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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sikhs hold candlelight vigil for cabbie beaten in hate crime

Simranjeet Singh tried not to talk about the sadness he felt learning that his dad had been hospitalized by a man police say was intoxicated and committed what is being called a hate crime in a freeway assault Saturday.

Singh stuck to brief comments Wednesday night when pressed in front of TV cameras. The 17-year-old's hands fidgeted as he stood in front of more than 300 members of the local Sikh community who had gathered for a candlelight vigil, thanking them for their support.

His dad, taxicab driver Sukhvir Singh, was allegedly called a terrorist during an attack that left bite marks, a concussion and hair ripped from his scalp.

"Our religion teaches us to forgive," Simranjeet Singh said.

Not everybody who prayed for the taxi driver Wednesday night at Gurdwara Singh Sabha of Washington knew the man, who police say had been beaten after picking up a man kicked out of Saturday's Apple Cup.

But many knew the fear they say he felt.

Earlier this month, Yellow Cab driver Baltej Singh, who is not related to the victim, said a man began assaulting him while driving on state Route 520.

There have been several nights when he won't press customers for payment because they've been threatening or unstable, he said, and last weekend, a man refused to pay a fellow cabdriver after threatening him at gunpoint.

Racial slurs are spewed by customers each weekend, Baltej Singh added, and physical attacks aren't uncommon.

"This time," he said at the vigil, "it was the worst." [Link]

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