Sikh massacre sparks new debate on safety of American Muslims
Wade Michael Page’s ultimate target probably was Muslims—as has happened many times since 9/11, he mistook the Sikhs for Muslims.
August 14, 2012, 16:25 EST
The August 5th shooting at a Sikh temple has raised the specter of white racism in the United States anew. While Obama has spoken out against the shooting, and members of his administration have labeled it a “hate crime,” many have asked what his response would have been had the shooting victims been American Muslims. They question whether the incident would have been classified as an incident of “domestic terrorism”.
As many have observed, Wade Michael Page’s ultimate target probably was Muslims—as has happened many times since 9/11, he mistook the Sikhs for Muslims. While many Sikhs and media commentators tried to distinguish themselves as a “peaceful religion” on the media, others noted that Page’s misrecognition doesn’t diminish the ethical import of his actions. “Don’t hate me, I’m not a Muslim’ is not a response,” noted Sheila Musaji in an article, “A number of Sikh advocacy groups formed shortly after 9/11, chief among them the Sikh Coalition, were very emphatic on the point that they were opposed to hate crimes directed against any group based on religious hostility.”
Muslims in Wisconsin’s Harford County are seeking additional protection around their mosque Al-Falaah, voicing an increased sense of insecurity and fear after the gurdwara shooting. Mosque president Rehan Khan noted that “Most of the attacks on Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims and that is why the Muslim community is afraid that this might happen to them. We do need to take safety measures and we do need the state and local authorities to take adequate measures to protect our places of worship.”
US Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has recently stoked the fires of the debate by penning an open letter accusing Barack Obama of allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to gain influence in the US government, particularly pointing fingers at Hillary Clinton’s top aid, the half-Pakistani Huma Abedin (wife of disgraced former Representative Anthony Weiner).