Plan to Throw the Books at Violence

April 23, 2007

Author: Amy Zimmer

Source: Metro New York

MANHATTAN. Rajinder Singh Khalsa is tired of the insults — or worse — hurtled at him on the street because he wears a turban. Khalsa, who is Sikh, was beaten in Richmond Hill three years ago by five men when he intervened on behalf of a fellow Sikh they were mocking.

Khalsa tried to explain the significance of their turbans to the men, who told him to “get out of this country,” before they broke his nose and fractured his eye socket.

Now, he is hoping a new library project launched recently by the nonprofit Sikh Coalition could combat bias with education. The project aims to place a packages of 10 books and two DVDs in every library in North America.

“I think if people will know more about our culture, then they will not be going to attack us,” Khalsa said. “Because of the turban, they think you’re a Taliban or you’re Bin Laden. They think we’re Iranian, but we come from Northern India. ... This is the fifth largest religion in the world.”

Khalsa’s attackers were eventually found guilty of a hate crime, receiving sentences ranging from five days to two years in state prison. But Khalsa said people in his community continue to be victims of hate crimes.