News that a gunman killed at least six people Sunday inside a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee stirred fears in the metro Detroit Sikh community that the religion once again may have been targeted with a misdirected hate crime.
"They think we are Muslims," said Amrinder Singh, who was praying Sunday at the Sikh Society of Michigan in Madison Heights when news spread about the attack on an Oak Creek, Wis., temple.
Authorities are treating the shootings like domestic terrorism.
Educating others about their faith has been a top priority of the Sikh community since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks provoked more than 700 incidents of hate crimes against Sikhs nationwide, according to the Washington-based Sikh Coalition.
Observant Sikh men can be confused with Muslims because they wear full beards and turbans.
Earlier this year, anti-Muslim graffiti was sprayed on a new temple in Sterling Heights that the Madison Heights group is building, Singh said. The graffiti included a cross, a pistol and several misspelled words, including "Don't Builed" and "Mohmed."
"No matter what the house of worship, we all pray to the same creator," said Tirlochan Singh, a member of the Canton Sikh temple