Tuesday, August 01, 2006
CALIFORNIA SIKH STABBED IN HATE CRIME
A 20-year-old man was arrested for allegedly stabbing a man in the neck in an apparent hate crime. Everett Thompson was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and a hate crime in the stabbing of 40-year-old Iqbal Singh, a Sikh.
Hate crimes against Sikhs sky rocketed after September 11, 2001.
Just last week, the Dashmesh Darbar Sikh Temple (Salem, Oregon) was attacked. The saffron flag with the Khanda, known as the Sri Nishaan Sahib, the symbol of the Sikh faith which is held in the highest of reverance was set ablaze. The flames spread to a nearby grassy area and fence. Only luck saved the Temple itself.
On Sept. 15, 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, member of the Sikh temple of El Sobrante, was shot to death in front of the gas station he owned in Mesa, Ariz. His alleged killer reportedly told police: "I stand for America all the way."
According to the Contra Costa Times, It was the nation's first fatal post-9/11 hate crime.
FYI: 'The Gold Bracelet' is the first film to deal with the tragedies faced by many American Sikhs and Arabs following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers in N.Y. It was released earlier this year. Based on actual events, the very refreshing and original story deals with the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy faced by a Sikh family. For more information on the film, visit www.TheGoldBracelet.com
The following is from the Mercury News (San Jose).
Santa Clara Sikh stabbed in apparent hate crime
By Leslie Griffy and Sean Webby
The day after the stabbing of a Santa Clara grandfather left South Bay Sikhs reeling, prosecutors are weighing hate crime and attempted murder charges against his neighbor, who apparently believed the man belonged to the Taliban.
Iqbal Singh, 40, was waiting in his carport with his 2-year-old granddaughter around 10:50 a.m. Sunday when the suspect approached him and stabbed him in the neck with a steak knife, Santa Clara police Sgt. Kurt Clarke said.
Singh was still in the hospital Monday with serious injuries. The girl was unhurt.
``It's terrifying,'' his brother-in-law, Gurmeet Singh, said. ``Here he is standing outside of his home, and he is attacked.''
That the stabbing might have been driven by hate doesn't surprise Gurmeet Singh.
``We Sikhs are the most targeted for hate crimes,'' he said. ``People see us, and they don't understand who we are. They associate us with terrorists.''
Santa Clara police arrested Everett Thompson, 20, of Santa Clara, later Sunday, Clarke said. He was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and a hate crime, Clarke said.
Investigators are trying to determine why Thompson allegedly attacked Singh.
There are indications that Thompson, who may suffer from mental illness, believed Singh was a member of the Taliban, officials said Monday. Singh is not.
The Taliban is a Sunni Islamist movement based in Afghanistan. Sikhism is an unrelated religion and culture founded in the Indian state of Punjab.
``We send our prayers not just to Mr. Singh and his family, but to the entire Sikh community,'' said Jay Boyarsky, the supervising deputy district attorney who oversees hate-crime prosecutions in Santa Clara County.
Boyarsky, who praised the Santa Clara Police Department for its ongoing investigation, added: ``Sadly, this is not the first time that a person has wrongfully targeted a Sikh person on the basis of physical appearance.''
The prosecutor cited a case shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, in which two men assaulted a Sikh and set his ice cream truck on fire.
When Singh was attacked, he was waiting for the rest of the family to come down to the carport from their upstairs apartment on Agate Drive. They were on their way to worship services at San Jose Gurdwara Sahib, Gurmeet Singh said.
Iqbal Singh, he said, wears both a turban and a beard. Those are two symbols of Sikh culture that many don't understand, said Gursharan Singh, a Milpitas-based reporter for the magazine Punjab Today who is not related to the victim.
Different cultures use turbans to signify different things; for some it is a sign of religious learning, and for others it is part of cultural dress.
For Sikhs, Gursharan Singh said, the turban is not as much religious as it is cultural.
The religion, like others, promotes peace and understanding.
``We are simply trying to peacefully live, earn a living and practice our religion,'' Gurmeet Singh said. ``This hate is driven by ignorance.''