October 18, 2017 (Washington, DC) – The Sikh Coalition is proud to report that 25 gurdwaras in the United States have consulted with security experts this year as part of our new campaign to strengthen gurdwara security. In total, committee members and community volunteers representing over 45 gurdwaras have been introduced to security consultants so far in 2017.
Click here to watch a video about the campaign in English and Punjabi.
These experts provide free advice on protecting gurdwaras against shootings, arson and vehicular attacks.
This potentially life-saving advice is highly relevant to the Sikh American community. In late August, a gurdwara in Los Angeles was vandalized with threatening hate graffiti. During the last year, numerous mosques and synagogues have been subjected to arson attacks and bomb threats. In 2015, a white supremacist gunman murdered six worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2012, a neo-Nazi gunman opened fire on worshippers at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and permanently injuring several others.
“Sikhs have a long tradition of defending gurdwaras against attacks, and our gurdwara management committees have a responsibility to reduce security risks,” said Sim Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s National Advocacy Manager. “We want to work with gurdwara leaders across the United States to do our best to prevent a repeat of the Oak Creek tragedy.”
In response to increasing hate crimes against religious minorities and their places of worship in the United States, the Sikh Coalition distributed a Gurdwara Security Toolkit by email and mail to over 200 gurdwaras nationwide earlier this year.
“A lot of gurdwaras are lacking security measures and it is better to be prepared now than later. Every gurdwara should use this opportunity,” said Satnam Singh, a member of Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Since the program launch, we have followed up with dozens of gurdwara management committee members over the phone, urging them to schedule free consultations with security experts from the Office of Infrastructure Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“I absolutely recommend participating in this program with the Sikh Coalition,” said Harsharan Kaur, a member of Guru Nanak Foundation of America, which is in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I think a lot of us have been sleepwalking through this issue, and this program was really a wake up call.”
1. Share at Gurdwara – Please share our Gurdwara Security Toolkit with your gurdwara management committee, and ask them to establish a working group on facility security.
2. Share on Social Media – Please share the toolkit on social media, and help us create awareness and dialogue about the need to secure gurdwaras.
3. Schedule a Consultation – Schedule a security consultation for your gurdwara by contacting Community Development Manager Aasees Kaur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.