Oak Creek to Chapel Hill: Hate Crime Stories Shared With Congress

Oak Creek to Chapel Hill: Hate Crime Stories Shared With Congress

October 23, 2015 (Washington, DC) – On Thursday, October 22nd, the Sikh Coalition and Muslim Advocates co-hosted a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, which featured victims of hate violence speaking first hand about the impact that hate has had on their lives and communities.

The briefing featured testimony by Raghuvinder Singh, whose father, Baba Punjab Singh, remains in a semi-coma after the mass shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara on August 5, 2012. Mohammad Abu-Salha and Farris Barakat, who tragically lost three family members, Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina shooting on February 10, 2015 also shared their gripping stories to a packed room of Hill staff.

The briefing, which was over-capacity, comes during a time of increased bigoted political rhetoric aimed at all minority communities and an uptick in hate crimes, and bias related incidents targeting Sikhs and Muslims across the United States. Last month, Inderjit Singh Mukker, a 53-year-old Sikh father, was assaulted in a Chicago suburb. His attacker yelled, “Terrorist…Go back to your country.”

“Hate is alive and well in America,” said Arjun Singh, Director of Law & Policy of the Sikh Coalition. “As we heard today, hate crimes don’t just terrorize individuals, they terrorize entire communities. We’re not safe in our homes, our houses of worship or even our cars. We must continue to raise this critical issue with Congress, to make sure that hate crimes and the underlying problems that come with them, are fully understood and addressed.”

Raghuvinder Singh’s moving testimony featured his father’s story of resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. “Today, my father is in a semi-comatose state, unable to move or speak. He can only communicate by blinking his eyes – twice for “yes” and once for “no.” Although three years have gone by, my family will never forget that day in August when everything changed.” Mr. Singh continued, “Despite this, my father has not lost his profound capacity for embracing love. When I ask if he is living in Chardi Kala – love and relentless optimism even in suffering – he blinks twice – yes.”

If you have been subject to threats or violence because of your identity, please reach out to the Sikh Coalition at 212-655-3095 or email legal@sikhcoalition.org for assistance. For more information on hate crimes law and how to report hate crimes, please review our Know Your Rights document. The Sikh Coalition is in regular contact with federal authorities to bring attention to our community’s needs.

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