Members of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Hamden had just finished their Sunday prayers Sunday morning when they got word that a gunman had entered a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
, a Southington resident who co-founded Sikh Temple, condemned today's shooting.
"It is very sad," he said. "It is ignorant."
While many details are still forthcoming in the Oak Creek investigation, including a motive and the lone gunman's identity, Bharara saw the tragedy as only one thing: a hate crime.
"People do not understand what Sikhism is," he said. "Sometimes we are confused with other religions."
Bharara was alluding to the common misconception that Sikhs are Muslims — due to the fact that Sikhs wear turbans in accordance with their Indian-based faith — and to the extremists who have tarnished that religion's reputation in the post 9/11 world.
The best way to combat that misunderstanding is education, Bharara said. And in light of today's events, he added, mainstream media should launch a series of public education pieces on Sikhs.
Bharara and his fellow Sikhs will also turn to prayer. "Of course, we have to do that," he said.
"May their souls rest in peace," he said of the victims. "Somehow God will provide support for the families who lost their loved ones."
See also coverage from Oak Creek Patch, in the community where the shooting took place:
- from Oak Creek Patch, in the community where the shooting took place.
Updated coverage from Oak Creek, WI can be found here.
Bharara and other members of the Sikh community will gather Monday night at their to pray together.
They will also continue to live their lives in accordance with their faith, and that means they will continue to work toward the betterment of society, with respect for all people and creeds.
For Bharara, a member of the Southington Interfaith Clergy Association who also serves on the board of the local food pantry, Bread for Life, he will continue to support organizations in the community.
"We believe we should live in harmony and support each other," he said.
Bharara is also busy organizing a Hamden Temple, Gurdwara Sachkhand Darbar, which received .
"We are trying to get families together in the greater New Haven and shore area. Word is getting around," he said. "I think, God willing, once we get established, we will be very active and do bigger and better things for the welfare of society as a whole."
Bharara added, "How do you fight evil? With goodness.”
Milford Sikhs Worry About Religious Freedom After Wisconsin Shooting
Malkit Singh Gill, president of the New England Sikh Study Circle in Milford, said it’s unfortunate that religion is the cause for persecution in the land of the free.
“I think this is very tragic,” Gill said. “The country was founded on the belief that there should be no religious persecution.”
Gill said that there are more than 500,000 Sikhs in this country, and their temples are open to anyone, however he is unsure what comes after this.
“I need to be thinking about what the next step is for the temple. We are hard working peace loving people and it’s sad that one person is trying to put fear in to us,” Gill said.
Editor's note: Parts of this article originally were published and .