As Sikhism spread far and wide in the past century, it has been no stranger to discrimination and violence.
Authorities have yet to determine a motive for Sunday's shooting in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, in which an assailant entered a Sikh temple, known as a gurudwara, and gunned down six congregants and wounded three others before himself being killed by police. But many Sikh men keep their unshorn hair tightly wrapped by a turban, which gives them a distinct and recognizable appearance. As a result, increasingly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Sikhs have been mistakenly identified – and occasionally targeted – as Muslims.
The New York-based Sikh Coalition was formed in the wake of such incidents, including one that occurred just days after the 2001 terrorist attacks in which the Sikh owner of a gas station in Mesa, Ariz., was shot and killed, reportedly because the assailant thought he was Muslim.
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