American Turban

Let’s call it what it is: “Sikhophobia”

A private Sikh school in Brampton, Ontario, Canada was vandalized with racist graffiti on Monday. (source: The Toronto Star)

A private Sikh school in Brampton, Ontario, Canada was vandalized with racist graffiti on Monday. (source: The Toronto Star)

A number of different American communities have been impacted by Islamophobia, and practitioners of the Sikh religion make up one of the most adversely affected minority groups. The distinctive physical appearance of typical Sikh males in particular — brown skin, turban, beard — correlates with the stereotypical images of terrorists projected in western media. Scholars have recently described this perceived relationship as a racialization of religious identity. This process has led to a conflation of Sikhs and Muslims, and therefore, has produced a corollary to Islamophobia — Sikhophobia.

— Simran Jeet Singh, on the Huffington Post, discusses the rise of “Sikhophobia” particularly after 9/11.

Sikhs have indeed faced a more intense and focus level bigotry since the attacks in September 11, 2001. However, the discrimination that Sikhs have faced in this country has occurred since our first arrivals over a century ago.  The ill-attention that Sikhs have received after the 9/11 attacks became much more acute.

We also don’t need to look very far back in time to identify hate crimes or suspected hate crimes against Sikhs, for they are still occurring today. In the recent span of over a year:

Simran Jeet’s use of the term “Sikhophobia” is appropriate, and one can take the term further. Whether the perpetrators of hate crimes invoke 9/11, or if they spray swastikas (a historic anti-Semitic act against Jews) on our buildings, Sikhs are intended targets by those who wish to do harm solely because of our appearance.

These attacks on Sikhs are also not only an American phenomenon.  Yesterday, news broke of bigotry-inspired vandalism at a Sikh-oriented private school in Canada.  This attack occurred in a city with a large population of Sikhs and where Sikhs are a much more known community. Yet, this school became a target, and likely not as a result of Islamophobia but more specific to Sikhs.

The FBI categorizes attacks on Sikhs as Islamophobic-motivated crimes, while at the same time, a common defense by Sikhs is to dissociate ourselves from Islam in the public eye. However, neither perspective can directly nor appropriately address the bigotry that Sikhs have faced. Bigotry is a behavior that impacts many communities, and it is important to recognize that Sikhs are themselves targets as well. Only with this understanding can we properly begin to address the issue.

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2 comments

  1. Sikhophobia would be an appropriate term if the person who has the phobia knew anything about Sikhs. I think Turbanphobia might be more like it. The folks who have the phobia are not bad people, it is the lack of knowledge and their fear that kicks in. The only way, this will work in our favor if someone in NBC, CBS or ABC hires a Turbaned Sikh to play a role that is mainstream in a sitcom or drama.

    As more people see Mr. Singh or Dr. Singh, the more people will learn about us.

  2. pr

    shun the entertainment industry – what’s the point of Gurbani and Naam if one is going to put the poison of the entertainment industry inside one’s dimag? Stop using word turban – it is dastar.

    whether or not the bastards (majority of the multicultural trash populating the non-dharmic world are indeed bastards) harassing us know about Sikhi is irrelevant – this is indeed Sikhophobia – the fact that these atrocities are recorded as Islamophobic is psychological terrorism.

    If we Dharmics did our bhagti right we could show the semitic/abrahaminic demons a lesson they’d never forget.

    JewSA/JewK/JewNO: this is the true nexus of terror

    Not just Sikhs but every so-called “hindu” (and even some of the muslim punjabis of pakistan )have firm faith and belief in Baba Nanak – we are more than 20 million – we are over a billion strong!!! Before we succumbed to the malech hordes all Dharmics had unshorn hair – the South Asia of the not too distant is going to be FIT.

    These Semitic bastards with their terror manuals – koran/bible/torah -talmud – one day Akal Purakh will finish them all.

    The foundation of the Semtic system is slavery.
    This is why these semitic bastards harass us. Prabhupada tried to straighten these demoniacs out but he failed. One day Dharam will prevail.

    Never forget – No more bold declaration of sovereignty exists than unshorn hair and dastar. Never speak English amongst ourselves – always and forever Gurmukhi Punjabi.

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