NEW YORK: An American man is facing hate crime charges for allegedly punching in the face a 63-year-old Sikh, whom he called an "Arab", and breaking his jaw and nose before shouting racial slurs outside a gurudwara here.
David C Wood, 36, who attacked Jabeet Chadha on January 14 faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Wood was arraigned this week on charges of second-degree assault as a hate crime, second and third-degree assault and second-degree aggravated harassment.
He was ordered held on USD10,000 bail and will return to court January 30.
Wood allegedly told Chadha "Arab, go back to your country" when he was about to enter the gurudwara in New Hyde Park, Queens District Attorney (DA) Richard Brown said.
Wood then allegedly told Chadha "you don't listen" and punched him in the face, the DA said.
Chadha's nose and jaw were broken in the attack and he is on a liquid diet due to his injuries. He will need surgery on his nose and will have a medical consultation on what to do about his jaw after the swelling goes down, Brown was quoted as saying by Times Ledger.
"Crimes motivated by bias -- particularly those involving violence --will never be tolerated in this county," the DA said in a statement. "When they do regrettably occur, they will be vigorously prosecuted and those involved will be severely punished."
Sikhs have been facing hate crimes throughout the country after the 9/11 attack as people mistake their turbans for a Muslim headdress.
"Sikhs are targeted because of our appearance. There's a lot of ignorance, anger and hate," said Jaspreet Singh, a staff attorney for rights group United Sikhs.
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