Two Sikh American Activists: Let's Retire 'Mistaken Identity'

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In the wake of the massacre at the Sikh gurdwara [house of worship] in Milwaukee, Americans are learning about Sikhs, many for the first time. As two Sikh Americans who have studied and advocated on behalf of our community for the last decade, we were at first encouraged by the national media attention – but now we’re a bit worried.

We hear reporters and officials describe the attack as a case of “mistaken identity,” that Sikh Americans are targeted in hate crimes because they have been confused with Muslims. While it’s true that perpetrators of hate violence against Sikhs tend to harbor hatred for Islam and Muslims, identifying the problem as “mistaken identity” is just plain wrong. “Mistaken identity” implies that there is a “correct” target, and it further implies that hate violence should rightfully be directed at Muslims. This is absolutely unacceptable.

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On Faith

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