According to the White House, US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have celebrated the ninth anniversary of the 2012 mass shooting at the Oak Creek gurdwara that claimed the lives of seven Sikhs.
The White House said the commemoration took place on Thursday during a meeting with representatives of Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands, in which they discussed tackling hate crimes against Asians.
Six Sikhs were killed in an attack on 5 August 2012, in which four people, including a police officer, were injured and one person died from wounds sustained in the shooting last year.
The shooter, described as a white supremacist, committed suicide by shooting himself when police responded.
Sikh community leaders have welcomed an old tweet by Biden on the anniversary of the Oak Tree Gurdwara attack.
Biden said in his tweet: “Nine years ago today, we witnessed an act of unspeakable hatred in the form of the shooting of 10 people by a white supremacist at a Sikh temple. As we remember those lost in Oak Creek We must stand up to hatred and bigotry and ensure that all are able to practice their faith without fear.”
Rajwant Singh, president of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said: “We are grateful to President Biden for his compassion and a strong stand against hate and violence. The Sikh community was shaken by this tragedy and our community is still reeling from hatred. The rhetoric is being condemned by some political interest groups.”
Gurwin Singh Ahuja, co-founder and executive director of the National Sikh Campaign, said: “Violence against Sikhs had been on the rise for many years. After 9/11 many Americans linked turbans and beards to terrorism and an alarming number of people. Turned to racism and violence against our community.”
“National Sikh Campaign is committed to create positive awareness about Sikhs in this country,” he said.