Tag Archives: sikh

Pols and Sikh Cultural Society respond to alleged Sikh hate crime


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Just days after a Sikh professor at Columbia University was brutally attacked, the Sikh community and elected officials gathered in Richmond Hill to speak out against what is being investigated as a hate crime.

Dr. Prabhjot Singh was walking through Harlem on Saturday, September 21 when more than a dozen attackers shouted slurs such as “Osama” and “terrorist” before grabbing Singh’s beard and beating him to the ground. He suffered a fractured jaw in the attack, according to a family friend.

“You are not suffering alone,” said Assemblymember David Weprin outside the Sikh Cultural Society. “Hate crimes against any group of people are intolerable and preventable.”

Weprin stood alongside Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, City Councilmember and Public Advocate candidate Letitia James, City Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Mark Weprin and the Richmond Hill Sikh community, who all condemned the crime against Singh.

“We have to stand up each and every time there’s a biased attack,” de Blasio said.

He added the city should use “aggressive policing” against violent, biased crimes as well as utilize “every tool” to make sure these attacks don’t happen again. He specifically noted educating youth in schools about different religions.

Sona Rai, Singh’s friend and spokesperson, said that Singh is out of the hospital and already back at work. He now wants to give his attackers an opportunity to ask about his faith and his connection to the community, Rai said.

Rai, also a board member of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, added that the overwhelming support in response to Singh’s incident has given him a “renewed sense” of how important his work is.

“The best way to deal with hate crimes in the city of New York is to come together,” James said. “We must respond forcefully as one community. Our differences are really are greatest strengths.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 88. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 66. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Zumba on the Beach

This is the last chance of the summer to take an evening Zumba class at Rockaway Beach. This free Shape Up NYC class is a fusion of Latin, International and popular music dance that features aerobic, fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body with easy to follow dance steps. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

LIRR worker fatally electrocuted in Queens

A Long Island Rail Road worker is dead after he came in contact with the third rail near the Queens Village station.The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says service was temporarily suspended around the area after the accident Monday morning. Read more: AP/Wall Street Journal

Drama brewing over axed arts program in Glendale

Encore! A coalition of parents, teachers and students are rallying behind a displaced Queens drama teacher to ensure this isn’t his curtain call. Theater teacher Evan Behlivanis, 31, was told in late July that his nine-year tenure at Public School/Intermediate School 119 in Glendale was coming to an end due to budget constraints. Read more:  New York Daily News

Tennis fans brave soggy start to U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is back up and running in Queens with scores of eager fans ready for action following a three hour and 15-minute rain delay earlier today. About 700,000 fans are expected to visit Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the 20-day tournament. Read more: NY1

City has just one Parks Enforcement Patrol officer for all of Queens, union charges

The ranks of city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers are so thin that only one officer is available to patrol all Queens parks this summer, union officials charged. Read more: New York Daily News

New Yorkers want to throw Department Of Sanitation policy in the trash

New Yorkers are crying foul over a sanitation policy that they say needs to be trashed. “I think it’s crazy that without a warning or anything, it should have been a warning. Unless they’re trying to make money, which is what I think,” Raymond Jansson of Whitestone, Queens told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez on Monday night. Read more: CBS New York

Tropical Storm Isaac takes aim at New Orleans

Tropical Storm Isaac had nearly reached hurricane strength as it bore down on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday and appeared to be taking direct aim at New Orleans, almost seven years to the day since the Crescent City was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Read more: Reuters

Republican National Convention enlists first Sikh speaker

An American Sikh is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., the first time the party has invited a Sikh to speak at a national convention. Read more: New York Times

 

 

Enough is enough


| editorial@queenscourier.com


When will the politicians listen? When will something finally be done to end the senseless violence?

Now it seems we are not even safe in our houses of worship.

The recents massacre of six inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin — the second such mass slaying in as many months — has hit home.

Queens, which prides itself on its multiculturalism, is home to a large Sikh community, a community now left wondering and worrying.

