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History of Hate: Crimes Against Sikhs Since 9/11

8 August 2012 Huffington Post 13 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

History of Hate: Crimes Against Sikhs Since 9/11


The mass shooting of a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Wisconsin on Sunday is merely the latest chapter in a history of violence. In the months following the attacks of 9/11, more than 300 incidences of hate crimes against Sikhs were reported, according to the Sikh Coalition (PDF).

Though their numbers make up the world’s fifth-largest religion, Sikhs are still misunderstood (No, they are not Muslims or Hindus). Below is a round up of notable hate crimes and bias incidents against Sikhs since 9/11. (H/t Buzz Feed.)

Sept. 15, 2001 — Mesa, Ariz.: Four days after the infamous attacks of 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh, is shot and killed outside the gas station he owned by Frank Silva Roque. When police approached to arrest him, Roque says, “I’m a patriot and an American. I’m American. I’m a damn American.” [More from HuffPost.]

Nov. 18, 2001 — Palermo, N.Y.: Three teens burn down Gobind Sadan, a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in New York, because they thought it was named for Osama bin Laden. [More from BeliefNet and Tribune of India.]

Dec. 12, 2001 — Los Angeles, Calif.: Surinder Singh Sidhi, a liquor store owner in Los Angeles who took to wearing an American flag turban after 9/11 out of fear of being attacked, is beaten in his store by two men who accuse of him of being Osama bin Laden. [More from Real Sikhism.]

Aug. 6, 2002 — Daly City, Calif.: Sukhpal Singh, brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was the first Sikh murdered following 9/11, is shot while driving his cab. [More from HuffPostReal Sikhism and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.]

May 20, 2003 — Phoenix, Ariz.: Fifty-two-year-old Sikh immigrant and truck driver Avtar Singh is shot in his 18-wheeler while waiting for his son to pick him up. As he is being shot, he hears someone say: “Go back to where you belong.” [More fromReal Sikhism.]

Aug. 5, 2003 — Queens, N.Y.:Members of a Sikh family are beaten outside of their home by drunk individuals yelling, “Go back to your country, Bin Laden.” [More from NY Daily News.]

Sept. 25, 2003 — Tempe, Ariz.:Sukhvir Singh, a 33-year-old convenience store owner, is stabbed to death by Bruce Phillip Reed. It is not labeled as a hate crime. Representatives of the Phoenix Sikh community issue a statement that says, in part, “Together we can help others to evolve past hate and fear by continuing to organize to reach out to others with increased understanding, respect, and support. May our collective prayer be that God preserve and protect the honor of all people, our nation, and our world.” [More from the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and SikhNet.]

March 13, 2004 — Fresno, Calif.: Gurdwara Sahib, a local Sikh temple, is vandalized with graffiti messages: “Rags Go Home” and “It’s Not Your Country. [More from SALDEF and Real Sikhism.]

July 12, 2004 — New York, N.Y.: Rajinder Singh Khalsa and Gurcharan Singh, cousins on their way to dinner at a restaurant, are beaten by two drunk white twentysomething men. The attackers describe Gurcharan’s turban as a “curtain.” When Rajinder tries to intervene, saying that Sikhs are peaceful, he is beaten unconscious and suffers a fractured eye socket, among other injuries. [More fromReal Sikhism.]

May 24, 2007 — Queens, N.Y.: A 15-year-old student has his hair forcibly cut by an older student at his high school. The scissor-wielding 17-year-old showed the Sikh a ring inscribed with Arabic, saying, “This ring is Allah. If you don’t let me cut your hair, I will punch you with this ring.” Afterward, he cuts the younger boy’s hair. A main pillar of the Sikh faith compels followers to keep their hair uncut. [More fromReal Sikhism and United Sikhs.]

May 30, 2007 — Joliet, Ill.: A decorated U.S. Navy veteran of the Gulf War, Kuldip Singh Nag is approached by a police officer outside of his home for an expired vehicle registration tag. The officer reportedly assaults Nag with pepper spray while hurling expletive-laced anti-immigrant statements. [More from SALDEF and ABC7 News. ]

Jan. 14, 2008 — New Hyde Park, N.Y.: A 63-year-old Sikh, Baljeet Singh, has his jaw and nose broken when attacked outside his temple by a man who lived next-door. David Wood, the attacker, had apparently disturbed members of the gurdwara in the past. [More from United Sikhs.]

