American Turban

New York’s South Asian taxi drivers

(source: msn.com)

(source: msn.com)

South Asian cabbies have told me that they’ve been spat upon, cursed at, hit, punched and, in one case, even stabbed.

One Sikh driver once joked to me that he was called “Arab,” “Muslim” and “terrorist” so often that he was considering converting! Of course, he was kidding, but his comment underscored the absurdity of someone mistaking a Sikh for a Muslim, as these two groups have historically been bitter enemies in Northern India.

…However, on the other side of the race/ethnic ledger, South Asian cabbies have themselves been accused of practicing racism and discrimination themselves — that is, they tend not to pick up black and Hispanic passengers, particularly young men.

— Palash R. Ghosh writes in the International Business Times about New York’s South Asian taxi drivers and their experiences with racism.

I would take issue with the assertion that Sikhs and Muslims have “historically been bitter enemies”. Certainly, on the political front, Sikhs suffered oppression under the Muslim rulers of India, but some of the Sikhs’ closest allies in history have also been Muslims, and many were close associates of the Sikh Gurus. We must also not forget that the Guru Granth Sahib, the scriptures of the Sikhs, includes writings from Muslim and Hindu saints in addition to those of the Gurus.

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