LOS ANGELES (July 30, 2013) — Late last night on July 29th, the Sikh Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in Riverside, CA, was vandalized in an apparent hate crime. The word ‘terrorist’ was spray painted around the complex.
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) has been in direct contact with Riverside County Sheriff Department, the Riverside Police Department, the FBI and Department of Justice urging them to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
“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. Attacks and vandalism against any of the nation’s houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans. These acts strike the very foundation of religious tolerance, a fundamental freedom this country was built upon,” said SALDEF Executive Director Jasjit Singh. “We call upon local and federal law enforcement agencies to rightfully classify this incident as a hate crime and bring the perpetrators to justice to show that hate and violence are not tolerated in our society.”
According to community members who contacted SALDEF, sometime between late night and this morning the vandalism occurred. No witnesses have come forward yet, but anyone with information regarding this situation should please contact the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department directly.
The Sikh religion was founded in South Asia over 500 years ago by Guru Nanak. There are more than 25 million Sikhs throughout the world and approximately 700,000 adherents of the Sikh religion in the United States. Observant Sikhs are distinguished by dastaars (Sikh turbans), uncut hair, and other articles of faith.
Founded in 1996, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization in the country. SALDEF’s mission is to protect the civil rights of all Americans and ensure a fostering environment in the United States for Sikh Americans. SALDEF empowers Sikh Americans through educational outreach, media relations, leadership development and legal and legislative advocacy. www.saldef.org