US judge orders man who assaulted Sikh shopkeeper to learn about religion | News | DW | 25.05.2019
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US judge orders man who assaulted Sikh shopkeeper to learn about religion

An Oregon man who assaulted a Sikh shopkeeper must attend a Sikh parade and learn about their religion and culture. "Bigotry is the result of ignorance," the judge said.

A judge on Friday ordered an Oregon man to attend a Sikh festival and submit a report to the court about the religion as part of his sentence for attacking a Sikh shopkeeper in Salem.

Andrew Ramsey, 25, was arrested on January 14 after he tried to rip the turban off Harwinder Singh Dodd's head, spat at him, pulled his beard and threw a shoe at him when the store owner refused to sell Ramsey cigarettes without an ID. Customers eventually restrained Ramsey until police arrived.

"He didn't see me as a person," Dodd said of Ramsey. "He attacked me because of how I look. Because of my turban and beard — my religious articles of faith."

Ramsey pleaded guilty to second-degree misdemeanor counts of intimidation and assault. He has been previously convicted of methamphetamine possession, domestic violence assault and theft.

Marion County Judge Lindsay Partridge ordered Ramsey to attend a Sikh parade in June in Salem and inform the court of what he learned about the Sikh community and culture, the Statesman Journal newspaper of Salem reported.

"Bigotry is the result of ignorance," Partridge said at Friday's sentencing. "All of us are able to learn and benefit from cultures in our community."

The judge also pointed out that Dodd was a hardworking business owner raising a family, while Ramsey was a convicted drug user and domestic abuser.

Ramsey was sentenced to 180 days in jail and given three years' probation.

Sikhs say they face discrimination

An estimated 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States. Sikh men don't cut their hair and cover it with a turban, or dastar.

According to the civil rights organization Sikh Coalition, Sikhs face "immense discrimination" and hate in the United States, particularly since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

"Mistaken identity" is often used to describe anti-Sikh hate violence, but the Sikh Coalition says this view fails to take into account bias against Sikhs and inadvertently implies that "a group" should be targeted.

"While there is consistent misunderstanding about the Sikh articles of faith, it is the conflation with terrorism combined with the broader xenophobic undercurrent that continually puts Sikhs at high risk," according to the Sikh Coalition.

cw/jm (AP)

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