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Hate Crimes


Hatred in the Hallways: Sikh students attacked in NY schools


According to the Southern Poverty Law Center "the number of hate crimes was probably closer to 50,000" than the 8,000 annual figure reported by the FBI.

The dimension of the hate crimes problem in America may be drastically underestimated due to a voluntary reporting system that results in significant underreporting of these crimes.

The Sikh Coalition including four New York City Council Members today to release a first ever research report on bias against Sikh children in New York City Schools:

  • More than 58 percent of Sikh students in New York City public schools have been the victims of name-calling, threats or physical abuse due to their religion.
  • More than 75 percent of male Sikh students who live in Queens have been subjected to teasing or harassment
  • More than 18 percent of Sikhs have been told they look like terrorists by other students
  • Most of the harassed student said that their school administrators failed to provide any assistance following complaints

The Title of the report “Hatred in the Hallways,” was not scheduled for publication until September.

John Liu, the City Councilman requested for immediate action to protect Sikh students and have accused Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and the Department of Education of turning a blind eye to the incident.

The Coalition issued the Hatred in the Hallways report in response to the hair cutting incident involving a Sikh student in Elmhurst, Queens, New York:

  • On May 25, 2007, a Pakistani student, 17, allegedly forced Vacher Harpal, his 15-year-old Sikh classmate, into a bathroom at his Queens school, removed his turban and chopped his waist-length hair to his neck.
  • Amardeep Singh, the executive director of the coalition, said that Harpal had complained about harassment by other students on five separate occasions before the incident, but administrators had done little to intervene. “That is not acceptable. That is not what New York is about
  • Prosecutors have charged the alleged perpetrator with hate crime.

In America, only the Sikhs wear turban! The Coalition calls on all Sikhs to stand up for their rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith

A host of religious and civil rights organizations joined the Coalition at the press conference to express solidarity between all communities in ensuring all children are safe at schools. These and other organizations also joined the Coalition in signing a joint statement on the issue.Thes were:

  • South Asian Youth Action
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund,
  • American Jewish Committee,
  • Council on American Islamic Relations - New York,
  • Muslim Bar Association of New York, New Immigrant Community Empowerment,
  • South Asian Bar Association of New York, and
  • Women in Islam all joined the Coalition at the press conference.