The Indian America Bar Association of Chicago (IABA), Asian America Bar Association Chicago (AABA) and South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA North America) condemn the attack on Mr. Inderjit Singh Mukker, a United States Citizen and Sikh American, on September 8 in Darien, a suburb of Chicago. To be targeted based on your appearance, religion, race or national origin is untenable. To be pursued, hunted down and assaulted while engaged in one’s daily life is unimaginable. To be told to go home while standing with both feet solidly in your own country is intolerable. And to attempt to avoid confrontation and choose peace but then be physically and violently attacked is completely deplorable.
We commend the authorities for their quick response in apprehending the suspect and for their decision to investigate this violent attack as a hate crime.
Since 9/11 the Sikh community has been repeatedly targeted for hate crimes. For example, on Sept. 15, 2001, four days after 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot and killed outside his gas station in Arizona. The gunman mistook the 49-year-old Sikh, an immigrant from India, for an Arab, and said he killed Sodhie in retaliation for the attacks. In 2012, a gunman with Neo-Nazi ties shot and killed six people in a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. In August 2014, Sandeep Singh, a Sikh man in New York City, was run over and dragged 30 feet after being called a “terrorist.”
A 2009 report from the Sikh Coalition noted that 41 percent of Sikhs surveyed in New York City had been called derogatory names, such as “Osama bin Laden” or “terrorist.” The same report noted that 9 percent of Sikh adults have been physically assaulted since 9/11 because of their religious identity and 60 percent of turbaned Sikh youth had experienced verbal and physical assaults in their schools.
Until we begin to identify these attacks as hate crimes, our ability to practice our faith, to live peacefully and build a life for our families or even, to make a quick trip to the grocery store, will continue to be compromised. Unless we act now to break this pattern of hate and violence, the freedoms we associate with America will no longer exist and erode the very values that are the basis for this country.
The Sikh Coalition is providing Mr. Mukker’s legal representation. Legal Director Harsimran Kaur, stated “While we relentlessly work to protect Mr. Mukker’s rights and work hard to ensure that hate crime charges are pursued in this case, we urge all Americans to reach out to their neighbors to build bridges of understanding. It is through recognizing our collective humanity that we can work together to end hate.”
IABA-Chicago is a professional bar association founded to represent the interests of South Asian American legal professionals in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Learn more at www.iabachicago.org.
SABA North America (formerly NASABA/North American South Asian Bar Association) is a voluntary bar organization serving as the umbrella organization to 26 chapters in the United States and Canada. SABA North America is a recognized forum for professional growth and advancement for South Asian attorneys in North America and seeks to protect the rights and liberties of the South Asian community across the continent. Learn more at www.sabanorthamerica.com.
AABA Chicago is a professional bar association with the mission of serving not only the interests of Asian American legal professionals, but also the larger Asian American community in which its members live. Learn more at aabachicago.org.
Vice President of Public Relations
Indian-American Bar Association of Chicago
Vice President of Public Relations
South Asian Bar Association of North America
Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago