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THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
The local community responded to an alleged hate crime against a Sikh American professor.

Just days after a Sikh professor at Columbia University was brutally attacked, the Sikh community and elected officials gathered in Richmond Hill to speak out against what is being investigated as a hate crime.

Dr. Prabhjot Singh was walking through Harlem on Saturday, September 21 when more than a dozen attackers shouted slurs such as “Osama” and “terrorist” before grabbing Singh’s beard and beating him to the ground. He suffered a fractured jaw in the attack, according to a family friend.

“You are not suffering alone,” said Assemblymember David Weprin outside the Sikh Cultural Society. “Hate crimes against any group of people are intolerable and preventable.”

Weprin stood alongside Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, City Councilmember and Public Advocate candidate Letitia James, City Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Mark Weprin and the Richmond Hill Sikh community, who all condemned the crime against Singh.

“We have to stand up each and every time there’s a biased attack,” de Blasio said.

He added the city should use “aggressive policing” against violent, biased crimes as well as utilize “every tool” to make sure these attacks don’t happen again. He specifically noted educating youth in schools about different religions.

Sona Rai, Singh’s friend and spokesperson, said that Singh is out of the hospital and already back at work. He now wants to give his attackers an opportunity to ask about his faith and his connection to the community, Rai said.

Rai, also a board member of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, added that the overwhelming support in response to Singh’s incident has given him a “renewed sense” of how important his work is.

“The best way to deal with hate crimes in the city of New York is to come together,” James said. “We must respond forcefully as one community. Our differences are really are greatest strengths.”

 

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