16 Hate Crimes Against Sikh Americans

UNITED STATES—This video highlights 16 major hate crimes against Sikh Americans since 2001. Sikhs belong to a religion founded in Punjab, India, a region that straddles modern-day India and Pakistan. Founded in the 16th century by Guru Nanak, who said Sikhs are “neither Hindus nor Muslims,” Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with approximately 30 million followers.

16 Hate Crimes Against Sikh Americans
Watch this video on YouTube.

Since the terrorist attacks in New York City and elsewhere on September 11, 2001, Sikhs in the United States have frequently been mistaken for Muslims and suffered severe violence as a consequence. Many of the victims portrayed in this video report their attackers shouting phrases such as “go back to your country, terrorist” or calling them “Bin Laden,” or using similar slurs. Of course, no Muslim should suffer such violence, but it’s perhaps an even greater tragedy when hatred is directed against innocent people based on a mistaken identity.

As Guru Gobind Singh Ji, one of Sikhism’s teachers, stated: “Recognize the human race as one.” Or, as St. Paul taught in the first century, God “has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” No one can dehumanize any other people group without simultaneously dehumanizing themselves. This video, therefore, intends to show the human faces of the victims of hate.

As the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund reports:

“How many Sikh Americans have fallen victim to hate crimes?

“It is difficult to know the true number of hate crimes against Sikh Americans because many incidents go unreported and because Sikh-specific statistics are currently unavailable. The U.S. Department of Justice has noted that, since 9/11, its Civil Rights Division as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorneys have investigated over 800 bias incidents against Sikh, Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Americans….

“Why are Sikh Americans subjected to hate crimes?

“Sikh Americans are often mistaken for Muslims because of ignorance, and recent surveys have suggested a huge increase in anti-Muslim bigotry in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; but this does not fully explain why Sikh Americans are subjected to hate crimes. Even if Sikhs clarify their religious affiliation and create national awareness about the Sikh religion, bigots may still target Sikh Americans because of racism, religious exclusivity, and xenophobia.”

Sourced from SALDEF

The 16 hate crimes documented in this video are by no means a comprehensive listing, and many other Sikhs in the U.S. have faced similar attacks. The 16 incidents documented here include:

Balbir Singh Sodhi: Shot to death
Sept. 15, 2001, Mesa, Arizona

Surinder Singh Sidhu: Beaten
Dec. 12, 2001, Los Angeles, California

Sukhpal Singh Sidhu: Shot to death
Aug. 6, 2002, Daly City, California

Avtar Singh Cheira: Shot twice (survived)
May 19, 2003, Phoenix, Arizona

Rajinder Singh Khalsa: Beaten unconscious
July 11, 2004, New York City, New York

Sukhvir Singh: Beaten, threatened with death
Nov. 24, 2007, Seattle, Washington

Jasmine Singh: Beaten, loses an eye
Jan. 18, 2009, New York City, New York

Harbhajan Singh: Beaten
Nov. 28, 2010, West Sacramento, California

Surrender Singh & Gurmej Atwal: Shot to death
Mar. 4, 2011, Elk Grove, California

Six Sikhs: Massacred
Aug. 5, 2012, Oak Creek, Wisconsin

Piara Singh: Beaten unconscious
May 5, 2013, Fresno, California

Sandeep Singh: Run over with a truck
July 30, 2014, New York City, New York

Inderjit Singh Mukker: Beaten unconscious
Sept. 8, 2015, Chicago, Illinois

Balwinderjit Singh: Beaten
Nov. 6, 2015, Los Angeles, California

Amrik Singh Bal: Beaten, hit with a car
Dec. 26, 2015, Fresno, California

Gurcharan Singh Gill: Stabbed to death
Jan. 1, 2016, Fresno, California



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