NEW YORK: A New York Sikh, who became one of the worst sufferers of hate crimes in post-9/11 America, says Sikhs should not remove hate graffiti sprayed on a California gurdwara by miscreants this week.
Miscreants vandalized the Sikh Gurdwara of Riverside by spraying the words `TERRORIST’ and `TERRISH’ on its boundary walls on Monday night.
“No, the Sikhs should not remove the word TERRORIST sprayed on the walls of gurdwara. Instead, they said add the word `NOT’ next to the word `TERRORIST’. And just below that, they should write: SIKHS ARE PEACEFUL,’’ says Rajinder Singh Bammi who in July 2004 suffered multiple broken bones and facial fractures when he was attacked by five white people in one of the worst racial attacks against the Sikhs in New York.
“Then write this slogan on the vandalized walls: DON’T HATE, EDUCATE. Then add these words: PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT, THEY SHOULD EDUCATE THEMSELVES ABOUT OTHER CULTURES,’’ he adds.
“Because all the people passing by will read these words and then understand who the Sikhs are. All the attacks against the Sikhs are happening because of ignorance. Since people won’t educate themselves, we need to educate them about who we are. So I suggest that this hate graffiti sprayed on the California gurdwara should be protected and used as an education tool to tell Americans about Sikhism,’’ explains 63-year-old Bammi.
Bammi, who was mocked by his attackers nine years ago about his turban before being pounced upon and beaten savagely, says the incident didn’t make him angry.
“I tried to explain to people through the media why I was attacked. It is just plain ignorance,’’ says Bammi whose case made global headlines as he was featured by all major TV networks, the New York Times, the New Yorkers and other global media networks. His attackers were given jail terms and asked to do community service with the Sikhs.
But he blames the Sikhs for the prevailing ignorance about them as they have not reached out to other people.
“Sikhs in the US should have used the langar (free community meals) to serve others. But now they serve themselves. The Guru’s mission of starting the langar was to serve the hungry. But now what is happening is the very opposite of it. The Sikhs make the langar, the Sikhs serve the langar and the Sikhs eat the langar. If we serve the langar to other people, the needy people, they will understand who the Sikhs are,’’ says Bammi who has spoken about the message of his religion at various fora, including the UN.