A North Carolina sheriff’s department says there’s no evidence that shots fired through the sign for a planned Hindu temple is anything more than simple vandalism, but it has nevertheless sent reverberations of concern through the U.S. Hindu community.
The sign, located at a building site of the Om Hindu Organization of North Carolina in the village of Clemmons, was found riddled with more than 60 holes from shotgun blasts earlier this month, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Law enforcement found empty shell casings that indicated someone had fired a shotgun at the sign two to three times.
“We as American people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance, respect and inclusion,” Om Hindu said in a statement released Friday. “We have no doubts that in the long run we will be able to practice our religion and live peacefully in this region and work towards a pluralistic society.”
Manujunath Shamanna, a member of the group’s board of directors, told the Journal the incident was “disappointing,” but said the holes could have been caused by “just some kids playing.”
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department has no suspects or leads in the investigation, but Chief Deputy Brad Stanley told the Journal that “it appears just to be vandalism.”
Not all members of the Hindu community are so sure. Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said in an article he wrote for Fox 8 that “Hindus nationwide are highly concerned” about the incident.
Zed points out that this is not the first Hindu temple in the U.S. to be vandalized this year. In April, a Texas temple was covered with graffiti and “hateful images,” WFAA reported at the time.
Two Seattle-area temples were hit by vandals in February, according to the LA Times. In the first incident, someone spray-painted “GET OUT” on a temple wall, while the words “Muslims get out” were painted on the side of a nearby school. Eleven days later, someone smashed the windows of another temple in the area and spray-painted the word “FEAR” on the wall.
Construction for the Clemmons temple is set to begin later this year. It will be the first Hindu temple in Forsyth County, where about 500 Hindu families live.
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