Media Advisory on Coverage of Sikh Temple Shooting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 5, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) wishes to express our condolences after the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Here are a few guidelines for organizations reporting on this tragedy:

  • The word “Sikh,” according to multiple dictionaries, is pronounced “seek.” However, adherents of the faith use the pronunciation “sik-kh” (“kh” pronounced as in “Mikhail”).
  • A Sikh temple is also called a “gurdwara” (pronounced GOORD-war-ah).
  • Sikhism is the fifth largest world religion and was founded in 1469 in South Asia. It is a monotheistic religion.
  • There are 25 million to 30 million Sikhs around the world, most of them in India. According to the Sikh Coalition, about 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States.
  • Observant Sikh men are religiously mandated to wear dastaars (Sikh turbans) and maintain unshorn hair (including facial hair). Observant Sikh women are also religiously mandated to maintain uncut hair.

AAJA’s “Handbook to Covering Asian America” can be a resource in fairly, accurately and sensitively reporting on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The South Asian Journalists Association may be able to provide further assistance. Additional organizations to consult include the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Sikh Coalition.

NOTE: This post was updated Aug. 6 to clarify several guidelines based on feedback from Sikh leaders. AAJA also added contact information for groups with expertise on Sikhism.

Media Contact: AAJA Executive Director Kathy Chow

E-mail: kathyc@aaja.org
Telephone: 415-346-2051 | Fax: 415-346-6343
Mailing address: 5 Third St., Suite 1108, San Francisco, Calif. 94103


The Asian American Journalists Association is a nonprofit professional and educational organization with more than 1,500 members across the United States and in Asia. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA’s mission is to encourage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to enter the ranks of journalism, to work for fair and accurate coverage of AAPIs, and to increase the number of AAPI journalists and news managers in the industry. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists, along with the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. For more information about AAJA, visit www.aaja.org.