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January 23, 2018

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What is Sikhism?


associated press

A man wipes away tears outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., where a shooting took place on Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.

Sikhism is the world’s fifth-largest religion with 25 million followers, most of whom are in India, said Rajdeep Singh, director of law and policy for the Sikh Coalition, a civil-rights group. It is a progressive religion that believes in one God and universal equality, he said.

As a matter of tradition, Sikhs do not cut their hair and turbans are worn by men. According to the coalition's website, Sikhism is the only religion that requires members to tie a turban, although some Sikhs may not wear it -- straying from the the religious requirements does not exclude one from the Sikh community.

The Sikh religion advocates the ideas of karma and reincarnation, according to the website.

Especially after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sikhs have experienced increased discrimination and hate crimes as people associate the men’s turbans and unshaved beards with al-Qaida terrorists, Singh said. He said that about 10 percent of Sikhs in New York and California have reported experiencing ethnic slurs and hate crimes, according to a Sikh Coalition study.

Singh said he did not want to speculate on who committed the fatal shooting in Wisconsin and added that it was “utterly tragic.” The coalition’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families, he said.

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