Endorsing a Demand for Unity and Accountability

The Arab American Action Network (AAAN) expresses its shock and horror at the killing of the six members of the Oak Creek Gurudwara in Wisconsin. Soon after the shootings, a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, was burned down in an arson.  We mourn with the families, friends, and members of the Sikh community in Oak Creek and across the country and world; and remind everyone that many politicians, members of the media, and self-avowed leaders in the U.S. share responsibility for this tragedy.  


The "War on Terrorism" discourse in this country has accomplished its goal--to criminalize Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and other immigrant communities, including Mexicans, Central Americans, and Latinos in general--just as the "War on Drugs" continues to criminalize African Americans every day.


To justify foreign policy decisions and actions, the U.S. government has established anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant policies, and is responsible for unending state repression against our communities. And although everyone ostensibly has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," these policies declare to the American public that our communities are the "enemy" here in the U.S., and that it is "sensible" to deport undocumented immigrants by the thousands; spy on us in our homes, places of worship, and community centers; place government informants and undercover federal law enforcement agents in our communities; criminalize us for our political viewpoints and speech; entrap innocent people who have not committed any acts of violence; and essentially make our lives increasingly unsafe, unfree, and unhappy.       


In the hours immediately following the killings, reporters and commentators on CNN were sickeningly falling all over themselves to continuously state that "Sikhs are not Muslims," as if the killings of Muslims would have somehow been justified. In addition, politicians and the media have not felt the need to place this killer's act of hate in the context of a longstanding history of white supremacist terrorism against communities of color in the U.S., but as AAAN board member Dr. Louise Cainkar wrote in 2009, the entire country quickly jumped to the conclusion that a mass killing by a psychologically-traumatized member of the U.S. military must have been an act of global terrorism--only because the perpetrator was an Arab who self-identified as a Muslim.  


Below is a statement from our sister organization in NY, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM).  It says what we want to say, and calls for us to continue to fight against racism and national oppression, and for a more just society in the U.S. and across the world.


And there are also articles and websites below from additional friends and partners of ours in the South Asian and Arab communities, including a tool kit published by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), for use in protecting people at places of worship and community centers.

Lastly, the AAAN joined 178 other organizations in signing on to a solidarity statement developed by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and Muslim Advocates.


Hatem Abudayyeh,

for the AAAN




Unity and Accountability

in the Wake of the Wisconsin Gurudwara Shootings


  A Statement by DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving


The members of DRUM-Desis Rising Up & Moving express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with our sisters and brothers of the Sikh community after Sunday's shootings in the Oak Creek Gurudwara in Wisconsin. The shootings have been followed closely by an arson that burned down a mosque in Joplin, Missouri.  


While the shootings have shocked us all, it is unfortunately part of a history of targeting of communities of color that all too often goes unchecked and remains rooted in a national climate bolstered by state policies. This climate of racism and intolerance targeting Sikhs, South Asians, Muslims, Arabs, and Middle Easterners, particularly since 9/11, has been fueled by frequent media distortions, governmental policies of racial and religious profiling, and the rise in hate groups. Yet, the media and public discourse mistakenly puts the Sikh and other religions on the hot seat rather than the vast network of organized hate groups whose impacts have been severe-from attacks on Sikhs and Muslims to crafting of anti-people of color and anti-immigrant legislation like SB1070 in Arizona.


The Southern Poverty Law Center has stated that it had been monitoring the alleged gunman, Wade Michael Page, for over 10 years for his ties to white supremacist groups, attempts to purchase weapons from them, and use of violent lyrics about murdering Jews, black people, gay people, and other communities of color, through his membership in racist skinhead bands. Since the use of racial and religious profiling by law enforcement agencies focuses on identity as a marker of threat, rather than actual acts, (leading to the broad profiling of communities of color, religious minorities, and activist groups), organized white supremacist and hate groups remain largely unchecked. In 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a report on the dangers of right-wing extremism in the US, it received severe backlash from many conservative policy makers. As a result of the criticism, the DHS dismantled and cut funding for the intelligence team that monitored such threats.


As communities of color, we face the double targeting of having our race and religion being used as the basis for state policies of surveillance and policing, as well as the unchecked racist violence and terrorism of organized hate groups.


Our membership will continue to organize among South Asian and all communities of color to hold government policies accountable towards genuine safety, including the ending of racial profiling policies and dismantling of organized racist hate networks.  We extend our support to our Sikh community members and stand in unity with all people who value human rights.


Suggested Readings:

Hate Crimes Always Have A Logic: On The Oak Creek Gurudwara Shootings - Harsha Walia

The Sense of White Supremacy - Vijay Prashad

Not Senseless, Not Random: The Deadly Mix of Race, Guns & Madness - Rinku Sen


Organizational Links:







August 9, 2012

This Friday, August 10th, a memorial service will be held for the six individuals who lost their lives in the tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The undersigned community of civic, faith-based, immigrant rights, and civil rights organizations expresses our deepest condolences to the victims and their families affected by the mass shooting which left six individuals dead, at least three others critically injured, and many others wounded.

We call upon Americans to respond to this tragedy by supporting the families of the victims, and Sikh community members. Over the course of this week, vigils are being planned around the country with the message of "We are all Sikhs." We urge you to stand in support of the Sikh community and the values that bind us at Americans by attending a vigil in your area (a map of vigils can be found here).

