A man has been charged with a hate crime for attacking a Sikh worshipper near a Gurudwara in Queens area in New York. David Wood, 36, allegedly approached Baljeet Singh, 63, on January14, screaming: "Arab, go back to your country", and beat him up as Singh parked his car outside the gurdwara.
Wood, who lives near the gurdwara, was charged with second-degree assault as a hate crime, second and third degree assault and second-degree aggravated harassment.
He is being held on a $10,000 bail and will return to court Jan 30. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
According to a release by United Sikhs, a rights group, Singh suffered a broken nose and a fractured jaw, both of which will require surgery. He is still on a liquid diet.
The victim told United Sikhs that Wood attacked him and hurled racial abuses at him without any provocation on his part. The congregants of the Gurudwara in New Hyde Park, which the victim's family has attended for 12 years, have previously experienced resentment from the defendant's house due to the proximity of the gurdwara to his residence.
Wood had sometimes turned speakers playing loud music towards the gurdwara during a prayer service. In the past, gurdwara officials had asked congregants to park at a distance.
Sikhs have been facing hate crimes throughout the country after the Sep 9, 2001 attack as people mistake their turbans for Muslim headgear. "Sikhs are targeted because of our appearance. There's a lot of ignorance, anger and hate," said Jaspreet Singh, a staff attorney for United Sikhs.