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August 10th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Holder calls Sikh temple shooting a hate crime

By the CNN Wire Staff

Oak Creek, Wisconsin (CNN) - In the strongest denunciation to date by a U.S. law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday labeled the attack on a Sikh temple that killed six Sikhs "an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime."

Holder spoke at an emotional memorial service for the victims of the attack that emphasized healing and forgiveness instead of retribution for the shooting rampage by an Army veteran who killed himself after being wounded by police gunfire.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sikhs in America have been targeted by revenge-seekers who apparently have mistaken them for Muslims, perhaps due to the traditional turbans they wear and their dark skin.

"In the recent past, too many Sikhs have been targeted, victimized simply because of how they looked and what they believed," Holder said Friday.

He called for a discussion on changing laws to prevent future shooting attacks, as well as looking at how to change hearts filled with hatred.

Holder also declared the attack at the Sikh gurdwara, or house of worship, in a Milwaukee suburb to be "an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime." Officials have previously called it a case of domestic terrorism, but said they were investigating the motive.

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Filed under: Discrimination • How we look • Religion • Who we are
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