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Was the deadly Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wis., a mistake?

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12 2012 12:17 p.m. MDT

A candle light vigil is held Tuesday Aug. 7, 2012, in Oakr Creek, Wis., for the victims of a mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday. The vigil was held during the national night out event at the Oak Creek Civic Center.

Tom Lynn, Associated Press

Our take: One month ago, Wade Michael Page opened fire at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, killing 6 people. In this guest post on The Washington Post's On Faith blog, Simran Jeet Singh explores the impacts of claiming the shooting was a case of "mistaken identity."

It has been one month since the deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., caught the attention of our entire nation. Americans followed the news for days, and many would later confess that the event helped shatter their stereotypes of what a terrorist looks like.

While modern media and political rhetoric teaches us to typecast terrorists as people with brown skin and bushy beards, the shooting has flipped the script. The terrorist, Wade Michael Page, was a former soldier in the U.S. Army with close ties to neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. The victims were practitioners of the Sikh religion, a group that has long been targeted around the globe due to their distinct religious identity.

The juxtaposition of the two terrorist and terrorized has caused us all to rethink our stereotypes.

In rethinking our stereotypes after the shooting rampage in Oak Creek, the national discourse has centered on the notion of mistaken identity. Analysts and pundits have widely suggested that hate-crimes against Sikhs began in the post-Sept. 11 context due to confusion between Sikhs and Muslims. The popular narrative purports that all hate-violence committed against Sikhs, including the massacre in Oak Creek, is actually intended for Muslims.

Read more about the negative impacts of claiming "mistaken identity" on The Washington Post.

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