Preliminary results of a study released today by the Sikh Coalition show that over 58 percent of Sikh students in New York City public schools have been the victims of name-calling, threats or physical abuse due to their religion. The report also found that more than three quarters (77.5 percent) of male Sikh students who live in Queens have been subjected to teasing or harassment, while 18.9 percent of Sikhs have been told they look like terrorists by other students. Many who have been harassed also said that their school administrators failed to provide any assistance following complaints. The report, entitled “Hatred in the Hallways,” was not scheduled for publication until September. However, coalition workers decided to release their preliminary numbers early in light of a much-publicized bias incident involving the attack of a Sikh student in his school bathroom.
Less than two weeks ago, a 17 year-old Pakistani student allegedly forced Vacher Harpal, his 15-year-old Sikh classmate, into a bathroom at his Queens school, removed his turban and chopped his waist-length hair to his neck. According to Sikh law, men are required to keep their hair unshorn, making the forced haircut especially offensive. The perpetrator was arraigned on hate crime charges and now faces prison time. Amardeep Singh, the executive director of the coalition, said that Harpal had complained about harassment by other students on five separate occasions before the incident, but administrators had done little to intervene. “That is not acceptable. That is not what New York is about,” Singh said. Of course he’s right. We all know New York is about soulless consumerism, gross income inequalities that rival undeveloped African nations and the exploits of socialites—definitlely not racist, scissor-wielding school children. [Link]
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