Now, Religion in the News—a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from The India Times, May 21, 2003, with the headline: “Sikh Man Becomes Hate Victim in U.S—In a hate crime case, an Indian Sikh immigrant was shot and injured seriously by a group of white men, police have said. Avtar Chiera, 52, a truck driver, was apparently targeted by the white men because of his Sikh religious faith, said Phoenix detective, Tony Morallis.
“Chiera had parked his 18-wheeler when the men pulled up in a small red pickup truck and started yelling: ‘Get out of our country!’
“The men opened fire, hitting Chiera and seriously wounding him. He was not robbed and nothing was taken from the truck, Morales said. The shooting was being investigated as a hate crime, he said. Authorities were still looking for suspects on Tuesday. Chiera, a Phoenix resident, is Sikh and wears a turban and untrimmed beard as part of his faith.
“In Mesa, Arizona, a Sikh man was shot and killed a few days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by a man allegedly angry over the attacks and who mistook Balbir Singh Sodhi for a Muslim. The suspect faces first-degree murder and other charges.
“Guru Roop Kaur Khalsa, a spokeswoman for the Sikh community in Arizona, said that many Arizonans had stood up for the Sikh community since that killing, but Sikhs would need to continue to educate people. ‘We feel sincerely that all faiths are good and everyone should have the right to practice their faith and should not be coerced or victimized because of their faith,’ she said.”
Tom: Dave, a couple of things here: I want to talk about hate crimes, but also I want to address this. You know we’ve said some things about Islam. We’re trying to present those things as truthfully as we can because unless people hear the truth about something, they can’t really respond to it in a way that would be right—would be correct. But people would have problems with that. Just the fact that you are laying out some ideas about Islam, now you’re generating those who already have an antagonism toward things that are different, people’s beliefs, different religions and so on—that we would be inciting them just by doing what we are doing. No, we decry this! This is not the Christian way. You won’t find a scriptural verse that would tell you to do something like this.
Dave: Well, this is a case of what we have been talking about: “Show me your faith by your works.” Well, they certainly didn’t show Christian faith by their works. You don’t do it by shooting people. If someone is wrong, and you really love them, then you would tell them the truth. You want to win them; you want to deliver them from this wrong belief. You don’t want to send them to hell with a bullet.
Tom: Or even coerce them in some way.
Dave: Well yeah, but these guys weren’t interested in that. They were interested in making converts.
Tom: Yeah, this is just bigotry, and…
Dave: However, at the same time, when we decry this, then let’s be honest—it is the Muslims who are killing people all over the world and threatening people that unless they confess there is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his prophet, they will be killed. It’s the Muslims who are killing people all over the world and who have killed people down through history. So that shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle here. And why don’t we hear a little bit more about that? Why don’t people speak out about this? Why do we keep hearing this lie that Islam is peace? And I don’t want to get onto that—one string on our violin here, Tom. But it does concern me.
Tom: Dave, “hate crime”—that’s the way this article began—“In a hate crime case….” Now we have had a number of hate crime cases—some that many will remember—the young man who was gay in Wyoming. That was a hate crime. There was another crime in which the perpetrators, some black young people, killed a young Hispanic man. And again, it looked like it was racially motivated—they didn’t rob him and so on. But it did not end up being a hate crime because they couldn’t prove—no one at the scene…nobody yelled things that sounded like they were racists or whatever. But still, the evidence of blacks against Hispanics brought it into that mindset.
Now, Dave, what I’m getting at here is, what’s a hate crime? It really has to do with the way a person thinks or what he says. But, Dave, in the situation of the young man from Wyoming and then this Hispanic young man—they both are dead; there was murder committed here. But now, somehow the penalty is going to be increased because of what these individuals were thinking or what their motivation was. How can that be just?
Dave: Tom, I don’t know about that. I would say dead is dead, and murder is murder, regardless what your motives. Although they do say, “malice aforethought,” you know, they are trying to mitigate the kind of murder and have degrees of murder. But what about Muhammad saying, “The last day will not come until the Muslims confront the Jews—the Muslims destroy them. Even the rocks and trees will cry out, Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!” Now this is a fact. This is not some obscure idea. This is what they learned in the Mosque. This is what they get in their mother’s milk, okay?
And you want to go to a Palestinian area, so called, what do you hear? They hate the Jews! They are determined to annihilate the Jews, and yet the Jews are forced into trying to make peace with these people. Now we ought to deal with that. This is bad—this is one person. But what about thousands who are being killed and suicide bombers blowing them up? I think we ought to deal with that and we ought to face the fact that this is not just some idea that they have—this is Islam! This is the very heart of Islam, this is the foundation of Islam, and, Tom, I’m warning our country and President Bush and the rest of them, until you face the truth about this you will not have a genuine solution!