- The Sikh Coalition said Mohamed Hassanain yelled at Singh and told him to “go back to your country,” and called him “turbaned people” in a derogatory manner while repeatedly punching and shoving him.”
A suspect who allegedly attacked a Sikh taxi driver at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport earlier this month has been arrested by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD), the Sikh Coalition has announced. The coalition, which has been retained to provide free legal guidance to the driver, identified the suspect as Mohamed Hassanain. He is being charged with Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, Assault in the Third Degree, and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree. He was arraigned on Jan. 15.
The taxi driver is identified only as “Mr. Singh” to preserve his anonymity.
According to the coalition, Hassanain yelled at Singh and told him to “go back to your country.” He also called Singh “turbaned people” in a derogatory manner while repeatedly punching and shoving him.”
In a statement given to the coalition, Singh thanked the law enforcement, the coalition, and the community members who offered their strength in this difficult time. “No one should experience what I did, but if they do, I hope they receive the same overwhelming amount of support and quick, professional action by the authorities in response.”
Amrith Kaur Aakre, legal director of The Sikh Coalition said the organization is “grateful to the PAPD and the Queens District Attorney’s Office for their prompt action on this case, and for recognizing that the attack on Mr. Singh included clear anti-Sikh bias.” She said the “case underscores the importance of sharing all of the details of these kinds of attacks with law enforcement. Holding perpetrators accountable for both their actions and their hateful motivations is the clearest way to show that bigotry, and the violence that it fuels, have no place in our communities.”
The attack on Singh came to light from a video posted on Twitter by Sikh American organizer Navjot Pal Kaur. “This video was taken by a bystander at John F. Kennedy International Airport,” Kaur tweeted on Jan. 4. “I do not own the rights to this video. But I just wanted to highlight the fact that hatred continues to remain in our society and unfortunately I’ve seen Sikh cab drivers get assaulted again and again.”
The video went viral and the attack was condemned on Twitter by several Sikh American community members and Sikh organizations, as well as the State Department, Consulate General of India in New York.