CREDIT: Columbia University
Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a physician and a Columbia professor in international politics and public health, became a victim of an alleged Sikh hate crime when a group of about 20 young men reportedly attacked him during a walk near Central Park in New York City. A group surrounded Singh on Saturday night, shouting “get Osama” and “terrorist,” as they beat him to the ground, punched his face, and pulled his beard.
Singh was hospitalized for severe bruising and displaced teeth and had surgery for a fractured jaw, according to the Sikh Coalition. His friend also recounted in the Huffington Post how he looked at the hospital, “wheeled in, bloody and bruised, his face swollen from a fractured jaw.” Gawker notes that NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is looking into the attack.
Although there are 250,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., the religion is often conflated with Islam, and as such, Sikhs who wear turbans and beards for their religion have also fallen victim to the rise of hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. A recent survey from Stanford University found that 70 percent of Americans mistake turban-wearers as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto, while 49 percent of Americans misidentify Sikhism as part of Islam.
Last year, Singh responded to a shooting at a Sikh temple that killed six people with an article in the New York Times. Singh and a co-author asked, “Do American Sikhs count?” as they criticized how the government tracks hate crimes against the Sikh community. “The F.B.I. currently classifies nearly all hate violence against American Sikhs as instances of anti-Islamic or anti-Muslim hate crimes,” he wrote just over a year ago. “As a result, we do not have official statistics on the extent of hate crimes in which Sikhs are targeted, despite a long history of such violence.”