A Sikh American family from Sterling received a death threat Feb. 28 addressed to the “Turban Family” in the mail.
The family had been the target of hate crimes in 2003 while living in Gaithersburg, Md., according to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), a civil rights group for Sikh Americans. Their home was vandalized and they received two threatening letters.
According to SALDEF, the family has received two death threats since moving to the Leesburg area in 2005.
The letters reads:
“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.”
SALDEF is working with the FBI and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in an ongoing investigation.
“Incidents like these are constant reminders of the challenges that Sikh Americans face as a result of our unique identity. In the absence of awareness about who we are and what we stand for, Sikh Americans we continue to endure harassment, discrimination and threats which run counter to the American ideals,” SALDEF Associate Executive Director Jasjit Singh said in a release. “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.”
According to a release from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) within the past 10 years, Sikh Americans have seen a rise in verbal and physical discriminatory attacks.
“ADAMS has great friendships with the Sikh Community through its mutual work in Loudoun Interfaith Bridges and The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington,” ADAMS Board Member and Interfaith Chairperson Rizwan Jaka said in a release.
The Sikh religion was founded in South Asia more than 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 which are Sikh turbans, uncut hair, and other articles of faith, according to Jaka and SALDEF.
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