UnitedSikhs

HAIR TOMMORROW
SHORN SIKH VOWS HE'LL GROW IT BACK
GEORGETT ROBERTS
THE NEWYORK POST
May 28, 2007
 
NEW YORK

May 28, 2007 -- "I will grow my hair again."

That was the vow yesterday of a Sikh teen whose hair was forcibly cut by other students in a high-school bathroom, in what's been deemed a religiously motivated hate crime.

"I have faith in my religion," the 15-year-old told The Post at his Elmhurst, Queens, home. "I am proud to be a Sikh."

The boy, whose name is being withheld at the family's request, said he is still "in a state of shock" over Thursday's attack in the bathroom in Newtown HS.

He said he plans to return to school tomorrow.

A fellow student, Ahmed Umair, 17, was arrested and charged with unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment - all as hate crimes.

After initially confessing to the attack, Umair changed his tune and said the victim cut his own hair.

"I didn't force you or do anything to you," he told cops, addressing the victim.

At his Friday arraignment, Umair was freed on $5,000 bail. He did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse with his parents, keeping his head up and staring into a Post photographer's lens.

He could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

At the victim's home yesterday, the boy's visibly shaken mother trembled as she spoke about her faith in the justice system.

"The system is good," she said. "I trust the law very much."

Tejinder Singh, a lawyer for United Sikh - which is advising the family - said the boy's father has been out of the country and is "very concerned about his child's safety and security."

Regarding a lawsuit, Singh said, "We're going to sit with the family and decide what to do."

Singh said he'd like to see Umair "educated about our religion."

"It's an insult and a shame to remove a Sikh's turban . . . and he should be punished for what he did," Singh said.

The family acknowledged that the two boys knew each other before the incident but said they are two years apart in school and were not friends.

Mankanwal Singh, the director of United Sikhs, released a statement earlier in the day that disputed Umair's claims that the teen cut his own hair.

"There was a witness in the bathroom who saw what happened and who directly contradicts the defendant Mr. Umair's claim in court that the hair was cut by the victim himself," Singh said.

"We're going to find out whether the defendant is going to be in school with him," Tejinder Singh said "We will deal with it then to ensure safety is guaranteed by the school."

 
Article by Courtesy of http://www.newyorkpost.com
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