Sikhs Fear Hate Crime Trend in the Wake of Santa Clara Stabbing

August 3, 2006

Source: Contra Costa Times

On August 3, 2006 the Contra Costa Times reported, "The weekend stabbing of a Sikh man in Santa Clara whose assailant allegedly thought he was a member of the Taliban raises fears that turmoil in the Middle East could fuel similar hate-based crimes, a Contra Costa Sikh leader said Wednesday.

"I think the more flare-ups you get there, the more incidents you're going to have in this country," said J.P. Singh, president of Gurdwara Sahib, the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in El Sobrante. "And some of them will result from mistaken identity because there's not enough education about who the people next door are."

Everett Thompson, 25, is charged with attempted murder with a hate-crime enhancement in connection with the stabbing of his Sikh neighbor, Iqbal Singh 66, on Sunday. Singh, who is not related to J.P. Singh, is expected to survive... Memories of ethnically motivated crime are vivid at the El Sobrante temple, whose former member Balbir Singh Sodhi was the nation's first fatal victim of a hate crime after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A former Walnut Creek resident, Sodhi was standing in front of the gas station he owned in Mesa, Ariz., on Sept. 15, 2001, when he was shot by a man who shouted, 'I stand for America all the way' as he was being handcuffed and later told police all Arabs should be shot and that he wanted to 'slit some Iranians' throats.'

The shooter, Frank Roque, was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in 2003 and sentenced to death.

Since Sodhi's murder, Singh and other Sikh leaders nationwide have worked to raise the profile of the Sikh faith and culture.

Locally, Richmond cable TV has shown the program 'Sikhs in America.'

And the El Sobrante temple, as well as other Sikh temples such as Sri Guru Ravidass temple in Pittsburg, have sponsored events aimed at the community at large. The temples invite members of any religion to come and worship.

Still, many people equate Sikhs with Arabs or Muslims in general, J.P. Singh says."