The murders of six innocent people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin is a result of how misunderstood the centuries-old religion is, Sikhs in Colorado Springs said.
Four members of the local Sikh temple spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13 on Monday about the Sunday shooting that apparently happened because the alleged gunman believed the Sikh religion is connected to terrorism.
Among those speaking with KRDO NewsChannel 13 were the temple's president, the secretary and two teen daughters.
"It is sad," said the temple president, Kulvir Singh Chahal, of the shooting. "We believe in love. We are one religion. Everybody comes from one God."
The local Sikhs said the city has welcomed them and generally treated them well, and hope a similar tragedy won't happen here.
"What I really hope is that this shooting will inspire people to read more, to become aware of other cultures," said member Naureen Singh. "I really hope that people would (want to) learn about (our) religion."
The local Sikhs said the wearing of scarves by women, and of turbans and long facial hair by men, further perpetuates the stereotype of being Muslim, Arab, or terrorists.
"Guys are facing a lot of hatred in schools right now," said Naureen's sister, Serene. "I've seen many of my friends facing a lot of hate crimes toward them, getting bullied after school, simply because of the fact that they look different from others."
The temple's secretary, Nitu Kaur Singh, said Sikhs are peaceful American citizens who want to be treated with the kindness and respect they show to others.
"I've been an Army wife, military wife," she said. "My husband was active duty. He retired in the U.S. Army. He had a turban."
An estimated 200 Sikhs live in the Colorado Springs area. The religion originated during the 15th century in what is now northern India. Sikhism is among the world's most common religions, with about 30 million followers worldwide. 19 million live in India, with about 500,000 in the United States.