This video highlights 16 major hate crimes against Sikh Americans since 2001. Sikhs belong to a religion founded in Punjab, India, a region that straddles modern-day India and Pakistan.
Since the terrorist attacks in New York City and elsewhere on September 11, 2001, Sikhs in the United States have frequently been mistaken for Muslims and suffered severe violence as a consequence. Many of the victims portrayed in this video report their attackers shouting phrases such as “go back to your country, terrorist” or calling them “Bin Laden,” or using similar slurs. Of course, no Muslim should suffer such violence, but it’s perhaps an even greater tragedy when hatred is directed against innocent people based on a mistaken identity.
As Guru Gobind Singh, one of Sikhism’s teachers, stated: “Recognize the human race as one.” Or, as St. Paul taught in the first century, God “has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” No one can dehumanize any other people group without simultaneously dehumanizing themselves. This video, therefore, intends to show the human faces of the victims of hate.
As the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund reports:
“How many Sikh Americans have fallen victim to hate crimes?
“It is difficult to know the true number of hate crimes against Sikh Americans because many incidents go unreported and because Sikh-specific statistics are currently unavailable. The U.S. Department of Justice has noted that, since 9/11, its Civil Rights Division as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorneys have investigated over 800 bias incidents against Sikh, Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Americans….
“Why are Sikh Americans subjected to hate crimes?
“Sikh Americans are often mistaken for Muslims because of ignorance, and recent surveys have suggested a huge increase in anti-Muslim bigotry in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; but this does not fully explain why Sikh Americans are subjected to hate crimes. Even if Sikhs clarify their religious affiliation and create national awareness about the Sikh religion, bigots may still target Sikh Americans because of racism, religious exclusivity, and xenophobia.”