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Teen Sentenced for Burning a Temple

May 3, 2002

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OSWEGO, N.Y. (AP) _ A teen-ager was sentenced to three to nine years in prison Friday for burning down a Sikh temple in anger over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Joshua Centrone, 18, is the second of four teen-agers to plead guilty in connection with the Nov. 18 fire at the Gobind Sadan USA Temple in Palermo, 30 miles north of Syracuse. The teen-agers told authorities they set fire to the temple because they thought it was called Go Bin Laden.

Numerous hate crimes have been committed against Sikhs since Sept. 11. Sikhs have been mistaken for Arabs or Muslims because of their turbans and beards.

Leaders of the temple asked Judge Walter Hafner to show mercy in sentencing.

``As Jesus said, `Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,′ we in the Sikh tradition offer forgiveness to these children, in hopes that a positive message will continue to rise out of this crime of hatred: that with God’s grace, love and understanding, we can overcome the ignorance that fuels the conflicts that plague our world,″ Ralph Singh said.

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