Sikh American Shot in His Driveway by White Gunman Shouting 'Go Back to Your Own Country!'

Sikhs are not Muslim, but they are often targeted in Islamophobic hate crimes.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A Sikh man in Kent, Washington was shot in his driveway by a white gunman who reportedly said, "Go back to your own country!" before attacking him.

The 39-year-old victim said he had been working on his car outside his house in the Seattle suburb when a stranger walked up to him, began harrassing him with racist comments, and then shot him in the arm.

Police are looking for the gunman, the Seattle Times reported, and are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.

The victim, who was not named in local media reports, was released from the hospital in stable condition.

This shooting comes just days after a similar hate crime in Kansas, where a white gunman shot two Indian-American engineers. The gunman, who apparently believed the men were "Middle Eastern," spewed racial slurs and shouted "Get out of my country!"

A leader in a local Sikh community told the Seattle Times, "We're all kind of at a loss in terms of what's going on right now; this is just bringing it home. The climate of hate that has been created doesn't distinguish between anyone." He added that there has been a recent increase in racism and xenophobia reminiscent of that following the 9/11 attacks.

Simran Jeet Singh, an assistant professor of religion at Trinity University and a prominent civil rights activist, connected the shooting to the spread of extreme anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry, which has been fueled by the election of President Donald Trump.

"The cost of xenophobic rhetoric? Another brown man shot in a hate crime. This time, a Sikh brother in Washington," Singh wrote on Twitter.

The religion of many Sikh men is easily identifiable because they wear turbans. Some people who are unfamiliar with the religion falsely assume they are Muslim.

The U.S. has seen a string of attacks on Sikhs in recent years.

"The greatest threat facing Americans today is white violent extremists," warned Arjun Sethi‏, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown and Vanderbilt universities and a civil rights activist. "You saw this again last night in Kent, WA where a Sikh man was shot."

Simran Jeet Singh added, "Sadly, the question for the Sikh community has not been if we are targets of hate, but instead, when. A Sikh man being shot? Inevitable."

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet's Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

 

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