The day after the stabbing of a Santa Clara grandfather left South Bay Sikhs reeling, prosecutors are weighing hate crime and attempted murder charges against his neighbor, who apparently believed the man belonged to the Taliban.Tags: Sikh, stabbing, hate crime, attempted murder, Iqbal Singh, Santa Clara.
Iqbal Singh, 40, was waiting in his carport with his 2-year-old granddaughter around 10:50 a.m. Sunday when the suspect approached him and stabbed him in the neck with a steak knife, Santa Clara police Sgt. Kurt Clarke said.
Singh was still in the hospital Monday with serious injuries. The girl was unhurt.
``It's terrifying,'' his brother-in-law, Gurmeet Singh, said. ``Here he is standing outside of his home, and he is attacked.''
That the stabbing might have been driven by hate doesn't surprise Gurmeet Singh.
``We Sikhs are the most targeted for hate crimes,'' he said. ``People see us, and they don't understand who we are. They associate us with terrorists.''
Santa Clara police arrested Everett Thompson, 20, of Santa Clara, later Sunday, Clarke said. He was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and a hate crime, Clarke said.
Investigators are trying to determine why Thompson allegedly attacked Singh.
There are indications that Thompson, who may suffer from mental illness, believed Singh was a member of the Taliban, officials said Monday. Singh is not.
The Taliban is a Sunni Islamist movement based in Afghanistan. Sikhism is an unrelated religion and culture founded in the Indian state of Punjab.
``We send our prayers not just to Mr. Singh and his family, but to the entire Sikh community,'' said Jay Boyarsky, the supervising deputy district attorney who oversees hate-crime prosecutions in Santa Clara County.
Boyarsky, who praised the Santa Clara Police Department for its ongoing investigation, added: ``Sadly, this is not the first time that a person has wrongfully targeted a Sikh person on the basis of physical appearance.''
The prosecutor cited a case shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, in which two men assaulted a Sikh and set his ice cream truck on fire.
When Singh was attacked, he was waiting for the rest of the family to come down to the carport from their upstairs apartment on Agate Drive. They were on their way to worship services at San Jose Gurdwara Sahib, Gurmeet Singh said.
Iqbal Singh, he said, wears both a turban and a beard. Those are two symbols of Sikh culture that many don't understand, said Gursharan Singh, a Milpitas-based reporter for the magazine Punjab Today who is not related to the victim.
Different cultures use turbans to signify different things; for some it is a sign of religious learning, and for others it is part of cultural dress.
For Sikhs, Gursharan Singh said, the turban is not as much religious as it is cultural.
The religion, like others, promotes peace and understanding.
``We are simply trying to peacefully live, earn a living and practice our religion,'' Gurmeet Singh said. ``This hate is driven by ignorance.'' [Link]
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