Sikh Traveler Filmed, Mocked, Labeled “Bin Laden”

UNITED SIKHS received an email from 20-year-old Prabneet Kaur, daughter of elderly Sikh man and California resident Darshan Singh. She had just been made aware that a video of her father sleeping on a JetBlue recorded by the man sitting next to him was circulating on the internet. The video is titled Would You Feel Safe? and its description says flying with bin laden.

Mr. Singh recalls his Jetblue flight from New York to California in November as unremarkable. He didn’t exchange words with the man sitting next to him, and was surprised when he saw the video of himself online, which is currently sitting at over 62,000 views and gaining more every minute.

This act of ignorance is the latest in a series of anti-Sikh hostility in the days following the horrific shooting in San Bernardino, California on December 2nd. On December 6th, a Sikh Gurudwara (house of worship), was vandalized with anti-ISIS graffiti. On the same day, four Sikh men were stopped from entering a football game because of their turbans. Their car was searched for bombs.

Sikh Americans have long been the target of racially motivated violence and discrimination in the United States. Although the majority of anti-Sikh hostility and hate crimes occurred post 9/11, Sikhs continue to be the target of racially motivated violence. On March 5, 2013, a Sikh-American owned convenience store was set on fire in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This incident occurred less than a month after a Florida Sikh was shot while driving. On February 23, 2013, Mr. Kanwaljit Singh was traveling home with his 13-year-old son when individuals in a black truck fired six shots at his car. In 2014, UNITED SIKHS advocated on behalf of a Sikh man who was called a racial slur and spit on when the incident was not recognized as a hate crime. To learn more about anti-Sikh hate-crimes, read our Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Report.

“Incidents like this are shocking. No one, Sikh, Muslim, or otherwise should be afraid to travel. These types of incidents only weaken the fabric of our nation. It is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of acts of ignorance around them, and to report them when they see them. Only then can we unify ourselves against hate, ignorance, and discrimination.” said Jaspreet Kaur, staff Attorney, UNITED SIKHS.

At UNITED SIKHS, we are working to have the video removed, report the incident to the appropriate authorities, and raise awareness of such ignorance.

During these times, it is crucial that the Sikh and other communities often victim to this form of aggression remain vigilant. If you are victim to discrimination, please contact us at law-global@unitedsikhs.org . Please support our fight for global human and civil rights and donate.

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