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Mob Attacks Sikh Professor in Alleged Hate Crime

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 23, 2013 11:57 AM

A Sikh professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs was the target of an alleged hate crime near his home in Harlem on Saturday night, when he was attacked by a mob. Some in the group shouted "Get Osama!"

Prabhjot Singh, 31, who co-wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times about the Milwaukee Sikh temple shooting, said more than a dozen teens on bicycles called him a "terrorist" before they attacked, according to New York's WNBC-TV.

Singh, who wears a beard and a turban, suffered a fractured jaw after being punched in the face three times in addition to being punched and kicked all over his body after falling to the ground.

New York's Hate Crime Law

New York, like many other states, defines a hate crime as a criminal act that's intentionally committed because of a victim's actual or perceived "race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation."

As demonstrated by a racial slur-laced stabbing in Connecticut, a simple assault coupled with a slur can be enough to constitute a hate crime.

In this case, the correlation between the slurs and violence appears quite clear. A group of 25 to 30 young men approached Singh. After one of them said, "Get Osama" and "terrorists," they proceeded to kick and punch Singh all over his body, including blows to his face that led to a fractured jaw, according to New York Daily News.

Fortunately, passersby intervened and prevented Singh from suffering further injuries.

Sikhs Often Confused With Muslims

In his Times op-ed piece about the Milwaukee Sikh temple shooting, Singh noted "The legacy of anti-Sikh violence and its contemporary prevalence make it painfully obvious that anti-Sikh violence is often purposeful and targeted."

While Singh hopes his assailants are caught and held responsible for their actions, he believes it's more critical for people to understand that Sikhs -- whose religion's basic tenets are equality and service to others -- are peaceful people and should not be confused with radical Islamics.

Singh's alleged attackers have not yet been caught.

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