Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Hindus came to Milford from across Massachusetts Monday, to pray together for the victims of a gunman who opened fire Sunday in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
The prayer service and candlelight vigil drew nearly 200 people to . The temple's leaders said they had been receiving flowers all day. People from other faiths said they wanted to join together to show support for the Sikhs.
Nearly 30 Muslims from the Worcester area attended the services, breaking from the fast required during Ramadan by participating in the community meal that followed the services.
Although the motive for the killings is not yet known, the gunman had ties to white supremacist groups, according to national media reports. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., people of Sikh faith have been targeted by people who confuse them for Muslims, because they wear turbans and have beards. The religions have no connection to each other.
Of the 26 million Sikhs in the world, about 1 million live in the U.S. The Sikh turban, called a dastar, is worn as an expression of faith.
Religious minorities are under attack, said Tahir Ali, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester. He led Muslim men in prayer outside the temple. "We wanted to show we stand in solidarity with them," Ali said.
Harsheen Kaur, of Concord, has attended Milford Gurduara Sahib since she was a child. It was important for her to join with her community and others who can relate with the Sikhs. No one should feel threatened in their place of worship, she said.
"We are Americans."
Organizers of the candlelight vigil distributed information for people who want to send a card or flowers to the police officers or Sikh congregation in Wisconsin.
Oak Creek Police Department, 301 West Ryan Road, Oak Creek, WI, 53154
Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, 7512 South Howell Ave., Oak Creek, WI, 53154
A website also has been established to collect money donations for the families of the victims wounded or killed in the Wisconsin shooting.