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Drunks Beat Sikh Family in Queens, N.Y.
By SONI SANGHA and RICHARD WEIR
Puneet Singh Lamba's letter to New York Daily News: It is unfortunate that organizations claiming to represent Sikhs feel the need to distance Sikhism from Islam ("Sikhism originated in South Asia and is not related to Islam."). Sikh scripture contains hymns written by Muslims, acknowledges the spirituality of the Koran, and urges followers to contemplate the work (Adi Granth, pp. 897, 1083, 1350). A closer relationship between Sikhism and Islam would not have made bias crimes any more acceptable.
New York Daily News, Aug. 5, 2003
"A Sikh family was beaten in front of their Queens home by drunks who yelled, 'Go back to your country, Bin Laden,' police and witnesses said yesterday. Surinder Singh, 41, was walking to his Woodside house Sunday night after parking his car when three men, noticing his turban and thick beard, began taunting him with anti-Arab epithets. The 41-year-old cab driver was returning with his wife, two kids and a cousin after picking up dinner at an Indian restaurant [in Jackson Heights]. 'I'm from India. I'm Sikh. Come on, man,' Singh explained to the men, according to his cousin Lakhvir Singh Gill."
"The three drunks responded by spitting on him, said Gill, who was across the street getting the food from the car while Singh and his family walked ahead. Gill, 33, said when he rushed over to intervene, the men attacked him, knocking him to the street. One held him in a headlock and punched him, while another pummeled him with his fists and a third kicked him repeatedly. 'I tried to hold my face. They hit my forehead, my back. They kept hitting me,' he said. Singh's 33-year-old wife, who declined to give her name, said she was slugged when she tried to free Gill. 'They punched me two times on the back,' she said. She grabbed her attacker and told him, 'I'm not letting go.' "
"The 10:15 p.m. attack at 59th St. and 47th Ave. ended when a pizza deliveryman and two women who live on the block, one armed with a bat, rushed over, prompting the thugs to scatter, witnesses said. 'If they kept going, I think they would have killed him,' the pizza deliveryman, Gregory Hodge, 41, said of Gill. Hodge was parking his car after delivering a pie when he said Singh, a customer, recognized him. 'He was saying 'Help me, help me, you know me,' ' Hodge recalled. The family refused medical care, police said. Police searched the neighborhood by foot and helicopter for the attackers, described as white and around 19. They had not made any arrests yesterday in the case, which investigators labeled a possible bias crime."
"Harpreet Singh, a spokesman for the New York-based Sikh Coalition, said attacks against Sikhs, which peaked in the days after the terror attacks, have been mounting again in recent weeks with tensions in the Middle East. 'It's just disturbing that fellow Americans are unable to recognize that Sikhs are part of the American mosaic,' he said. 'It induces fear where there shouldn't be.' Sikhism originated in South Asia and is not related to Islam. It requires men to cover their hair, which they cannot trim. Harpreet Singh said bigots often mistakenly attack Sikh men because they associate turbans with Arab terrorists. 'A lot has to do with ignorance, that people don't understand what the turban stands for,' he said. Gill downplayed the beating, which left him badly bruised. 'They were drunk,' he said of his attackers, joking, 'They ruined our dinner.' "