Muslim site hosts US Sikhi poll warning
The undercurrent of apprehension among ethnic minorities in America about possible adverse reactions to the election of the next US president was addressed in a unifying item on The American Muslim website (TAM).
A week before the election, the site posted a story entitled Hate Finds Another Victim in New Jersey.
It gave space for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) to report a street assault on a 67-year-old Sikh American in Carteret, New Jersey.
It recounted how Mr Ajit Singh Chima, walking for exercise, was struck on the head by an Hispanic man who then punched and kicked him as he lay on the ground. His assailant, in his 20s, walked away without attempting to steal from his victim who suffered fractures around his jaw and eyes and was kept in hospital for further tests.
SALDEF has urged the authorities to treat the attack as a possible hate crime.
Rajdeep Singh Jolly, legal director of SALDEF, said that previous attacks against American Sikhs and the fact that the attacker was unknown to the victim left a presumption that bias was a motive.
Cartaret police are already investigating an incident on October 8 in which a 10-year-old boy had his turban ripped off and his hair cut as he walked home from school. His attacker wore a black mask.
There are around 1,000 Sikhs in Cartaret’s population of 22,000.
SALDEF and many other organisations have expressed concern about the use of ethnic and religious slurs in the context of the presidential campaign, says The American Muslim. They protest that there is a perception in both presidential campaigns that to be Muslim or Arab is negative.
SALDEF documented an increase in verbal assaults aimed at Sikhs during October and one example of a hateful, threatening incident is given in the TAM story.
SALDEF national director Rajbir Singh Datta said the bias-filled rhetoric had reached a high and warned the USK Sikh community there was a possibility of hate and bias crimes.
“Individuals who feel no shame about verbally assaulting members of the Sikh American community usually just need a spark to turn violent. We feel the spark may be the outcome of the presidential campaign, regardless of who wins,” he said.
But SALDEF says all Sikh Americans should cast their vote in the election. Just be aware of your surroundings and stay in contact with friends and family, it cautions.
It says any incidents of harassment or violence should be reported immediately to the police and to SALDEF at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (202) 393-2700.
- The American Muslim organisation is dedicated to the promotion of “peace, justice, and reconciliation for all humanity”.
Its aims include providing an open forum for the discussion of ideas and issues of concern to Muslims in America (based on Qur’an and Sunnah) representing no one school of thought, ethnic group or organisation, but encouraging all to be represented in its website pages and to speak for themselves.
TAM has been active in print or online for nearly 20 years.
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