Chase Little and Dustin Albarado have been arrested on suspicion of felony assault in the attack of Maan Singh Khalsa, while a third suspect has not been apprehended yet. Maan Singh Khalsa, a Sikh Information Technology Specialist, was waiting at a red light in Richmond, California, home to the prominent Sikh Temple Gurdwara Shaib.
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion and nation which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region of northern South Asia. Sikh art and culture are nearly synonymous with that of the Punjab, and Sikhs are easily recognized by their distinctive turban (Dastar) and uncut hair which is kept covered with that turban.
A Sikh man was brutally beaten by three Chevron contractors who also cut off his hair, which represents a huge offense to Sikhs and their religion, because they allow their hair to grow naturally as a symbol of respect for God’s perfect creation. “The attackers caused physical injuries and deep harm when they targeted my Sikh faith,” Khalsa wrote in a public statement. “I urge a thorough investigation so we can address the tide of violence and bigotry in this country.” Sikhs have been increasingly targeted since the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 due to their turbans and facial hair.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt was distressed when he heard of this attack and said that his office, the Police Department and the District Attorney have received communication from The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization, and he appreciates their efforts to support Mr. Khalsa and to represent the interests of the community. He also noted that in Richmond, they cherish the various cultures and backgrounds that contribute to their great diversity.
Sikh Coalition sent a letter to the Richmond Police Department and Contra Costa County District Attorney urging the authorities to conduct a hate crime investigation. Sikh Coalition Legal Director Harsimran Kaur and Staff Attorney Pawanpreet Kaur wrote in the letter that Khalsa’s traditional turban and unshorn hair and beard “religiously-mandated articles of faith” that deserve protection.
This and many other attacks caused by religious intolerance and religious ignorance are according to many people completely preventable through extensive religious education in public schools. Many innocent people are harmed based on their beliefs and it should be important for authorities to try to prevent and after all determine appropriate penalties for all forms of violence including religious ones.
Photo Credits: WIkimedia