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Sikh temple vandalized; leaders call for hate crime investigation

By
Shawn Price
A Sikh temple in Orange County Calif. was vandalized with anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic State graffiti over the weekend. But Sikhs are not Muslims and members of the temple fear for the safety. Police are investigating as a possible hate crime. Photo by Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock
A Sikh temple in Orange County Calif. was vandalized with anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic State graffiti over the weekend. But Sikhs are not Muslims and members of the temple fear for the safety. Police are investigating as a possible hate crime. Photo by Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock

BUENA PARK, Calif., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A Sikh temple parking lot in Orange County, Calif. was vandalized in what is now being investigated as a possible hate crime, police said.

Graffiti was sprayed across the parking lot walls and on a trailer overnight Saturday at the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Buena Park. While some of the graffiti found Sunday morning was illegible and gang-like, other parts of it read "[Expletive] ISIS," and made references to "Islahm."

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"We believe that the Gurdwara Singh Sabha was vandalized because it is a Sikh house of worship," the group's attorney Gurjot Kaur said in a statement.

The vandalism comes just days after the San Bernardino terror attack and less than a month after the Paris attacks. And it's also an illustration of how Sikhs are often misunderstood and persecuted. Sikhs are not Muslim.

The group put up a large banner on the temple to show their unity with the victims of last week's attack that reads: "We are American Sikhs. We pray for the victims of San Bernardino."

Members say since the San Bernardino attack, they are fearful for their safety.

Six Sikhs were killed by a neo-Nazi gunman in 2012, when he walked into a Wisconsin temple and opened fire.

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Buena Park police have increased patrols in the area and will keep officers on site for biweekly prayers.

Sikhs at the temple have welcomed the vandal or vandals to return and pray with them.

"Come to us," said temple member Paran Singh. "We're open and we will tell you who we are,"

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