This was not a case of boys will be boys. The student who assaulted Sikh student Jagmohan Singh Premi, 18, last week at Richmond Hill High School in Queens was not playing games.
Premi's attacker wasn't just horsing around. He punched him in the face while holding a key between his knuckles, inflicting an orbital fracture and bruising. Sikhs have no doubt it was a hate crime. Certainly, it was no child's play.
"I am sad this is happening in America; I want to go to school to learn," said Premi, a shy, serious young man who wears the turban his religion prescribes for all Sikh men. The physical assault came after the attacker tried to rip off Premi's turban while he was sitting in class and, even more egregious, with the teacher in the room.
According to Amardeep Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition, the harassment did not begin last week.
"Jagmohan's tormentor has a long, documented history of harassing him in school, making fun of his patka [turban] and beard, and attempting to pull off his patka," Singh said.
Actually, the attacker had been suspended this year for trying to remove the Sikh teen's turban. But after he came back to school, the harassment continued unabated.
On July 16, 2007, the Sikh Coalition, an organization born after 9/11 to counter discrimination and bigotry, raised the issue of anti-Sikh harassment at Richmond Hill High School in a meeting with schools Chancellor Joel Klein. [Link]
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