NEW YORK: A Sikh gurdwara in Riverside in southern California was vandalized on Monday night in what appears to be a hate crime.
The miscreants, who vandalized the Sikh Gurdwara of Riverside, sprayed the words `TERRORIST’ and `TERRISH’ on its boundary walls.
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies visited the gurdwara on Tuesday to inspect the scene and take statement of high priest Anantvirr Singh.
Singh was quoted as saying by the local media that the shrine has been vandalized many times since it opened in 1989. It is the largest Sikh shrine in the area.
Birpal Kaur, who is community relations manager with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) in Los Angeles, was quoted as saying that “this is definitely a hate crime. It was very purposely targeted toward a minority community.’’
SALDEF Executive Director Jasjit Singh said they were in touch with the Riverside County Sheriff Department, the Riverside Police Department, the FBI and the Department of Justice to bring the miscreants to justice.
He said,“It is horrible to see an attack of hate on a place of worship as we reflect on the lives lost one year ago during the attack on the Oak Creek Gurdwara.” Six persons were killed when a white racist went on shooting spree at the Oak Creek gurdwara in Wisconsin on August 5 last year.
In a statement, Riverside Congressman Mark Takano said he was shocked by the incident.
“These types of actions have no place in Riverside County and I have grave concerns about such unfounded, ignorant statements being levied against peaceful members of our community,” Takano said.
The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) also expressed solidarity with the Sikh community following the vandalism at the Riverside Sikh Gurdwara
“We stand in solidarity with the Sikh community and against the actions of a tiny minority of bigots who violate our nation’s longstanding principles of religious tolerance and inclusion,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said in a statement.
“As we have stated many times, an attack on any house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship,” he added.
There are said to be over 70,000 Sikhs in California.