Washington, Aug 6: Mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans, the Sikh community in the US has faced more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents since the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The first person murdered after the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh, a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque, according to New York-based advocacy group Sikh Coalition.
Some Sikhs had their houses vandalised, others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, they were set upon by groups of people and beaten in a country which is home to about 700,000 Sikhs.
According to a CNN compilation, the attacks since 9/11 include:
* Sep 15, 2001: An aircraft mechanic named Frank Roque guns down Balbir Singh Sodhi outside a Mesa gas station.
* Dec 2001: Two men beat store owner Surinder Singh 20 times with metal poles in Los Angeles, while uttering, “We’ll kill bin Laden today”.
* March 2004: Vandals scrawl the words, “It’s not your country” in blue spray paint on the wall of the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Fresno, California. The temple was also vandalised a year earlier.
* July 2004: Rajinder Singh Khalsa is beaten unconscious by six men in New York City, after they taunt him and his friend about their turban. The beating leaves Khalsa with multiple fractures.
* Aug 2006: Iqbal Singh is stabbed in the neck with a steak knife in San Jose, California, while he was standing in the carport of his house. The attacker later tells police he wanted to “kill a Taliban”.
* Oct 2008: Ajit Singh Chima is punched and kicked in the head while out on his daily walk in Carteret, New Jersey. The attacker does not take anything from Chima.
* January 2009: Jasmir Singh is attacked outside a New York grocery store, with men shouting racial slurs. Two years later, his father is attacked.
* Nov 2010: Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cab driver, is beaten by two passengers in Sacramento, California, with one of them calling him “Osama bin Laden”.
* March 2011: Gurmej Singh Atwal and Surinder Singh are gunned down in Elk Grove, California, while out on their afternoon walk. They are not robbed and had no enemies, family members say.
* Feb 2012: A Sikh temple under construction in Sterling Heights, Michigan, is defaced, with graffiti on the wall depicting a gun and a Christian cross. Someone also scrawls “Mohmed” on the wall.