CAIRO - Sending a message of tolerance, a Muslim rapper has moved many of worshippers commemorating the victims of a deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
The devils and the hate mongers are in the shadows lurking - but when we see each other as persons, goodness starts working, Zaki Syed, a clean-cut Muslim American rapper in glasses and blue jeans, performed at the Spiritual Life Center, Sacramento Bee reported on Monday, August 13.
All I see in the Sikh community is the greatness of love, faces of love, still rising above.
At least seven people were killed when a gunman attacked people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last Sunday.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to seven million, have strongly condemned the shooting, expressing solidarity with Sikhs.
After the attacks, the Muslim rapper raised his voice for promoting tolerance and understanding.
Performing at the state Capitol during a candlelight vigil Friday night, he touched on basic Sikh beliefs of tolerance and community service, as well as the magnitude of Wisconsin's tragedy.
His words have moved people across racial and ethnic barriers.
"Zaki's an amazing young man," said Andy Noguchi of the Florin Japanese American Citizens League, a civil rights advocacy group for people of Japanese descent.
"He came on our pilgrimage to the Manzanar internment camp a couple of years ago, performed for hundreds of people, and blew people away with his thoughts and feelings about events like this and civil rights."
At the event, Rev. Michael Moran, who had invited Syed to perform that rap, said the rapper other Muslim youths from the SALAM Islamic Center worked with church youths after 9/11 to spread peace and understanding.
Moran made Syed the centerpiece of Sunday's service featuring Dr. Gurtej Singh Cheema and four Sikh youths.
"Our practices are different, but our beliefs are identical," Moran said of Sikhism and his Christian congregation.
Cheema, clad in a saffron-colored turban, declared, "When you look for God within, not with empty rituals or outward dress, only then can you see God in others."
Recalling the attacks, the Muslim rapper said that the Sikh tragedy revived old memories of being targeted after the 9/11 attacks just for being Muslim.
"The next day after the shooting bothered me a lot, and brought up PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) memories I thought I had forgot," he said.
Syed, 24, is the son of Pakistani immigrants who was born in Santa Clara. His family moved to Roseville when he was 10.
His raps described what happened to him in his eighth-grade class at Woodcreek High School, Silverado Middle School and Quail Glen Elementary School after the 9/11 attacks.
Taking the stage on Sunday's event, he explained how Sikhs are often confused with Muslims.
"Sikh kids stepped in when I was about to get hurt and said, 'He's with us.' "
"Not once did anybody blame me as a Muslim. They just protected me," he told the crowd.
"Hope people can finally understand they're peaceful people, and what great friends they are."
Sharing the same wound of prosecution based on religious believes, Sunday's crowd was moved to tears with Syed's words.
"It made me search my soul, and question how I can change," said R.J. Bullen, 52.
"It opened me up," said Richard Mullock, 24.
"We all feel the same way; we are all human beings and a reflection of God, regardless of pigment."
Jasmeet Kaur, a 16-year-old Sikh girl who also spoke Sunday, was also moved."Zaki was brilliant. He said he didn't have any money, but what he has, he gave it all."