A mosque in the US state of Missouri was burned to the ground in an apparent arson attack. The attack comes during the holy month of Ramadan, and around a month after the same mosque was the site of an arson attempt on July 4, which is US Independence Day.
News of the mosque’s destruction hit a raw nation on Monday, coming a day after US Army veteran Wade Page murdered six worshipers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee on Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel painted a grizzly picture of the scene. The president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, was killed in an attempt to stop Page, a bloody worshiper wandered into a nearby neighborhood looking for help, and a group of women were left in a kitchen pantry for almost an hour as they waited in terror.
At a press conference on Monday, the US Attorney for the eastern district of Wisconsin area James L. Santelle reminded the audience that after September 11, 2001, one of the first people murdered in retaliation was Sikh Balbir Singh Sodhi who was mistaken as a Muslim at his work place in Mesa, Arizona.
It is not clear if Islamophobia played a role in the Page shooting. However, the possibility of racial motivation is being investigated, as FBI Special Agent Teresa Carlson said the FBI is “looking into ties to white supremacist groups.”
Sikh people have been in the United States for over 100 years. According to Professor Gurrinder Singh Mann, the community faced racism immediately after coming to the United States but have succeeded in building a vibrant diaspora that has grown to 250,000 people.
Authorities also pointed out that the gun was purchased legally, feeding into a broader debate about the control of firearms in the United States.
“We consider the Sikh community our partners,” Edwards said, echoing the rest of the speakers at the press conference “and this is a tragedy for all.”