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Recent Senseless Shootings in Arizona and New York: Could They Be Hate Crimes?

August 20, 2016 | By

New York: On Monday, August 8, 2016, Amanjeet Singh Toor, a Sikh man, was shot and killed in a convenience store in Arizona. More than a week later, there is no information about why despite offers of a reward for information. On Saturday, August 15, 2016, two Muslim men were shot in the head and killed in New York in broad daylight. While the circumstances of the deaths are different, in both instances, the communities called for the police to investigate whether the acts were hate crimes based on the victims’ race or religion. Despite these pleas, the police appear reluctant to consider an underlying racial or religious hate motive.

Amanjeet Singh Toor was shot dead early Monday by a masked man during an armed robbery at the convenience store

Amanjeet Singh Toor was shot dead early Monday by a masked man during an armed robbery at the convenience store

It is no wonder that in these communities an act of senseless violence against one of their own seems motivated by racial and or religious intolerance. First, racist and anti-immigrant sentiment has been part of the rhetoric used to rile voters in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaigns, says the New York based not for profit, Muslim Community Network. They wrote: “The tragic deaths of these respected religious leaders are a byproduct of growing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment fueled largely by this bigoted rhetoric and fear-mongering.” Second, since 9/11, the Sikh and Muslim communities’ have experienced race and religious based hate crimes on an exponential level. Acts of bullying in schools, on the street and in public places had become everyday occurrences for Sikhs and Muslims in Ozone Park, Queens and elsewhere.

“In this political climate, these communities are rightfully concerned that the number of hate crimes against them may be growing. Yet, only the more criminal acts of bias are adequately recorded; and for Sikhs as a distinct group, only as recently as 2015,” states Manvinder Singh, a Director at United Sikhs.

Communities need to feel that they are included and that crimes against them are adequately addressed, states Tejinder Bains, Esq., an attorney practicing in New York City and a member of the United Sikhs board of directors. “Given the political climate against immigrants, the police must at least give due consideration to the impetus of the crimes being racially based.”

United Sikhs and it’s staff and volunteers pray for Amanjeet Singh Toor, Maulama Akonjee, Thara Uddin and their families, that these crimes may be solved quickly and that the families and communities may find peace and solace.

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