A Sikh community Leader has been invited to offer invocation at the Republican National Convention in Florida, a significant move aimed at providing healing touch to the grieving community in the aftermath of a shootout inside a US Gurdwara that left six worshippers dead.

According to the Republican National Convention’s (RNC) revised schedule announced last evening, Ishwar Singh from the Sikh Society of Central Florida has been invited to offer invocation immediately after the National Anthem is sung by Ayla Brown.

The Sikh Society of Central Florida located in Oviedo, an eastern suburb of Orlando, Florida, has been serving the Sikh Community and around Central Florida for over 25 years and has been running the Orlando Gurdwara.

“I will take Gyanis (priests) from the Gurdwara who will sing Sabad (religious hymns) at the event,” Ishwar Singh told PTI in an interview.

It was a few days ago that Ishwar Singh had approached RNC with a request for invocation during the convention at Tampa in Florida, which would formally nominate Mitt Romney as the Party’s Presidential Candidate.

At that time, he was not given any confirmation but the RNC liked the idea and they told him that they will get back with a formal confirmation.

Later, the RNC revised its schedule including his invocation immediately after the National Anthem.

“It (invitation for invocation) is a good thing for the community in the aftermath of the tragedy in Wisconsin,” Ishwar Singh said, referring to the shootout in Oak Creek Gurdwara on August 5 by a lone gunman alleged to be a white supremacist, which the Sikhs said was a hate crime.

US Attorney General Eric Holder at a Memorial Service for those killed in the shootout had termed it as an act of hate and domestic terrorism.

Mitt Romney’s running mate and Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan had attended the Memorial Service as he represents the Congressional district from Wisconsin.

The First lady, Michelle Obama, last week travelled to Oak Creek to meet the victims and their family members, a gesture which was widely welcomed by the Sikh community.

President Barack Obama had called for “soul searching” following the incident.

Cutting across party lines, lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate have urged the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to include hate crimes against the Sikhs in its registry of hate crimes.

Scores of American non-profit organisations and rights bodies have called for a Congressional hearing on hate crime in view of the Oak Creek Gurdwara tragedy.

(This article was published on August 27, 2012)
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