Why did shooter Wade Michael Page, identified in reports as an Army veteran and possible skinhead or white supremacist, target the Sikh community?

A tattoo on his arm was dedicated as a 9/11 memorial.

The irony is that 9/11 was executed by Muslim extremists — not Sikhs — and that the Sikh Coalition was formed on September 11, 2001, following backlash against the religion and its followers, often mistaken for Muslims.

And though, in the wake of the shooting, the NYPD has stepped up patrols outside Sikh temples, called gurdwara, we must be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE.

Over the past few weeks The Courier has been urging you, our readers and advertisers, to let our legislators know that something must be done about gun control — and it must be done NOW.

Page was reportedly in a white supremacist band called “End Apathy.”

We say it’s time to put an end to our apathy and push our elected officials on gun control.

Write, call, email — TODAY — and tell your local senator and congressmember, even the president, that you are in favor of gun control.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Phone: 202-456-1111

 

Senator Charles Schumer: 322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington D.C. 20510

Phone: 202-224-6542

 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: 780 Third Avenue Suite 2601

New York, New York 10017

Phone: 212-688-6262

 

Richmond Hill man loses uncle in Milwaukee temple shooting


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Hours after Mohan Singh Khatra was installed as chair of the Sikh Cultural Society in Queens, the celebration was disrupted when he learned his uncle had been among those killed in the shooting at a Wisconsin gurdwara.

Members at the gurdwara in Richmond Hill first heard the news of the Milwaukee massacre, executed by Army veteran and reported white supremacist Wade Michael Page, at around 2 p.m. After calling several relatives in Milwaukee, Khatra finally received the tragic news that his uncle, Suved Singh Khatra, was killed.

The nephew, 49, already planned on making the trek to Wisconsin to visit his 78-year-old uncle this weekend, but his trip was expedited in light of the tragedy.

The night before the shooting, Khatra and his uncle spoke for the last time, discussing details of the visit, with his uncle imploring Khatra to stay with him.

Khatra said he was not angry about the shooting that took his uncle’s life, but, rather, sad.

“I feel really bad because we never can see him again,” Khatra said.

Suved Singh Khatra moved to Milwaukee from India about 12 years ago, owning a small business, before finding work as a taxi driver.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Richmond Hill gurdwara a day after the shooting to offer his condolences to Khatra and the rest of the Sikh community.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter what religion you profess, you have a right to be safe in your homes, your places of worship and on the streets of New York City,” the mayor said. “We have no tolerance for intolerance or for lawless violence.”

The tragic incident had the potential to be much worse, if not for the intervention of police officers, Khatra said.

“I especially thank that police officer [veteran Sam Lenda, who shot and killed Page] who saved many individuals lives,” he said. “He did a great job.”

Despite the tragedy Khatra remained confident this was an isolated incident.

“We’re all Americans, this can happen anywhere,” Khatra said. “We are safe here in New York. We are all American citizens.”

Sikh shooting in Wisconsin hits home in Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Though hundreds of miles away, the shooting at a Wisconsin gurdwara struck close to home for the tens of thousands of Sikhs in Queens.

“New York and particularly southeast Queens is the center of Sikh life in the United States,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg outside the Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill on Monday, August 6.

Of the at least 300,000 Sikhs in the United States, between 30,000 to 40,000 live in New York City, with the bulk residing in Queens.

Elected officials and religious leaders held two press conferences at the Sikh Cultural Society — where thousands of Sikhs congregate weekly — the day after the shooting rampage inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin to offer condolences to the community and show support.

The shooting by Army veteran and reported white supremacist Wade Michael Page that killed six shook the Sikh community throughout the borough.

“People go for worship; they are praying to God and they get killed,” said Gurdev Singh Kang, president of the Sikh Cultural Society. “Their loved ones were home and [the victims] are not going back home.”

Following the shooting, police were dispatched to Sikh gurdwaras throughout the city to prevent any copycat crimes, though no threats were reported. Commissioner Ray Kelly said the NYPD will keep a presence at gurdwaras and continue to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis.

