A teenager convicted of hate crime for cutting the hair of a Sikh schoolmate in the US has escaped jail time, shocking the community which is already seething after another student was attacked this week.
Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld ordered Umair Ahmed, 19, to complete 180 hours of community service and write an essay about what he'd learned since his attack on 16-year-old Harpal Vacher. Based on Ahmed's conduct in the next year, Blumenfeld will decide next June whether to put him behind bars.
“What you did was incredibly stupid,” Blumenfeld was quoted as saying by New York Daily News. “Incarceration just can't be the only answer. For this next year, the threat of jail hangs over your head.”
Ahmed faced upto four years behind bars for the May 24, 2007, attack on Harpal, in which he dragged the Newtown High School freshman into a school bathroom, ripped off his turban and cut off his waist-length hair, prosecutors said.
Ahmed was irate over a taunt about his mother, authorities said. A Queens jury convicted Ahmed of felony menacing and coercion charges, both hate crimes, along with weapons possession and harassment.
The verdict which angered Sikh advocacy groups came as New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein personally apologised to another Sikh student who was punched in the face with a set of keys by a teen trying to rip off his turban.