Shooting of Sikh man in Seattle area spurs investigations

The Seattle area is considered a multicultural hub, but over the weekend a Sikh man was shot in what appears to be a hate crime, according to multiple news outlets.

The shooter, who has not yet been identified, is said to have yelled “Go back to your own country” before shooting Deep Rai, who is Indian-born, and a U.S. National.

According to an article from the Seattle Times, Sikh organizations sought a hate crime investigation because it appears these incidents are on the rise:

“Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, said he had been told the victim was released from the hospital.

‘He is just very shaken up, both him and his family,’ Singh said. ‘We’re all kind of at a loss in terms of what’s going on right now, this is just bringing it home. The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone.’

In a statement Saturday, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based civil rights group, asked local and federal authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.

Singh said Puget Sound-area Sikh men in particular have reported a rise in verbal abuse and uncomfortable encounters recently, “a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past.’

To Singh, the number of incidents targeting members of the religion, which has its roots in the Punjab region of South Asia, recalls the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

‘But at that time, it felt like the [presidential] administration was actively working to allay those fears,” he said. “Now, it’s a very different dimension.’

Sikh Coalition Interim Program Manager Rajdeep Singh, in calling for the hate crime investigation, said in a statement: “While we appreciate the efforts of state and local officials to respond to attacks like this, we need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority. Tone matters in our political discourse, because this a matter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate.”

The attack happened after Jewish schools and community centers were the targets of more than 100 bomb threats, Jewish cemeteries across the country saw vandalism and after a shooting in Kansas where two Indian-born men and another man defending the two were shot.

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