rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » 'Wade Michael Page certainly mistook Sikhs for Muslims'

'Wade Michael Page certainly mistook Sikhs for Muslims'

Last updated on: August 8, 2012 11:50 IST

'Wade Michael Page certainly mistook Sikhs for Muslims'

     Next

Next
Aziz Haniffa

Mark Potok, senior fellow at the US-based non-profit civil rights organisation Southern Poverty Law Centre which monitors white supremacist and other hate-groups in America, is convinced that Wade Michael Page targetted innocent Sikh worshippers in the Oak Creek,  Wisconsin, believing they were Muslims.

In an interview with rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa, Potok, who has described Page as a 'white supremacist' and 'frustrated neo-Nazi' in the calibre of Norwegian right wing mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, said in the decades of research the SPLC has conducted, Sikhs have never been a concern to these hate groups, who have always targeted Jews and Blacks and later gays and immigrants, and post-9/11, Muslims in a big way. Page, apparently, had been on the SPLC's radar for the past decade, ever since he was a member of two racist skinhead bands.

Potok, undeniably one of the country's leading experts on the world of domestic extremism, in a blog immediately following the Wisconsin gurdwara massacre, said Page belonged to the white power bands End Apathy and Definite Hate -- a band whose album Violent Victory featured a gruesome drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face.

Excerpts from the interview:

Why do you think Page, who clearly was a hate-filled white supremacist, targetted Sikhs, and that too innocent worshipers in a temple?

My educated guess is that this man almost certainly mistook Sikhs for Muslims. It is the same old story that we see every time -- the same old story we saw with Balbir Singh (Sodhi) and those three murders after 9/11.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Wade Michael Page (Inset) Mark Potok


     Next

'Wade Michael Page is American Anders Breivik'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Just after 9/11, of course, Sikhs were mistaken -- because of their turbans and beards -- for followers of Osama bin Laden and as Muslims. But 10 years since 9/11, when Sikhs in America have made such a concerted effort at outreach and launched education campaigns about what Sikhism is about, how could an Army veteran think that Sikhs are Muslims? Isn't it intriguing that even 10 years after 9/11, these guys could mistake Sikhs for Muslims and perpetrate such a horrific massacre?

The fact that this man apparently can't tell the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, says something about the overall stupidity of the white supremacist movement in this country.

The reality is, they think that white people are 'The most endangered species in the world'. They are fools right. And, they really believe that genocide is being carried out against whites in the United States and in Europe.

And, in a true sense, these people live in a fantasy world, in which they are victims rather than oppressors and the sad truth is they get so caught up in their own propaganda that once in a while, they go out and murder a lot of people. To me, this guy is the American Anders Breivik.

This person was trying to murder as many Muslims as he could and didn't even have the brain cells to be able to tell who is a Muslim and who is not.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Photographs: Reuters

Prev     Next

'The anti-Muslim movement is being driven entirely by opportunistic politicians'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

You did mention that your research on white supremacists and various hate groups have not shown even a semblance of targeting Sikhs, but that Muslims have certainly entered into the lexicon of hate, along with Jews and Blacks?

Absolutely. The anti-Muslim hate, it was caused by 9/11 initially and then really the anti-Muslim movement has been driven in the last two or three years entirely by opportunistic politicians and Islamophobes. Nothing objectively happened.

In 2010, we saw anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States go up by 50 per cent. That was because of the Ground Zero controversy -- the so-called Ground Zero mosque. It was during that fall when we began to see people like Pamela Geller making these claims about Sharia law and that it was going to be imposed on the United States.

There were many other mosque controversies -- the most famous in Murfeesboro, Tennessee, and then in the winter of 2011, Peter King, the Congressman from New York, held those loathsome hearings, which essentially were about what's wrong with Muslims -- the hearings on so-called radical Muslims, domestic Muslims. I believe those are things that are really driving the anti-Muslim movement today.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Photographs: Reuters

Prev     Next

Such attacks will re-occur

Prev     More
Prev

More

But what more could a community like the Sikhs have done to avert this horrific massacre? They have made unprecedented outreach in the past decade to educate the population at large about Sikhism. Is it a case of what do you do with a loner white supremacist like this?

The reality is that most people, who have two brain cells to work together, know that Sikhs are not Muslims -- that they are an entirely different culture and theology. So, a guy like this, I don't know what to say.

The Sikh American Legal Defence and Educational Fund has done a very good job. I know those people and I have spoken at their events. I believe they've done good and solid work in trying to educate people about what Sikhism is all about. So, I don't have any answers. I don't know what could have been done to have prevented such a horrific attack.

So such attacks could recur?

Absolutely.


Image: Bani Kaur holds a candle as she stands with her father Manjeet Kaur during a candle light vigil for victims of a shooting at a Sikh temple, at Cathedral Square in downtown Milwaukee
Photographs: Reuters

Prev     More