A 53-year-old Sikh man became on Tuesday the latest victim of attacks that started on his community just days after September 11 in 2001 and continue unabated 14 years since.
Inderjit Singh Mukker was on his way to a grocery store in Darien, a Chicago suburb, when a man in a car forced him to stop, called him “bin Laden”, “terrorist” and assaulted him.
The assailant told Mukker, according to the Sikh Coalition, a group that tracks hate-crimes and represents victims, “Terrorist, go back to your country, bin Laden!”.
Mukker, a taxi-driver and father of two, was punched several times in the face that left him unconscious, with blood steaming down his face and fractured cheekbone.
Son of Sikh-American who was assaulted narrates horror
The assailant is in custody and the local police have said they are considering hate crime charges against him, which, by law, attract additional and tougher penalties.
“We believe Mr. Mukker was targeted and assaulted because of his Sikh religious appearance, race or national origin,” said Harsimran Kaur, legal director of Sikh Coalition.
And the victim has asked for the assault to be investigated as a hate crime, saying in a statement, “No American should be afraid to practice their faith in our country”
Balbir Singh Sodhi, an Arizona gas-station owner, became the first victim of the 9/11 backlash when he was shot dead on September 15 by a man who wanted to “kill a Muslim”.
The assailant mistook Sodhi for a Muslim because of his beard and the turban, which had come to be associated with Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and others.
There have been many attacks on Sikhs since.
The worst of them took place in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012 when a white supremacist gunned down six Sikh men and women at a gurudwara, before killing himself.
The Sikh Coalition listed several in the last 12 months alone — a Sikh professor was assaulted in Harlem; a Sikh business owner was run over and dragged under a truck in Queens; and a Sikh doctor was assaulted on Roosevelt Island.
And 41% of Sikhs surveyed in New York, said the coalition, had been called “Osama bin Laden” and “terrorist”, and 9% of Sikh adults have been assaulted since 9/11 because of who they are.