Sikh community responds to white nationalist vandalism with interfaith gathering

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ORANGEVALE, Calif. (KTXL) -- Inside Orangevale’s newest Sikh temple, hundreds of people from different backgrounds, religions and races came together.

“We just want to welcome them with open arms,” Dimple Bhullar told FOX40.

Bhullar says the Sikh community put on the open house to introduce themselves to the community.

“We hope that they take away that, you know, we are a very peaceful religion. We are just here to educate them to be one with us, you know,” said Bhullar.

The show of support from neighbors, interfaith leaders and officials comes just two weeks after vandals defaced the place of worship. Swastikas and the words ‘white power’ were spray-painted outside the Sikh temple just days after opening.

“Initially, it was shocking. No one deserves to have any sort of hate like that,” said Bhullar.

The Sikh community believes it was a hate crime but says today was about bringing the community together to rise above the hate.

“We all stand together. We are all one. You know we believe that all religions are equal,” said Bhullar.

Emily Cote visited the Sikh temple for the first time Saturday and told FOX40 it was important for her and others to come and show support.

“The idea is to get to know what people are all about so that you won’t be afraid. Because I think a lot of the attacks come from fear,” said Cote. “If you see that people are nice and welcoming and that there’s nothing scary about what they are practicing in their religion and their lives, I think people will have a better understanding and will come together.”

Since the vandalism, the community has received an outpouring of support from across the community, according to Bhullar. It’s even helped them turn an act of hate into an opportunity to spread love and compassion.

“It just gives us a great sense of humanity that there are good people surrounding us,” said Bhullar. “This language that was intended to divide us has seemed to bring us together.”

U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott was in attendance Saturday and says local law enforcement and the FBI are working to find the person or people responsible.

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