Feb. 28, 2008 — Bryan, Texas: A Sikh man is assaulted in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Though the assailant called him a terrorist, punched him in the face and head and knocked his turban off, the Sikh man does not suffer major injuries. [More fromSALDEF.]

June 5, 2008 — Queens, N.Y.: A ninth grade Sikh is attacked by another student, who tried to remove his patka, or under-turban, and had a history of bullying the boy. [More from Real Sikhism and United Sikhs.]

June 5, 2008 — Albuquerque, N.M.: A vehicle belonging to a Sikh family is defaced with the message “F*** Allah!” and a picture of male genitalia. [More fromSALDEF.]

Aug. 4, 2008 — Phoenix, Ariz.: Inderjit Singh Jassal is shot and killed while working at a 7-Eleven. No clear motive is found. [More from SALDEF and The Arizona Republic.]

Oct. 29, 2008 — Carteret, N.J.: A Sikh man, Ajit Singh Chima, goes for a walk in his neighborhood. He is attacked by a man who casually leaves the scene afterward. Nothing is stolen. [More from SALDEF.]

Jan. 30, 2009 — Queens, N.Y.: Three men attack Jasmir Singh outside of a grocery store. Racial slurs are heard. A broken glass bottle is used. Singh loses vision in his left eye. [More from NY Daily News and United Sikhs.]

Nov. 29, 2010 — Sacramento, Calif.: Harbhajan Singh, a cab driver, is a attacked by passangers, who call him Osama bin Laden. Singh believes the attackers,who were later convicted, would have killed him. [More from SALDEF.]

March 6, 2011 — Elk Grove, Calif.: Two elderly Sikh men in traditional garb, out for a daily afternoon walk, are shot and killed. The perpetrator is not found. [More from Southern Poverty Law CenterSALDEF and The Sacramento Bee.]

May 30, 2011 — New York, N.Y.: Jiwan Singh, an MTA worker and the father of Jasmir Singh, who was assaulted in early 2009 in Queens, is attacked on the A train and accused of being related to Osama bin Laden. [More from the NY Daily News.]

Feb. 6, 2012 — Sterling Heights, Mich.: A gurdwara (Sikh temple) is defaced with graffiti that includes a gun and references to 9/11. [More from SALDEF.]

Aug. 5, 2012 — Oak Creek, Wis.: A gunman is shot dead by police after he opened fire in a gurdwara during Sikh prayer services, killing six. [More from HuffPost.]

Report hate crimes and bias incidents to the United Sikhs. Learn about hate crime laws from the Sikh Coalition.


  1. This event is really upsetting.
    These red necks need education!!

  2. Why am I not surprised that this occurred in Arizona — the hate state?

  3. Why am I not surprised that this occurred in Arizona — the hate state?

  4. may they rest in peace

  5. let the sikh die they killed 1.5 million muslims in 1947 and abducted 60000 women its makafat e aamal .now they are dieing for resemblance to muslim

  6. let the sikh die they killed 1.5 million muslims in 1947 and abducted 60000 women its makafat e aamal .now they are dieing for resemblance to muslim

  7. @ Abdullah, then where will it stop? Shouldn’t we try to put past violence behind us rather than perpetuating it?

  8. @ Abdullah, then where will it stop? Shouldn’t we try to put past violence behind us rather than perpetuating it?

  9. I Stand and support my Sikh brothers and sisters. I mourn w you . God bless

  10. I Stand and support my Sikh brothers and sisters. I mourn w you . God bless

  11. I’m a supporter of free speech, but I’m also a supporter of freedom of religion. People these days, especially when they are the majority of the population group, need to understand that the words they used while they are practicing their free speech may inspired other people to commit hate crime.

    The problem in the media and politicians today is that they can lie as much lies as they can about Islam and Muslims and said it’s their right of Freedom Of Speech. They want other people to be inspired to hate Muslims, and when one of their supporters committed a serious crime, everyone back off and said “I didn’t tell him to do that.”

    I’m sure years ago many European claimed that they are entitled of their freedom of speech to show their hatred against the Jews. And when millions of Jews died in Holocaust, most of them back off and said “well I didn’t really mean it to be that way…” What’s the difference between those people and American these days who are publicly outspoken against their hate on Muslims?? They’re doing the same thing!

    People are so inspired by what they saw in the media to the point where they’re blind and thinking they’re attacking the “Muslims” when Sikhs are actually not even Muslims.

  12. Some of the attacks on Sikhs were done by muslims.

  13. Anon,

    I think you were that Muslim (!?).

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