Harpreet Singh Toor, who works at the Sikh Cultural Society, thanked the mayor and commissioner for assuring no new incidents took place, but said he always felt secure in the city.

“We are safe in New York City,” agreed Richmond Hill resident Devinder Singh.

Singh said that there is understanding in the city about the religion, though 9/11 introduced many problems for the community.

Post-9/11, the country experienced a large spike in hate crimes against Sikhs, said Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition. Incidents have slowed in recent years, with zero being reported against Sikhs in 2011 or so far in 2012 according to the NYPD, but Singh said discrimination in schools and the work place still persists.

“There have been 11 years where the predominant image of a turban and beard is that of a terrorist,” Singh said.

Religious leaders of all faiths descended on the gurdwara to stand as one with the Sikhs and try to breed understanding by all citizens.

“We stand as a community not divided, but united,” said Pastor Matthew Singh, of New Haven Ministries in Richmond Hill. “Let this be a message for those that hate, we will stand together. When you hurt one, you hurt all.”

Councilmember Mark Weprin cited education as the key to weeding out discrimination.

“If there is one possible silver lining that these people may not have died in vain it’s the idea that maybe we can educate people about Sikhism and other religions so we get to know each other better so maybe we hate a little less and maybe in the future protect another tragedy.”

Queens Sikhs vow to help victims


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

BY SAMUEL LIEBERMAN & CHRISTOPHER BRITO

One day after the massacre of six at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, an NYPD patrol car was stationed outside the Sikh Center of New York in Flushing.

“This is a hate crime so it not going to be easy to stop,” said Gurvinder Singh, 45, a temple member. “Synagogues have security, churches have security, and now our temples have security.”

On Monday, August 6, officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, gathered with Sikh leaders to condemn the violence and assure them that the city would dispatch additional resources at temples, or gurdwaras.

Sikh leaders at Queens temples said they shared a sense of relief at the stationing of police officers outside.

Gianee Anand Singh, 59, leader at the Sikh Sabha of New York in Flushing, said he never felt afraid to enter his place of worship, yet the police presence still puts him at ease.

“I am grateful to the American government for doing something for us,” he said. Gurkran Jeet Singh, 32, echoed the sentiment.

“This [tragedy] is too bad,” he said. “We are scared of that happening. We are scared for ourselves. But the police are helpful, they make us feel more safe.”

Singh said that the Sikh Sabha, with between 200 and 300 members, intends to help the victims of the Milwaukee massacre.

“Together, all the Sikh community will do something,” he said.

Bloomberg offers condolences to Queens Sikh community following Milwaukee shooting


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office

Dozens of Queens Sikhs joined the mayor in Richmond Hill, including one man who lost an uncle in the Milwaukee shooting, to offer their support and condolences to the families of those who were killed.

“I think it fair to say New Yorkers of every faith are joining the Sikh community in praying for the recovery of those gravely wounded in that terrible attack,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Before meeting with the press, Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sat down with Sikh leaders at the Sikh Cultural Center to personally offer their condolences to the religious community.

Approximately 15,000 Sikhs live in Richmond Hill and the surrounding areas.

Mohan Singh Khatra, whose uncle was among the six killed at a shooting inside a Milwaukee temple, said he was not angry, but sad. Khatra said he had spoken to his uncle, Suved Singh, about 12 hours before the shooting and discussed an upcoming visit.

“I feel really bad because we never can see him again,” Khatra said.

Immediately following the shooting in Wisconsin, police officers were dispatched to city Sikh temples to prevent any copy cat crimes.

The president of the Richmond Hill temple bemoaned the fact that this took place at a religious institution.

“People go for worship; they are praying to God and they get killed,” said Gurdev Singh Kang. “Their loved ones were home and they are not going back home.”

Harpreet Singh Toor, a spokesperson for the Richmond Hill temple, said he always felt safe in New York City.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter what religion you profess you have a right to be safe in your homes, your places of worship and on the streets of New York City,” the mayor said. “We have no tolerance for intolerance or for lawless violence.”