Church Attack in Charleston Leaves Hindu Americans Heartbroken

Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2015) -- The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) joined the country in mourning the deaths of six women and three men late last night at one of America's oldest and most revered African American churches, the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Church, also known as Mother Emanuel, has been a prominent voice for social justice in the United States dating back to the 19th century, and hosted the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1962 during the Civil Rights Movement.

“That such a senseless act of hate should occur in a house of worship, where thousands have gathered in prayer and peace, is all the more tragic,” said Suhag Shukla, HAF’s Executive Director. “This latest tragedy demands introspection from all corners of America. Yesterday’s pain shouldn’t just be felt by the Emmanuel community, it must be felt by all communities.”

The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime, and the alleged shooter, Dylan Roof, 21, was apprehended earlier today. The attack in South Carolina follows a pattern of violence targeting houses of worship nationally, motivated by racial, ethnic, and religious animus. In August 2012, a gunman opened fire at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI, killing six people. After a series of attacks and vandalism of Hindu temples in recent months, HAF released a Guide on Temple Safety and Security to help the Hindu community protect itself against cases of violence.

“Our heartfelt prayers are with the congregation of Mother Emanuel and the loved ones left with the looming question of ‘Why?’,” said Murali Balaji, Director of Education at the Foundation.

Photo Credit: New York Times