Fresno, California police are investigating an early Saturday morning attack on a Sikh man as a hate crime, according to the Fresno Bee.
According to the Bee, Amrik Singh Bal was confronted by two white males while waiting alone on a street corner for his ride to work at 6:30 a.m. After attempting to cross the street to get away from the two men, who were shouting obscenities at him, they backed their car into Bal, knocking him to the ground. They then exited the vehicle and began beating the 68-year-old, striking him in the face and upper body.
The Bee reported that one of the suspects yelled “Why are you here?” during the assault.
Fresno police sergeant Greg Noll told the newspaper that his department launched a hate-crime investigation into the attack, which left Bal with a broken collar bone and abrasions on his nose and hand. The Bee reported that the Department of Homeland Security and FBI are assisting Fresno police in their efforts to find the suspects.
Ike Iqbal S. Grewal, a member of the Sikh Council of Central California, told the Bee that “Sikhs have been mistaken for terrorists and radicals and continue to suffer after 9/11.”
Though Sikhism and Islam are two distinct religions, the beard and turban traditionally worn by Sikh men, including Bal, make them particularly visible targets for religiously-motivated hate crimes.