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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/COMVCE-03-06-2008-00.htm

Press Release: 3rd Jun 2008, Tuesday, 20th Jeth (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )

Community Alert

Sikh Community Support Requested at Sentencing Hearing of Hate Crime Case


Queens, NY: Umair Ahmed, who forcibly cut his Sikh classmate's hair, is to be sentenced on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at Queens Criminal Court. The crime in question occurred on May 24, 2007, after a lengthy argument between the victim and Ahmed had caused tension to escalate between the two. Previously, Ahmed threatened to beat up the Sikh student, causing the latter to take an alternative route back home. However, on the day of the assault, Ahmed confronted the victim and stated his intentions to cut the Sikh student's hair. Despite the victim's explanations on the significance of his unshorn hair and how it was an article of faith he could not remove, Ahmed proceeded to threaten to injure the Sikh student with a ring and a pair of scissors. Eventually, the victim assented to being led to a bathroom out of fear for his physical safety and Ahmed proceeded to forcibly cut his classmate's hair.

After approximately six days on trial, Ahmed was convicted of menacing in the second degree as a hate crime, coercion in the second degree as a hate crime, harassment, and possession of a deadly weapon. Depending on whether or not Ahmed is treated as a youthful offender or as an adult, he could face up to four years in prison. "It is very commendable that the jury understood the gravity of a Sikh's hair being forcibly cut. Sikhs keep their hair unshorn as an article of faith, thereby integral to the practice of their faith," commented Jaspreet Singh, UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney. "Ahmed's attack was clearly planned after careful consideration of what unshorn hair meant to the victim, and as such is incontrovertibly a hate crime."

This attack was both on the Sikh student and on the Sikh identity, and therefore, on behalf of the entire Sikh community, UNITED SIKHS and the victim's family request that members of the Sikh community be present at the sentencing hearing to offer support to the victim; it is critical that the sentencing reflects the gravity of the offense to the Sikh community. The Queens Criminal Court is located at 125-01 Queens Blvd. near Hoover Avenue & 82nd Avenue. UNITED SIKHS thanks you for your time and support, and we hope to see you there. Please call UNITED SIKHS at 646-315-3909 if you plan to be in attendance.

For more information about the case, please read: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-07-03-2008-00.htm.

Issued by

Baljit Kaur
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
Email: law@unitedsikhs.org
1 646 315 3909

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