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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

The Other End of the Hate Spectrum: Sikh Professor assaulted, called "Osama" in New York

A Sikh lecturer at Columbia University has been attacked in New York by a group of men calling him a "terrorist" and "Osama".

Dr Prabhjot Singh of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia was pounced upon by several men in the city's Harlem neighbourhood on Saturday night in what police suspect is a hate crime.

The father-of-one was rushed to hospital "bloodied and bruised and with a fractured jaw" a friend was quoted as saying.

Wring in the Huffington Post on Sunday, Professor Singh's friend Simran Jeet Singh, a PhD student at Columbia said: “Last night, I received the kind of phone call that everyone dreads: Dr Prabhjot Singh, a young Sikh American professor at Columbia University, had been brutally attacked on a public street, the victim of a violent hate crime.”

While in hospital, Dr Singh told police that his assailants taunted him and beat him, calling him “Osama” and “terrorist” as they pulled at his long beard. He was repeatedly punched in the face and head as he lay on the sidewalk.

Singh had returned from dinner, dropping his wife and one-year-old son at home before going for a walk.  While being attacked, he saw one of the assailants put his arm inside his coat as if reaching for a gun. 

Jeet Singh described the young professor as someone who has “dedicated his life to serving the underserved.”
He is currently the director of systems management at the Earth Institute, and “draws upon his experiences abroad to help improve the health of local communities like Harlem.”

Singh is also a resident physician at a leading New York hospital. “Unfortunately his assailants did not see Prabhjot Singh, the professor, the community health expert or the local doctor. They saw a man wearing a beard and a turban — his articles of faith — and saw a target. Sadly, for many other Sikh Americans like Prabhjot, this is a story they have heard and experienced before,” Jeet Singh said in his online post.

Singh has been discharged from hospital and met with officials from the New York Police Department Hate Crime Task Force, who are investigating the incident.

Following the attack on Singh, the New York chapter of the civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on state political and religious leaders to speak out against bias-motivated crimes.

“New York’s religious and political leaders must speak out forcefully against the type of bigotry that leads to hate attacks on people of all faiths and backgrounds,” said CAIR-NY operations coordinator Sadyia Khalique in a statement.

- Agencies (Edited by Viji Alles)

Picture courtesy of Columbia University

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