Yasmin Assemi, writing for the Stockton Record (CA), notes that "Vandals this week sprayed several swastikas and racial epithets on property that includes a Sikh temple" in Lodi, California.
"The vandalism included remarks such as 'killers' and 'white power' along with other racial epithets directed at Muslims of Middle Eastern origin."
The owner of the land, Nirmal Samra, remarked that he "has never before experienced prejudice in his 30 years living in Lodi." Samra explained what has become painfully clear to many Sikhs -- that Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims "because they wear turbans."
The fear of such misdirected hate inspired the Sikh community in 2001 to increase its participation in many community events in hopes of educating the public about the two different religions.
Hate crimes targeting American Sikhs spiked shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report released in July by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
But reported crimes against people of Middle Eastern descent dropped 35 percent in California from 2003 to 2004, according to the report, "Hate Crime in California 2004."
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