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When coverage started in earnest on Sunday, a Fox News anchor asked a witness whether there had been previous acts of "anti-Semitism." A Fox local news report claimed that Sikhs were "based in northern Italy." And the host of CNN's Newsroom Don Lemon struggled with the "murky detail" of whether Sikhs were Hindus, Muslims, or a different sect altogether; he later postulated that the killer "could be someone who has beef with the Sikhs."
According to the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Sikh Coalition, there were at least 300 reported incidents of attacks against Sikhs in the first month after 9/11. Some Sikhs, like Satwant Singh Kaleka, the temple's president who was one of the six slain in the attack, hung big American flags outside their window to show their patriotism. But in interviews on television and print, Sikhs had to continue to state they were not Muslim or members of the Taliban. The media pushed Sikhs into a binary of "terrorist/good citizen," and used their sound bites over the past two days to reinforce this narrative.