(RNS) — A Nassau County Sikh gurdwara under construction in New Hyde Park was vandalized with graffiti declaring “Trump 2024 Make America Great Again!,” according to the Sikh Coalition and law enforcement.
The graffiti was discovered Tuesday (Aug. 3) afternoon at Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York and was reported to the Nassau County Police Department, said Rajanpreet Kaur, a spokesperson for the Sikh Coalition. Since then, the gurdwara retained the Sikh Coalition to assist in the case.
The graffiti also included the phrases “I love Jesus! Only God!” and “this aint ya trap,” followed by an an ethnic slur against Arabs. Sikhs are commonly mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans and often experience anti-Muslim discrimination.
Kaur said Thursday that the Sikh Coalition is engaging with local and federal law enforcement “to ensure every appropriate action is taken to respond to this act of hate.”
A Nassau County Police Department spokesman told Religion News Service on Thursday that no arrest has been made in connection with the vandalism. The graffiti was on the roof, windows and fences, he said.
The Sikh Coalition shared a statement from the gurdwara leadership, stating that despite feeling pain over the vandalism it hopes the incident “will help raise Sikh awareness and bring our diverse Nassau County community closer.”
“For years, we have been looking forward to having a place of worship where our families can pray, be together, and give back to the community that we are so proud to be a part of. It is through humility that we can open doors for discussion and learn from each other,” the statement read.
Gurdwara leaders said they hope their temple can serve as a learning place for children of all backgrounds so they can learn about Sikh history and traditions, as well as receive help on subjects such as math, science, English and art.
“We are grateful that local law enforcement responded promptly and is investigating the role that bias may have played in this act of hate given the clear xenophobic rhetoric. We expect that the authorities will continue to share what they learn when they can,” the statement read.
The Sikh Coalition noted the vandalism occurred days before the ninth anniversary of the Oak Creek gurdwara mass shooting in Wisconsin, when on Aug. 5, 2012, a gunman with links to neo-Nazi groups killed six worshippers.
At the time, it was the worst mass shooting inside an American house of worship in nearly 50 years, the Sikh Coalition said.
Source: Religion News Service, By Alejandra Molina