Sikhs, often mistaken for being Muslim, are being targeted more and more by people who are unaware of the distinction between these religious groups.
Hate crimes are once again the topic of discussion in Australia and other places around the world as a new wave of anti-Islam has been unleashed following recent terror attacks and an increasing recognition of terror groups as a threat. However, it is not just Muslims who are victims to these physical and verbal assaults.
Confusion and Criticism
The phenomenon of Sikhs being targeted as Muslim extremists has been followed in depth since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. In the days and months following the attacks, several Sikhs were assaulted and even killed by citizens who did not care to make the distinction between the religions.
After all, Sikhism is a completely different religion that was founded during the 15th century and is monotheistic, worshipping an entirely different deity than Islam. However, most experts tend to agree that the beard that is worn by Sikhs and the turban that they wear as part of their faith have caused them to be conflated with Muslims.
A Spike Of Hatred In Australia
Since the terror alert has been raised to high as a reaction to the siege in Sydney, the government and law enforcement have seen a spike in the number of violent attacks against Sikhs. Although Sikh adherents have a population that is 72,000 and growing within the nation, they are still continually labeled as Muslim terrorists.
Aside from more common verbal outbursts which tell the Sikhs to “go back to where they came from” and being called terrorists, there have been incidents in schools across the nation that have not been properly addressed.
One notable example was that of Harsukh Singh, a boy in an Australian school who recently uploaded a video that showed his classmates repeatedly calling him a terrorist. Although it was in a school setting and he complains that the students are being racist towards him to the camera, there does not appear to be an authority figure present to reprimand the other students.
This Sikh boy stood up to bullies on the bus after they called him "terrorist". He filmed the abuse & it went viral http://t.co/2NMzCjENw0
— BBC Trending (@BBCtrending) March 3, 2015
With this level of hatred so pervasive in Australia, some Sikhs are taking a more active approach towards remedying it. Professor Ken Rigby, a bullying authority, has said that the best way to put an end to this type of bullying is to educate students, teachers, parents, and other citizens about the harm that they are inflicting. Not only do they need to understand the differences between Sikhs and Muslims, but that not all Muslims are responsible for the trouble caused by a small minority of them.