Temple shooting reveals hate crimes against Sikhs in US : CNN
WASHINGTON: The 700,000 Sikhs living in the United States have become “ripe targets” for zealots seeking revenge, a US media report said Monday. A series of attacks on Sikhs, who were often mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans in the US, were recorded since the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, CNN reported.
Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque on Sept 15, 2001 in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, Press Trust of India quoted a report by CNN.
“Our appearance looks similar to Osama bin Laden and those from Afghanistan,” Suminder Sodhi, a friend of the Arizona victim, said at the time of the first attack.
“But we are different from Muslims. We have different beliefs, a different religion.”
In Dec 2001, two men beat store owner Surinder Singh 20 times with metal poles in Los Angeles and while attacking him, they said “We’ll kill bin Laden today.”
In New York in July 2004, Rajinder Singh Khalsa was beaten unconscious by six men after they taunted him and his friend about their turban while in Jan 2009, Jasmir Singh was attacked in the same city by men who shouted racial slurs at him.
Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cabdriver, was beaten by two passengers in Sacramento, California in Nov 2010, with one of them calling him “Osama bin Laden.”
And in Feb this year, the wall of a Sikh temple under construction in Sterling Heights, Michigan was defaced with graffiti which depicted a gun and a cross. In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents against Sikhs.
As the incidents waned, the Sikh community had hoped the worst was behind them — until Sunday when a man shot and killed at least six people at a temple outside Milwaukee and wounded a police officer.
Because many incidents went unreported and as the FBI did not specifically list them and instead lumping them as “anti-Islamic” crimes, exact numbers are hard to come by, CNN said. Earlier this year, New York Representative Joe Crowley sent a letter to the US Justice Department to begin tracking crimes against Sikhs.
Crowley asked the FBI to update its Hate Crime Incident Report Form (1-699), which does not have a designation for crimes against Sikhs as it does for some other ethnic groups.
“The more information our law enforcement agencies have on violence against Sikh-Americans, the more they can do to help prevent these crimes and bring those who commit them to justice,” Crowley was quoted as saying by the report. – BERNAMA