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US first lady Michelle Obama meets Sikh shooting victims’ families

Oak creek, Wisconsin, Aug 24 (): US first lady Michelle Obama offered condolences to the family members of the victims of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting on Thursday.

On August 5, six worshippers were killed and four others, including a police officer, were wounded at the Sikh temple, where a white supremacist gunman, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old former US Army specialist opened fire.

A meeting between the victims’ families and US first lady was held on Thursday at the Oak Creek High School, down the street from the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

Mrs Obama was greeted by Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, a trustee of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, and Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi at Oak Creek High School before meeting privately with families of the victims of the mass shooting.

The visits with worshippers were private, and she took no questions during this public appearance. The meeting was held away from the press and was not open to the general public. She offered sympathies to them in hushed tones and then went into a classroom for private visits with each of the families.

Mandeep Singh Khattra and his family received Michelle Obama with an embrace as the first lady consoled relatives of the victims.

Obama spent nearly 90 minutes visiting with the Khattras and other families of Sikh worshippers who were killed or injured in the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. She expressed her sympathies, offered support and listened to many stories about victims.

Mrs Obama said it was her honour to be there with them. She was very sorry to meet the families under these circumstances, but she was anxious to meet with the families and lend whatever support she could.

As the Sikh community here continues to mourn the dead, the members have taken solace in one fact: the killing has drawn attention to their religion and given them a chance to share. Obama’s visit offered one more opportunity for them to preach unity and compassion.

Always non-Sikhs wonder from afar about Sikh customs — for example, why the men might have long beards and wear turbans. Sikh leaders in the U.S. have tried to change that. They have cheered people of all faiths to visit their temples and sit with them on the floor to partake of free meals.

A motive for the killings is yet to be found by US investigators, but they are looking into Page’s links with white supremacist hate groups.