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Mistaken For Muslims, Sikhs Hit By Hate Crimes

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
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Jun 17, 2004
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Mistaken for Muslims, Sikhs hit by hate crimes

Turbans worn by dead man and wounded friend may have made extremists think they were Musli
ms

WEST SACRAMENTO, California — The daily stroll had become routine for two elderly Sikh men in a Sacramento suburb, as well as for neighbors and friends accustomed to seeing the men walk by with their long beards and turbans.

But the traditional headwear might have singled them out late last week when they were gunned down, one fatally, in what police are investigating as a suspected hate crime.

On Monday, local religious leaders pleaded for the community to come forward with leads but also said they will not be deterred by violence.

"Our community will continue to wear our turbans proudly," said Navi Kaur, the granddaughter of Surinder Singh, 65, who died from his wounds.

His friend, 78-year-old Gurmej Atwal, remains in critical condition.

They were walking through their neighborhood in Elk Grove, just south of the California state capital Sacramento, Friday afternoon when someone in what witnesses described as a pickup truck opened fire.

Police said they have no suspects nor any indication the shooting was a hate crime, but said the turbans could have made the elderly men a target of extremists.

During a news conference Monday at a Sikh temple, a spokesman said the recent violence has scared some temple-goers into concealing any indicators of their religion.

Sikhs often are mistaken for Muslims and have been the subject of occasional violence across the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The enemies of the United States don't wear turbans in the United States," said Amar Shergill, a Sikh leader and attorney. "They don't want to be singled out. The result is that Sikh Americans since 9-11 have borne the brunt of violent hate crimes."

Sikhs draw particular attention because of their traditional beards and turbans, which are mistakenly associated with Islamist terrorists.

'It is getting ugly'

Shergill said Monday also marked the start of a trial involving a confirmed hate crime against a Sikh.

He is the attorney for a Sikh cab driver beaten four months ago by passengers who shouted anti-Islamic slurs at him in West Sacramento, which sits across the Sacramento River from the state capital. The two defendants pleaded no contest Monday to felony assault.

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, several people at Monday's news conference drew links between the Sacramento-area crimes and national and international developments.

From unrest in North Africa to congressional hearings on radicalization of Muslims in the U.S., speakers warned of an increasingly hostile climate.

"It is getting ugly," said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "And like I said, who suffers the most is the Sikh community because of unfortunately people's ignorance."

The Elk Grove police department said last week's shooting would be the first targeting Sikhs in the city if it turns out to be a hate crime.

Police also said they would meet with FBI officials, a routine move when a hate crime is suspected.

On Monday, police said they are looking for a tan or beige Ford F150 pickup truck made between 1999 and 2003.

Meanwhile, a dozen groups have collected nearly $30,000 in reward money for information about the shootings.

Singh, a truck driver, had worked in India and Libya before moving to the United States about five years ago, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Atwal, the other victim, is a retired civil servant who worked in the revenue department of northwest India's Punjab state before moving to the U.S. in 2001.

The two were neighbors who became friends when Singh moved to Elk Grove three years ago. They would have tea in the morning, set out for a walk, return for lunch, and then go out again.

They knew just enough English to say, "Hi," to passersby and met other retired Sikhs at a nearby park.

"They were total gentlemen," said Lakhvinder Singh, a family friend.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41962756/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/
 

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Shanger

SPNer
Oct 29, 2010
105
43
Dumb americans.

Lot of the english ppl here tho are like that (BNP guys etc), think sikhs are pakis etc.

That is unsettling tho not much you can do when guys pull up and start firing guns, probs them aryan guys.

This post has been reported to Leaders for discussion. "probs them aryan guys" is a problematical statement.
 

angie414

SPNer
Jan 20, 2011
4
8
Brooklyn, NY
I'm a bit unclear on something ... as a resident New Yorker, I'm not accustomed to seeing turbans worn by Muslims in public. Is this perhaps just a misconception on the part of the shooter(s)? I can't help but think so, but either way, be you Sikh, Muslim or Jew, this, as ALL crimes are, is the result of hatred.

My deepest sympathy to the families of the victims.
 
Last edited:

Shanger

SPNer
Oct 29, 2010
105
43
I'm a bit unclear on something ... as a resident New Yorker, I not accustomed to seeing turbans worn by Muslims in public. Is this perhaps just a misconception on the part of the shooter(s)? I can't help but think so, but either way, be you Sikh, Muslim or Jew, this, as ALL crimes are, is the result of hatred.
True hardly any muslims wear turbans in the west, mainly in them arab countries etc.
(& their prophet wore one.)

Theres many ppl aware of this fact, yet theres large numbers of ppl unaware.


Most people think the ppl doing acts of violence are just mistaking sikhs for muslims, i think tht has been the case many times but I think many of them are just generally racist towards non-whites & wana pretend sikhs are terrorists too.
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
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Jun 17, 2004
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I'm a bit unclear on something ... as a resident New Yorker, I'm not accustomed to seeing turbans worn by Muslims in public. Is this perhaps just a misconception on the part of the shooter(s)? I can't help but think so, but either way, be you Sikh, Muslim or Jew, this, as ALL crimes are, is the result of hatred.

My deepest sympathy to the families of the victims.
angie414 ji

This is not the first time something like this has happened in the US. There was a recent event in Washington State. And other examples right after 9/11 in Arizona State. Just to cite 2 examples.

The problem is one of perception. Most US Muslims do not wear turbans. However the image some US citizens have of a turban equates with "Muslim terrorist." A study in social psychology was reported a little more than a year ago here at SPN. The researcher found that study participants were more likely to target a person on a balcony as a Muslim terrorist if the target image was of a man wearing a turban.

Lack of knowledge coupled with racist attitudes lies at the core. Sikhs in the US as a rule aggregate in certain cities and are few and far between through most of the country. Of that number, only a percentage wear turbans. If you live in Fresno CA you will probably recognize a turbaned man as a Sikh. If you live in Philadelphia PA you might not. Most do not have personal contact with or knowledge of Sikhs, especially of turbaned Sikhs, nor of Muslims. Most depend on media for their information and their understanding. IMHO we are looking at a public that is misinformed, out of contact with Sikh and Muslim minorities, in general. Add to that a misinformed press and the racist anti-immigrant attitudes of a smaller percentage of bigots. What I am trying to say is that there are many factors working against understanding who Sikhs are and what a turban signifies.

Only one bigoted hot-head can do a lot of damage and cause a lot of pain, and there are many cultural barriers to prevent his deranged behavior from happening in the first place. Articles like this one need to be discussed and disseminated widely in order to educate the general public -- most of whom would oppose vigilante style shoot-outs.

I would also reply to comments other than your own on this thread -- that painting all "aryans" as bigots will do nothing to advance a better understanding of Sikhi, and probably makes things worse. Assuming that turbaned men are Muslims also does nothing to advance better relations between Muslims and the rest of US society either.
 

Ambarsaria

ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Writer
SPNer
Dec 21, 2010
3,380
5,687
I'm a bit unclear on something ... as a resident New Yorker, I'm not accustomed to seeing turbans worn by Muslims in public. Is this perhaps just a misconception on the part of the shooter(s)? I can't help but think so, but either way, be you Sikh, Muslim or Jew, this, as ALL crimes are, is the result of hatred.

My deepest sympathy to the families of the victims.
angie414 the issue is TV images of the Taliban and the Ayatollahs over time in Iran.

Very sad and wishing well for the injured and condolences for the deceased.

You may want to read also what happened to thousands of Sikhs in their so called homeland of India in the following thread/section,

http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/1984-anti-sikh-pogrom/

Sat Sri Akal.
 

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