A teenager convicted of hate crime for cutting the hair of a Sikh schoolmate in the US has ducked jail time in exchange for a year of community service and an essay for the judge.
Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld ordered Umair Ahmed, 19, to complete 180 hours of community service and write 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 . "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 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.
Following a rally calling for more protection for Sikh students, Klein met privately with Jagmohan Singh Premi, 18, who was assaulted on Tuesday at Richmond Hill High School in Queens.