith without fear or danger. The president noted it was the ninth anniversary of the shooting of ten worshipers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Seven people lost their lives in "a hateful act of bigotry at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin," he said.
"Today, we honour everyone impacted by this tragedy. And we think about all the pain during this pandemic, with the rise of hate crimes, harassment, bullying, and other forms of bias against Asian Americans. It seems not to stop," President Biden asserted.
Referring to the shooting at the Oak Creek Gurudwara, Executive Director of Sikh Coalition, Satjeet Kaur told ANI that "it's the ninth anniversary of the shooting at the Oak Creek Gurudwara and all these years, there is a rise of hate crimes in this country against many communities." Kaura who was present for the meeting with President Biden at the White House said, "we are here to talk about it and undertake steps that could reduce these numbers of crime."
President Biden also tweeted early Thursday morning, calling for Americans to stand up against hate and bigotry while standing for the freedom of individuals to practice their faith without fear or danger.
Dr Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said, "We are thankful to President Biden for his compassion and a strong stand against hate and violence. The Sikh community was shaken by this tragedy and our community still is concerned about the hate-filled rhetoric being condoned by some political interest groups."
He further stated, "The White supremacist groups are on the rise in the recent years and are intimidating many other minority groups in America. President Biden and Vice President Harris's stand is unambiguous on this critical issue in this country. This is the most important message that our political leaders can send across the nation and the world."
Gurwin Singh Ahuja, Co-founder and the Executive Director of the National Sikh Campaign, said, "Violence against Sikhs had been on the rise for several years. After 9/11many Americans associated a turban and beard with terrorism and an alarming number of people turned to racism and violence against our community.
Wisconsin Governor also released a statement of remembrance in a tweet as well.
Nine years ago on August 5, a White supremacist gunman walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and opened fire, killing six people. The shooter, identified as a white supremacist walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and began a rampage that killed six people, wounded many, and terrorized an entire community before turning the gun on himself.
The temple in Oak Creek, one of two large Sikh congregations in the Milwaukee area, was founded in 1997 and has over 400 members. There are close to 650,000 Sikhs in America. (ANI)