Mob Violence and Mistaken Identity (Will Grigg)
Monday September 30th, 2013
Columbia University professor Prahhjot Singh was beaten by a mob in New York City on September 21st. Like other Sikh men, Professor Singh – who was born and raised in the United States and offers medical services in Harlem – wears a turban and a long beard.
The mob that beat Professor Singh called him “Osama” and accused him of being a terrorist. This kind of thing is hardly uncommon: Since 9/11, scores of Sikhs have been beaten or abused – or murdered -- by people mistakenly believing them to be Arab terrorists.
Commercial trucker Jageet Singh was the victim of an even worse variety of mob violence in Mississippi. When he suffered a flat tire last January, police officers who arrived on the scene accused him of being a terrorist, made derogatory remarks about his religion, forced him to circle his truck with his hands on his head while the vehicle was searched, and then arrested him for supposedly refusing to obey an officer.
When Singh appeared in court, the judge ordered him to remove his headdress – which he called “that rag” – or be forced to wait until the end of the day to have his case heard. Singh eventually prevailed in court—after enduring a lengthy, expensive, and unnecessary ordeal.