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Sodhi's Killer Receives Death Sentence
By RAOUL DENNIS
In Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's wise words, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." The Sikh Times opposes the death penalty and hopes that those Sikhs who vociferously protested Devinderpal Singh Bhullar's death sentence will protest Frank Silva Roque's death sentence with equal force.
S.C.O.R.E., Washington, D.C., Oct. 10, 2003
The Sikh community prayed for the Sodhi family as it learned of the sentencing of Frank [Silva] Roque, the killer of Balbir Singh Sodhi. As the prayers were occurring, it was announced that the accused killer of Sikh American [Mesa gas station owner] Balbir Singh Sodhi, in Mesa, Arizona, last Aug., was convicted [of first-degree murder] and sentenced to death. 'We pray for the Sodhi family who has endured a tremendous loss of their loved one,' said National Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education Dr. Rajwant Singh (S.C.O.R.E.). 'Balbir Singh Sodhi, a decent and a caring family man, was taken away because of his religious identity. This sentencing might have brought a closure to this sad event but cannot make up for his loss. Our heart goes to the Sodhi family members.'
He added, 'Since Sep. 11, 2001, Sikhs have seen a nightmarish increase in the number of hate crimes directed towards them due to ignorance and intolerance on the part of the many perpetrators. This court judgment sends a strong signal against the hate crimes which tend to tear at the fabric of our nation.' Although Sikhs have resided and worked in America as full citizens for more than 100 years, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks reveal that most people are ignorant of their beliefs and identity as Sikhs continue to be the target of choice in hate crimes. Because of their distinctive identity, with turban and beard, Sikh Americans are erroneously associated with terrorists, making them a vulnerable minority.
'We regret the ignorance which prompted Frank Roque to this senseless killing as it has also caused deep suffering in his own family,' Singh said. 'We pray for his family, and even for the man himself.' 'We hope that our nation has learned a valuable lesson toward the path of unity.' Dr. Rajwant Singh, said, 'Clearly without it, we cannot succeed.' Dr. Singh expressed gratitude to the Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and law enforcement official who took clear and decisive measures to condemn the crime resolve the case. 'We acknowledge the immense support of Arizona Governor Napolitano to the Sodhi family. Her leadership and support have contributed to the message that we are all American citizens. We are grateful for the support of the citizens of Arizona and the American people to the entire Sikh community during this difficult period.'
The sentencing comes just days after Dr. Singh and S.C.O.R.E. led a delegation of Sikh leaders to the White House early last week to discuss issues impacting the Sikh American community. Hate crimes against Sikhs were a significant part of the discussion. Harjit Singh Sodhi, brother of the victim, was also part of this delegation.