A Sikh man gunned down in east Mesa days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will be remembered as a symbol of protecting the innocent, religious freedom and diversity on the five-year anniversary of his senseless slaying.
Balbir Singh Sodhi, 49, was a gasoline station owner who emigrated from India. He wore a turban in recognition of his religion and was mistaken as an Arab by gunman Frank Roque, 47, of Mesa.
Sodhi's slaying Sept. 15, 2001, part of a shooting rampage that also targeted a Middle Eastern-owned business and home, became national news and a rallying cry for racial and religious tolerance throughout the Valley.
"We want to honor all those people who stood up and said hate crimes and backlash will not be tolerated in this community," said GuruRoop Kaur Khalsa, a Sikh community and religious leader....
Sodhi became a symbol for protecting the innocent because he went to a Sikh temple days before the shooting and warned fellow Sikhs that they must educate Americans about their religion so that they are not confused with Muslims.
But Kaur Khalsa said Sikhs are against racial and religious intolerance aimed at any group.[Link]
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