Washington, D.C. (March 2, 2012) — This past Tuesday, February 28, 2012, a Sikh American family from Sterling, Virginia received a letter containing death threats addressed to ‘Turban Family’.
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund obtained a copy of the letter and is calling for a federal investigation into a hate crime. The text of the letter reads as follows:
“Our People in the neighborhood have been closely watching your activities and figured out you are a close associate of a secret Taliban movement on the US Soil. We ask you to leave the country as soon as possible otherwise one of our people is going to shoot you dead. Don’t attempt to relocate somewhere else in America as people are closely monitoring your day to day activities.”
This family has been the target of previous hate crimes as well. In 2003, while living in Gaithersburg, Maryland their home was vandalized with graffiti and they received two threatening letters. Then, in 2005, after moving to Leesburg, Virginia, they received two more death threats via mail. In the latter of these cases, the FBI was able to apprehend a suspect for the threat.
SALDEF has been in contact with the FBI and local law enforcement and urges them to fully investigate this incident as a hate crime.
“Incidents like these are a constant reminder of the challenges that Sikh Americans face as a result of our unique identity. In the absence of awareness about who are and what we stand for, Sikh Americans continue to endure harassment, discrimination and threats which run counter to the American ideals ,” said SALDEF Associate Executive Director, Jasjit Singh. “We call upon local and federal law enforcement agencies to rightfully classify this incident as a hate crime and bring the perpetrators to justice to show that hate and violence are not tolerated in our society.”
The Sikh religion was founded in South Asia over 500 years ago by Guru Nanak. There are more than 25 million Sikhs throughout the world and approximately 700,000 adherents of the Sikh religion in the United States. Observant Sikhs are distinguished by dastaars (Sikh turbans), uncut hair, and other articles of faith.
Founded in 1996, SALDEF is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization in the country. SALDEF’s mission is to protect the civil rights of all Americans and ensure a fostering environment in the United States for Sikh Americans. SALDEF empowers Sikh Americans through educational outreach, media relations, leadership development and legal and legislative advocacy.