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North Carolina Sikhs wake up to ‘9-11 Go Home’

September 17
01:37 2011

NEW YORK: In a rude shock to the Sikh community in North Carolina, a Sikh owned convenience store was damaged Sept 7, in a suspected case of hate related arson.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the Sikh owned State Line Grocery convenience store was badly damaged in an early morning fire, which is under investigation as a potential hate crime specifically due to the graffiti that was spray painted on the walls of the convenience store stating, “9-11 Go Home”.

The convenience store, reportedly owned by a Sikh family, is located three miles south of Hayesville, N.C., in Clay County, on State Highway 69 near the Georgia border. It was closed at the time of the fire.

Arvinder Singh, who operates the store and lives nearby, was not injured.

It is the latest in a string of violent crimes, including murders, where the victims are Sikhs – apparently mistaken as Muslims by the hate crime perpetrators.

Clay County Sheriff Vic Davis told Hatewatch, “There’s a possibility” the arson fire was a hate crime. “What leads us to believe it may be a hate crime is what’s written on the side of the building,” the sheriff said. “These are foreigners that run that place, you know.”

The sheriff said two of his deputies responded to the fire and used fire extinguishers to help douse the flames. It was apparent to them, the sheriff told Hatewatch, that a flammable liquid had been used. “We’ve turned the investigation over to the arson investigator with the SBI [State Bureau of Investigation],” he said.

The nature of the crime and associated language seems to suggest that this was religiously/ racially motivated, the Sikh advocacy group United Sikhs said in a statement. “The backlash against the Muslim/ Arab community has had a collateral impact on the Sikh community for the last 10 years because of a Sikh’s distinctive identity (turban and uncut hair). This reality has become especially painful in the last year,” it said.

United Sikhs Directors and sevadaars in North Carolina have actively been following the case and have been in contact with the US Attorney Anne Tompkins and her office (Western District of North Carolina) and the FBI Charlotte field office, and the matter is under investigation. The Sikh group has also reached out to Gurudwaras in the North Carolina to step up awareness, assist the victimized family if requested, and mobilize resources in case of any further tragic events.

India Post News Service

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