A 19-year old Sikh youth, who was attacked in a bus here, on Wednesday said he is “shaken and angered” by the assault and no one should be harassed because of how they look.
“I am shaken and angered by this attack. I believe that no one should be assaulted or harassed because of how they look, and everyone should be able to go about their business in public in peace,” the young man said in a statement issued by advocacy and rights group The Sikh Coalition.
He said while he wished to keep his privacy at this time, he thanked “everyone from different communities who have spoken out in support of me as well as the authorities who are taking this hate crime seriously”.
According to the statement, the young Sikh man was struck repeatedly on Sunday while riding a New York City MTA bus.
“His turban was specifically targeted, and the perpetrator used xenophobic language throughout the incident,” the statement said.
The Sikh Coalition said it has since connected with the young man to offer legal aid and other support. The organisation remains in conversation with both the young man and the New York Police Department (NYPD) about the ongoing investigation.
In a statement, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney Amreen Partap Singh Bhasin said: “Given that this young Singh’s turban was targeted during the attack, we are heartened that this incident is being investigated as a hate crime.”
Bhasin added that there is no doubt that national and international events are contributing to a climate of anxiety among Sikh and other communities, as she cited the murder in Illinois of six-year-old Palestinian American boy Wadea Al-Fayoume, who was stabbed 26 times at his home by Joseph Czuba, amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine tensions.
“We do not at this time see a direct connection between this attack and external events. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Sikhs remain disproportionately at risk for attacks like this one, as evidenced by the FBI’s latest hate crime data released just this week,” she said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had released its annual report of hate crimes statistics, reflecting information about hate crimes for 2022. The data notes that religiously motivated hate crime victimisations were at their highest since 2001, with an increase of 17 per cent since 2021.
It said anti-Sikh hate crime victimisations were recorded by the FBI as the highest number ever at 198, and Sikhs still remain the second-most targeted group in the nation for religiously-motivated hate crime incidents.
Victimisations were also on the rise for numerous other faith communities, with 1,217 anti-Jewish hate crimes, 200 anti-Islamic hate crimes, and 29 anti-Hindu hate crimes, the group noted.