Attack on Sikh Columbia professor may be hate crime


Mourners pray during a memorial service at Oak Creek High School to mourn the loss of six members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Aug.10, 2012 in Oak Creek, Wis.


Scott Olson

A Sikh Columbia University professor was brutally beaten in New York City on Saturday night, and authorities are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. 

School of International and Public Affairs professor Prabhjot Singh was walking in New York City's East Harlem area on Saturday evening when he was confronted by over a dozen teenagers on bicycles who began shouting offensive comments at him, writes NBC 4 New York.

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"I heard 'Get Osama' and then 'terrorists,' and then the next thing I felt was someone moving past me, ripping at my beard and then hitting me in the chin," said Singh to NBC 4 New York.

Singh began to run but was pursued, and kicked and beaten even after he fell to the ground, and suffered a broken jaw and bruising, writes the Columbia Spectator.

Although the motivations of the attackers aren't currently known, police are investigating to see if the unprovoked attack was a hate crime. Singh has already met with the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, and the Columbia Department of Public Safety following the incident. 

Sikhs are followers of Sikhism, a religion that originated in 15th-century Punjab and now boasts over 200 million followers worldwide. Many Sikhs have immigrated to Western countries, and a significant population exists in the US, although exact figures are hard to come by. 

Singh had written a New York Times last summer decrying the Oak Creek shooting at a Sikh temple in urban Milwaukee, which killed six people and brought international attention to the discrimination faced by American Sikhs.

In the piece, Singh suggested that the US begin recording attacks against Sikh's separately as attacks against Muslims, claiming that such violence is often "purposeful and targeted."