Utah Sikhs are justifiably nervous this week after Sunday's murderous rampage against their fellow believers in Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean they are arming themselves for defense.
Leaders in the Sikh Temple of Taylorsville asked for additional security measures during a wedding and services this weekend, and the Unified Police Department has agreed to provide them, Lt. Justin Hoyal, a department spokesman, said Tuesday.
There are an estimated 250 Sikh families in Utah or about 800 to 1,000 people, and their numbers have been growing since a handful of families arrived in the 1980s.
Many of them were at the temple Sunday when they heard a gunman killed six people before being killed by police, said P.J. Singh, who owns two Indian restaurants with his brother. "We prayed for the people who died and sought guidance of God during this period of grief."
The Wisconsin attack "was a sad situation for us," said Tarlochan Singh Gill, secretary on the Utah temple's board of trustees. "Our priest knew the priest there who was killed during the shootout. They went to school together."
On Monday, Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor, and his wife, Mary Kaye Huntsman, joined 15 to 20 Sikhs at the temple to offer his condolences and pray for the deceased, Gill said. The move was initiated by Mary Kaye Huntsman, who feels a kinship with the group because of their adopted daughter who is from India.
Utah Sikhs have no plans to take up arms to defend themselves, Gill said.
"We will never do that [get guns]. We will let agencies investigate the crime," he said. "But we will ask the government to control guns better. We may have a different religion, but we are Americans. We have a problem in our system."
The government monitors Muslims, he said, but not people like James Holmes, the accused Aurora, Colo., theater shooter who amassed more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online.
"Our community would never think of retaliation," Gill said. "We want to maintain our integrity. We love our country."
Gill does hope that all the publicity surrounding the Wisconsin attack might help educate the public about the differences between Sikhs and Muslims.
Sikhism was founded in 15th-century India (now Pakistan) by a man known as Guru Nanak, according to sikhnet.com. It was a time of deep divisions between Hindus and Muslims, which troubled the young man who spent his days discussing religion with holy men from both traditions.
Eventually, Sikhs believe, Nanak received a divine revelation with a single message: universal brotherhood.
In the shooting's wake, Utah's Interfaith Roundtable reiterated the importance of being religiously educated.
"Our Sikh friends are about equality and love of all people," Roundtable Chairwoman Colleen M. Scott said in a release. "Perhaps few people in the U.S. know about the Sikh faith. â¦ By people getting involved with interfaith activities, prejudices, misconceptions and stereotypes will disappear, and the world will be a better place."