The Huffington Post reports that a Sikh professor at Columbia University was attacked when walking along 110 Street and Lenox Avenue in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood Saturday night around 8:15. Dr. Prabhjot Singh is a professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University — and he was attacked by several suspects who screamed “Get Osama!” and “terrorist” at him, before knocking him down and punching him in the face. Singh is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries.
In the wake of this attack on Dr. Singh, Simran Jeet Singh has also written about visiting his colleague and friend in the hospital last night:
Last night, I received the kind of phone call that everyone dreads: a close friend was hurt, and on his way to the hospital. But the news got worse, as I learned that my friend, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a young Sikh American professor at Columbia University, had been brutally attacked on a public street, the victim of a violent hate crime. My brother and I immediately jumped in a taxi and rushed to the hospital, where we finally saw Prabhjot being wheeled in, bloody and bruised, his face swollen from a fractured jaw. He couldn’t speak because many of his teeth had been displaced, but he waved limply to let us know that he was okay.
Last year, both co-wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about the necessity of gathering information about hate crimes against Sikhs in America. An important takeaway from that essay:
The legacy of anti-Sikh violence and its contemporary prevalence make it painfully obvious that anti-Sikh violence is often purposeful and targeted. The government must begin tracking and counting anti-Sikh hate crimes, just as it must continue to vigorously combat bias and discrimination against all Americans, including Muslims. We must do away with a flawed and incomplete assumption of “mistaken identity” regarding Sikhs; until we do, we will all be the ones who are mistaken.
This episode, sadly, seems endemic of a significant uptick of hate crimes against brown people in the Greater New York area. Last year, a 31 year-old Queens woman pushed an Indian man into an oncoming train, blaming him for 9/11 attacks. At a larger glance, violence targeting Sikhs has been on the rise throughout the nation as a whole. None of this is likely helped by the fact that the NYPD has been outed for its well-documented culture of Islamophobia — which unfortunately doesn’t help stem the very culture of xenophobia setting the stage for crimes against South Asians.