Trump Accused of Promoting 'Bigotry and Hatred' by Civil Rights Group After Sikh Center Targeted With Far-Right Graffiti

President Donald Trump has been condemned for promoting "bigotry and hatred" after a Sikh temple in California was sprayed with white supremacist and neo-Nazi graffiti.

The Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) criticized Trump for retweeting a doctored image showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer wearing a turban and hijab while standing in front of the Iranian flag.

The image, which Trump retweeted from another account, was posted by the president hours after "white power" and a swastika were sprayed on a sign in front of the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Center in Orangevale.

CAIR, the largest Muslim civil rights group in the U.S, said that Trump's mockery of Islam would further endanger the lives of American Muslims as well as those in the Sikh community. CAIR noted that Sikh men who wear traditional religious attire are often "targeted by bigots" who mistake them for Muslims.

"With one retweet of a bigoted, doctored photo, Trump has put entire communities at risk nationwide," CAIR Sacramento Valley/Central California Executive Director Basim Elkarra said in a statement.

"Muslims and Sikhs are already among the top three religious groups—along with the Jewish community—targeted in U.S. hate incidents. It is unacceptable for the nation's top government official to espouse bigotry and hatred. We need to come together and say, 'Enough is enough!'"

The far-right graffiti was spotted by members of the Sikh community on Monday morning (January 13) and has since been painted over.

"We're a very peaceful religion," Dimple Bhullar, who found the graffiti, told The Sacramento Bee. "We accept all religions as equal and just want the respect from other religions that we give to them. We would appreciate the same for any of our places of worship."

Harbans Singh Sraon, another member of the local Sikh community, said he would like to be able to speak to those responsible.

"Come and sit with us. Break the bread with us," Sraon told ABC 10. "We love you. We'd like to talk to you. We'll let you know who we are. We will entertain them."

Orangevale, Sacramento:

This is the world we still live in because we sweep prejudice under the National Rug.

This is at a church and across from my better half’s Mom’s neighborhood on our way to one of our favorite coffee houses. #HateLives #OrangevaleFairOaks #Sacramento

— brian fischer (@SacCIO) January 13, 2020

In a statement, the Sikh Coalition think-tank said: "California is home to the largest number of Sikh Americans nationwide, yet Sikhs across the state have been facing years of high-profile hate incidents, including the attacks of Parmjit Singh in 2018 in Tracy; Sahib Singh in 2018 in Manteca; and Maan Singh Khalsa in 2016 in Richmond.

"In addition, the FBI's latest annual report on hate crimes detailed a 200 percent spike in anti-Sikh violence in the broader U.S. compared to 2017. These trends underscore the urgent need to address anti-Sikh violence and bigotry in our communities."

After sharing the image of Pelosi and Schumer, Trump accused Democrats of trying to pass recently killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani off as "a wonderful guy."

Defending the president's retweet, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News: "The president is making clear the Democrats are parroting Iranian talking points and almost taking the side of terrorists and those out to kill Americans."

The White House has been contacted for comment.

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump waves prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kevin C. Cox/Getty

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