WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - The Sacramento region is home to one of the largest Sikh communities in the country.
The West Sacramento Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple held a remembrance prayer service Sunday for the Sikh shooting victims killed one week ago in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
"This attack isn't an attack on the Sikh community. It's an attack on the American way of life. It's an attack on the freedom you have to go Sunday whether you are a Christian, whether you are Sikh," Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple board member Amar Shergill said.
Several lawmakers, Sen. Darrell Steinberg and Assem. Mariko Yamada, joined the Sikh community at the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple.
"All of us joined here today are grieving, but stand in solidarity with this very important part of the community," Yamada said.
Both lawmakers worked closely with the community in the past to promote awareness of the Sikh religion and to promote tolerance of all faiths.
Local Sikh leaders are grateful for their ongoing support.
"Last year, Sen. Darrell Steinberg wore a turban at the capital and said, 'We are all Sikhs.' He led the effort this year," said Shergill.
"The fact is, we are all Sikhs; we are all Muslims; we are all Christians; we are all Jews," Steinberg said. "We are all part of a community that puts respect for the law and for people above anything else."
The Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple helped organize an American Sikh Day on the steps of the Capitol last week at the urging of Steinberg.
Meanwhile, Yamada is leading support for AB 1964, which would prevent discrimination against Sikhs or any faith in the workplace.
"Workplace Religion Freedom Act" would allow for religious articles, such as turbans and uncut hair, in the workplace.
A measure by Assembly Member Perea designates November 2012 as California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. ACR97 would "recognize and acknowledge the significant contributions made by Californians of Sikh heritage to the state and afford all Californians the opportunity to understand, recognize, and appreciate the rich history and shared principles of Sikh Americans."
Worldwide, there are 25 million Sikhs. In the US, there are as many as 700,000 Sikhs. There are an estimated 250,000 Sikhs living in California. Yuba City is home to the largest population of Sikh and Punjabi Americans in the country.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org