While facts are still emerging regarding the motivation of the alleged perpetrator, Wade Michael Page, the massacre at the Sikh temple is part of a history of bias and violence that members of Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have endured in the decade following September 11, 2001. Sadly, community members continue to report discrimination, and places of worship are routinely targeted. Within 24 hours of the Wisconsin shooting, an arson attack destroyed a mosque in Joplin, Missouri. The level of hate and violence inflicted on innocent Americans because of their appearance or religious faith is now at a crisis point.

While our organizations represent a wide swath of individuals from different nationalities, backgrounds, and faiths, we are bound together by a common purpose: we believe in the core American values of religious pluralism, equality, and inclusion. Our collective voices send out the message that as a nation, we must denounce the hate-fueled sentiment and bigoted rhetoric that has become commonplace in our public and political discourse. The essence of our country after all is E pluribus unum: out of many comes a strong, unified one.

We call upon our elected leaders, and civic, faith-based, and educational institutions to take steps to address xenophobia, racism, and anti-religious hate in our country today. We ask President Obama to host a summit that brings stakeholders together to identify concrete solutions. And we urge all individuals, regardless of faith or background, to speak out against bigotry at workplaces, schools, and family kitchen tables. As Americans, we must stand together to protect our nation's values of equality and freedom for all.

Endorsing Organizations (As of August 9, 2012)
If your organization would like to join the statement of solidarity, please email
info@saalt.org with the name of your organization and the subject line
"Oak Creek Solidarity Statement."

Alliance San Diego (aka Equality Alliance)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Florida Chapter (ADC-FL)
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA)
American Muslims for Emergency and Relief (AMER)
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
API Chaya
The Applied Research Center
Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
Arab American Association of New York
Arab American Family Services
Arab American Family Support Center
Arab Muslim American Federation
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF)
Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF)
Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago
Asian American Federation
Asian American Institute, member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
Asian American Justice Center, member of Asian American Center for Advancing
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian American Recovery Services, Inc.
Asian Americans for Community Involvement
Asian Americans for Equality (AAAFE)
Asian Health Coalition
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
Asian Pacific American Network (APAN) of the American College Personnel
Association (ACPA)
Asian Pacific Community in Action
Asian Services in Action, Inc. (ASIA)
Asians Against Domestic Abuse
Auburn Seminary
Bay Area Asian Pacific American Legislative Staffers (BAAPALS)
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition
Causa Justa: Just Cause
Center for American Progress
Center for Social Inclusion
Chhaya CDC
Chicago Area Ethnic Resources
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community
Community to Community Development
Coney Island Avenue Project
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Council of Peoples Organization (COPO)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Arizona Chapter
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Cincinnati Chapter
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Greater Los Angeles Area
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Iowa Chapter (CAIR-Iowa)
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Minnesota (CAIR-MN)
Council on American-Islamic Relations - New York
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Oklahoma Chapter
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Sacramento Valley Office (CAIR-Sacramento Valley)
Council on American-Islamic Relations - San Antonio Chapter (CAIR-SA)
Council on American-Islamic Relations - San Diego Chapter
Council on American-Islamic Relations - San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA) Office
Council on American-Islamic Relations - Texas, DFW Chapter
Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians, Inc.
DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving
Elemental Partners
Faith in Public Life
Families for Freedom
Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.
FICA (Federation of India Community Associations of NE Ohio)
Four Freedoms Forum
Franciscan Action Network
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
Health Through Action Arizona Coalition
Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Human Rights First
Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH)
Indian-American Bar Association of Chicago
Indo-American Center
Indo-American Heritage Museum
Interfaith Alliance
International Organization for Adolescents
Islamic Society of Milwaukee
Islamic Society of North America
Japanese American Citizens League
Japanese American Citizens League - Chicago Chapter
Japanese American Citizens League - Midwest District Council
Japanese American Citizens League - Wisconsin Chapter
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
Laotian American National Alliance (LANA)
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP)
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mai Family Services
Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day)
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY)
Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA)
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum - Greater Phoenix Chapter
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
National Disability Rights Network
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
National Tongan American Society
National Urban League
Natya Dance Theatre
Network of Indian Professionals (NetIP) North America
Network of Arab American Professionals (NAAP)
North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA)
North Carolina Justice Center
OCA - Greater Phoenix Chapter
Ohio Asian American Health Coalition
Oklahoma Conference of Churches
Open Society Foundations
The Opportunity Agenda
Organization of Chinese Americans - Silicon Valley Chapter
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago
Rights Working Group
Saathi of Rochester
Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus
Sakhi for South Asian Women
San Jose State University Asian Pacific Islander Faculty Staff Association
Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority
Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE)
Shama Inc.
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
The Sikh Coalition
Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team
South Asia Society of the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Bar Association of Arizona
South Asian Bar Association of British Columbia
South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY)
South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
South Asian Bar Association of Ohio (SABA Ohio)
South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia (SABA Philadelphia)
South Asian Bar Association of San Diego
South Asian Bar Association of Southern California
South Asian Bar Association of Washington
South Asian Bar Association of Washington, DC
South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS)
South Asian Network
South Asian Progressive Action Collective (SAPAC)
South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!)
Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ)
The Standing Committee for Multicultural Affairs of ACPA - College Student Educators International
Turning Point for Women and Families
United Methodist Women
United We Dream Network
USPAK Foundation
VAMOS Unidos
We Are All Brooklyn (WAAB)

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