SACRAMENTO — Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) was honored June 9 at the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento’s annual awards banquet with the Power of One Lifetime Award for her work to promote religious and ethnic tolerance.
“With the March attack of two Elk Grove Sikhs, we are sternly reminded of the importance of organizations like the Interfaith Council, who work every day to bring together people of all faiths and cultures and promote a culture of tolerance,” said Matsui. “I am honored to receive this award from such an outstanding organization.”
Surinder Singh, 65, and Gurmej Atwal, 78, were out on their customary afternoon stroll on March 4 when they were shot. Singh died at the scene. Atwal remains in critical condition. Police have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime, as many Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims and randomly attacked since 9/11.
In connection with an American Sikh Day celebration in April, Matsui said, “Our community, region, and nation was shocked and saddened by the violent attack of two Sikh men in Elk Grove. This attack is deplorable – and the fact that it may have been based on the men’s appearance and religious faith is especially appalling. Such hate has no place in our society – and the Sacramento community’s response has only brought us closer together.”
Matsui also delivered the keynote remarks during the Interfaith Council event. She touched on the history of intolerance and violence in the U.S., including her own parents’ experience in an internment camp during World War II, and the January shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others in Arizona.
Matsui closed by saying, “These memories compel us to strive for a better future. It compels us to work together. We are all in this together.”