A Tragic History Of Hate Crimes Against Sikhs In The U.S.
Although the motives of the shooter in Wisconsin this morning are not yet clear, there is a bloody history of violence towards Sikhs in the United States since 9/11. Sikhism is a peaceful religion and its primary principles include equality and justice for all.
Dec 12, 2001 – Los Angeles, California
47-year-old Surinder Singh Sidhi was beaten by two men who entered his store, accused him of being Osama bin Laden, and beat him with metal poles. They said, "We'll kill bin Laden today," then hit him over twenty times with the poles. "The crime was regrettable but not surprising," Kirtan-Singh Khalsa, spokesman for the Khalsa Council, an international council for Sikh affairs, said. "We're deeply concerned by this event. But we are not shocked. Sikhs are accustomed to ridicule because of wearing turbans."
February 19, 2002 – Palermo, New York
Three 18-year-old boys and one 19-year-old girl burned down the Sikh temple Gobinde Sadan. The teens told authorities that they believed the temple was named "Go Bin Laden."
May 24, 2007 – Queens, New York
A 15-year-old Sikh student had his hair forcibly cut by a fellow student at Newtown High School in Queens. Unshorn hair is a religious imperative for a Sikh, and the student tried to explain that to his assailant, who threatened him with scissors.
January 14, 2008 – New Hyde Park, New York
Baljeet Singh, a 63-year-old Sikh, was attacked outside his temple by a man who screamed “Arab, go back to your country.” Wood then allegedly told Chadha "you don't listen" and punched him in the face. Singh suffered a broken nose and a fractured jaw.
June 5, 2008 – Queens, New York
A 9th grade Sikh student at Richmond Hill High School was attacked by a fellow student. The bully sought to remove his Sikh classmate’s patka from behind, and hit him in the face with keys. The victim ended up in the hospital with severe bruising and swelling. The victim had been reporting the bully for months, after the bully allegedly teased the child often, tugging on the victim’s beard and asking why he didn't shave.
Sadly, these incidents only represent a fraction of the crimes — many of which certainly go unreported — that are perpetrated against Sikhs in the United States. A 2007 survey of Sikh students by the Sikh Coalition found that three out of four male students interviewed "had been teased or harassed on account of their religious identity."
That discrimination has worsened significantly since 9/11. Sikhs have struggled with trying to prove to the hateful that they are not Muslims or Arabs, while still believing in equality and fair treatment for those groups as well. Today's incident may or may not end up being classified as a hate crime, but regardless: the Sikh people certainly deserve the respect and acceptance of their fellow Americans rather than the scorn, ridicule, and violence they are too often subjected to.