Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The assholes are at it again. Is it the warmer weather? The feeling of freedom in the air? Or just blue-blood Americanism at it's finest?

via the fresno bee

Vandals spray-painted racist graffiti on the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Fresno over the weekend.

Evidence of the crime remained Sunday as Sikhs gathered for services.

Two large blue scrawls in front of the Sikh Association of Fresno temple warned: "Rags Go Home" and "It's Not Your Country."

Another message -- this one with a religious/cultural slur and a four-letter obscenity -- was scribbled on a rear door.

Outside the door were worshippers' shoes, which had been removed as a sign of respect before entering the temple. Seated with about 50 others in a sunny yard outside the temple, Jaswinder Sra said she has been a member of the Sikh temple since she came to the United States from India in 1991. She works for Fresno County.

"It's not right," she said about the temple vandalism. "We are taxpayers. ... This is something that really hurts us." Association President Harjinder Dhillon, 46, of Fresno, said that he has been in the United States since 1982.

About 30,000 Sikhs live in the Fresno area. Among them are 50 physicians, 100 engineers and business owners. Sikhs are responsible for 27% of Central California's raisin production, Dhillon said.

Still, since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Dhillon has been told to "Go back to Baghdad" or had similar sentiments shouted at him. "They think Iraq or Iran. That's what my feeling is," said Dhillon, who wears a turban and beard.

This weekend was not the first time the temple, on East Dakota Avenue just east of North Fresno Street, has been defaced. Last year, vandals struck five nights in a row, spraying paint and hurling firecrackers at the temple. One fire did minor damage in the rear of the building. Dhillon said he heard about the newly painted hate messages about noon Saturday. He called police right away. Beside his patrol car parked next to the temple in a shaded off-street driveway, Fresno police Sgt. Ronald W. Grimm said officers were dispatched after a call from a passer-by about 9:20 a.m. Sunday.

It was immediately made a high-priority call as either a racial or religious incident, or both. A graffiti specialist would be called in, he said, and there will be extra surveillance.

The congregation turned down an offer to paint over the offensive graffiti for free, opting to do the job itself, Grimm said.

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