Sikh assaulted by NYC teens in apparent hate crime

By Anju Kaur | September 23, 2013
Prabhjot Singh, a physician and a professor, was attacked by a teenage mob on bicycles Saturday evening in New York City.

Prabhjot Singh, a physician and a professor, was attacked by a teenage mob on bicycles Saturday evening in New York City.

Prabhjot Singh, a physician and a professor in New York City, was attacked Saturday night in an apparent hate crime by a group of teenagers shouting anti-Muslim slurs as he walked near Central Park.

According to the New York Police Department report of the incident, at approximately 8:15 on Saturday evening Prabhjot Singh and a friend were walking near Central Park, in Harlem, when they were approached by “juveniles” on bicycles shouting anti-Muslim statements. Several approached him and hit him and pulled on his beard while still on their bicycles. 

As he ran away from the teenagers, they struck several time as they rode past him on their bicycles, a sergeant from the Deputy Commissioner John McCarthy told SikhNN. Prabhjot Singh fell to the ground and was surrounded by 15 to 20 youths. They proceeded to kick him in the body and face until a “good Samaritan” stopped them and called the police. 

Prabhjot Singh was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with lacerations to his lip and a possible fracture to his lower jaw, the sergeant said. The only description he gave of his attackers was that one was a black male with big hair. 

The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, he added. There is no further information. 

In a video interview today with Huffington Post, Prabhjot Singh said an oral surgeon wired his fractured jaw back into place, but remarkably “I’m okay. I’m able to talk to you.”

He also said he heard the teenagers yell, “Get him,” “Osama,” and “terrorist.” And described them as young black men. 

Prabhjot Singh is a medical doctor in East Harlem, and also is assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University. 

According to today’s Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund news release, shortly after that incident, a Muslim woman also was attacked a few blocks away.

In the first nationwide public-perception assessment of Sikh Americans, titled "Turban Myths," sponsored by SALDEF and conducted by Stanford University, 70 percent of Americans think turbans wearers in the US as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto, when nearly all turban-wearers in the US are Sikhs.  

The study also found that nearly half of all Americans believe Sikh is a sect of Islam, and more associate the turban with Osama bin Laden than with named Muslim and Sikh alternatives. About 70 percent cannot identify a Sikh as a Sikh in a picture, and nearly 80 percent do not know that Sikhs are from India.

The study involved surveys, social science research and extensive interviews of influencers in the Sikh and civil rights community.

“Coming from the world of peace innovation we see a real path forward as a result of this research,” said Stanford University researcher and Peace Innovation Lab co-director, Margarita Quihuis. “The bottom line is that these misperceptions are caught, not taught.  Good people make associations based on imagery and messages all around them...  In this case, the Sikh American community has an opportunity to fill those perception gaps with the truth, in a constructive way, to foster peace.” 

_________________________From Sikh News Network archives.