Muslims condemn attack on Sikh family in New York
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned an attack on a Sikh family in New York that was apparently motivated by religious or ethnic bias. The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said preventing bias-motivated attacks must be a “top priority” for American political and religious leaders.
According to media reports, three men attacked the family – a married couple and a relative – when they were returning to their Queens, N.Y., home on Sunday evening. The victims, who are immigrants from India, were allegedly punched, spit on and told “bin Laden family, go back to your country.” One of the victims wore a Sikh turban, a religious head covering that has in the past prompted attacks by perpetrators who believe it is part of Islamic attire.
“Bigots and hate-mongers know no boundaries between people of different faiths or ethnicities,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Preventing and prosecuting bias-motivated crimes must be a top priority for our nation’s political and religious leaders.”
Awad noted that a Sikh man who may have been mistaken for an Arab was shot recently in Phoenix, Ariz. Just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, another Sikh man in Arizona was murdered apparently because the killer mistakenly believed the victim was of Middle Eastern origin.
Since the beginning of this year, CAIR has received reports of physical assaults against Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim in California, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina and other states. One incident in Yorba Linda, Calif., left a Muslim teenager badly beaten by a group that allegedly included white supremacists. In Illinois, an explosive device destroyed a Muslim family’s van. And just last month, a New Bedford, Mass., pizza delivery man was kidnapped, beaten and stabbed, apparently because his attackers thought he was Muslim. Two weeks ago, two Pakistani students were shot to death in the same county as the cross-burning. FBI investigators are looking into the incident to determine if bias was a motive.
Just last week, two teenagers were arrested for allegedly burning a cross outside a Maryland Islamic school and mosque. In response to that attack, a Sikh American group issued a news release to show solidarity with the American Muslim community.
Hate crime report forms are available for download at: http://www.cair-net.org/ireport/Incident_Report.doc, or by calling 202-488-8787. CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada.