Gurdwara in the US
Naked man who vandalised Washington gurdwara arrested Picture: Harjit Singh prays at the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple in West Sacramento, California, August 6, 2012. [Representational Image]Reuters

In a recent case of hate crime against the Sikh community in the U.S., a man vandalised a gurdwara in the Washington area Wednesday night. He was arrested Thursday morning from inside the gurdwara. He was naked when found and reportedly had the ceremonial sword in his hand. 

Some community leaders in Spokane County, Washington, where some 300 Sikhs reside, have condemned the recent attack.

"No hate will be tolerated in Spokane County," Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was quoted as saying by the Spokesman-Review, a local news site in Washington. "All religions should be respected. Any crime committed due to someone's religious beliefs will be a priority and fully investigated," the Press Trust of India quoted Knezovich as saying.

Jeffrey C Pittman, 44, had broken into the gurdwara Wednesday night because he was feeling cold and hungry, but when he entered he mistook the Sikh place of worship to be a mosque with tied to ISIS. His presence came to light Thursday morning when the Gurdwara priest arrived to open the temple for morning prayers.

"They (deputies) detained Pittman after a short altercation. The damage is estimated to be several thousand dollars and there was damage to religiously sacred items of the temple," Knezovich said.

The gurdwara issued a statement soon after the incident, condemning the attack.

"We don't know the motivations behind the vandalism yet, but we do know the police are treating the case seriously and that the perpetrator has been arrested. There are no immediate indications that bias was involved," PTI quoted the gurdwara as saying in a statement.

"No house of worship in America should ever be vandalised," the statement said.

Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, and senior advisor with the National Sikh Campaign (NSC), a non-governmental organisation working for increasing awareness about Sikhs in the U.S., also expressed shock at the incident.

Recently, the rising number of incidents of racial crimes against Sikhs in the U.S. has been a cause of concern for the religious minority. To counter the misunderstood image, the NSC has raised $400,000 for an awareness campaign about the religion in the U.S.