West County Reacts to Wisconsin Temple Deadly Shooting
Seven people are dead after a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday. Now, West County religious leaders share concerns as they learn more about the tragedy.
Police reportedly shot and killed the gunman, but have no motive yet for the attack. A police officer was also shot several times, but is expected to live.
It's an incident that's having an effect even in the St. Louis area, including the Dar-Ul-Salam Mosque in West County, at Weidman and Manchester Roads. It's the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis's largest Muslim mosque.
Ghazala Hayat with the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis tells Patch that although Sikhism and Islam are very different religions, they share some similarities the news is sure to affect West County mosque members.
"I'm sure everybody is shocked," Hayat tells Patch. "First we don't know who did this or why they did it. Just a senseless loss of human life."
"Since 9/11, Sikhs in general have been mistook to be Muslim (extremists)," said Raj Ghai, a local Sikh man who manages a cellphone store in Chesterfield. He told Patch on Sunday that he expects local Sikhs to reach out and offer assistance to the gurudwara, or Sikh temple, in Wisconsin. "There will definitely be an outreach."
Ghai noted that it's too soon to know the motivation of the gunman, especially whether confusion between Islamic extremists and Sikhs played a part. But he did note the similiarities among Sikh and Muslim garb, with long beards and turbans.
"We wear the turban for religious reasons," Ghai said. "It's not cultural."
Puran Luthra, president of the Hindu Temple of St. Louis, tells Patch that his temple is saddened by the news.
"It's very sad. It's very sad. It's totally unthinkable," Luthra said. "We're part of the same culture. It's just a different sector, but they're part of our whole culture."
However, he said the deadly shooting is not only concerning because of his religion.
"We are concerned. We are to look at it. We are to be careful," Luthra explained. "We all have to be careful. It's for every church, every mosque, every school these days. I mean these things happen."
As police investigate the active investigation, Luthra said he and members of his congregation are just paying attention.
"Right now, we are just watching and trying to gather. Watching what's going on and what the situation is. We cannot jump on any conclusion unless we know the facts." Luthra tells Patch.
Hayat also said that she was told the Muslim mosque in Milwaukee went on lockdown as a precaution when news of the shooting initially broke.
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