Long Island Rail Incident Encapsulates Post 9/11 Experience for Sikh American

March 3, 2003

Source: Newsday


On March 3, 2003 Newsday reported that "standing with five or six riders on the Long Island Rail Road some nights ago, Gurpreet Singh noticed a man staring at him. 'I felt very uncomfortable,' the 24-year-old technology consultant said. 'I'm a very friendly and social guy. I walked over and said, 'Hello.' He replied by saying, 'Where you getting off?' I said, 'Syosset.' He said, 'Good...' The man told Singh, 'I want you off this train!' Singh walked back to the other end... 'Get off the train!' the man shouted... Now another man got up and offered Singh the seat next to his. 'He won't bother you here,' said the stranger... 'Don't bother him,' the stranger said. 'Stay away...' 'Don't you know what they did to us?' the man... said angrily. 'How could you defend them?' 'You don't even know that he's a Muslim,' the stranger shot back... Singh is neither Arab nor Muslim. He is a baptized Sikh who was born in Afghanistan and raised in Flushing. He is a graduate of New York University... Since 9/11, a pall of suspicion has been cast over Arabs, Muslims and even people from South Asia, such as Indians and Pakistanis, who often are mistaken for Arabs. There have been assaults and murders. Hundreds of discrimination cases against employers have been filed."