Updated 8:27 am, Jul 29, 2020

Alleged assault of 89-year-old Sikh was hate crime, says Calgary MP || SNE

By  CBC .
Apr 07, 2018



A Calgary MP is speaking out against intolerance after one of his constituents was allegedly assaulted.


On March 16, Harjit Singh Rai was on his way to shop for groceries at a No Frills store in the northeast neighbourhood of Temple.


The 89-year-old man is a Sikh and was wearing a turban.


As he was getting out of his car that afternoon, he was approached by a stranger.


The white man, about 45-years-old, allegedly pushed Rai multiple times until he fell to the ground, knocking the turban from his head and injuring his hand and head. Rai was assisted by a passerby and taken to hospital. He has since been recovering at home.


MP Deepak Obhrai condemned the act of violence in a press conference on Friday.


“This shows that intolerance and hate crime is still present in our city. It is important that when these incidences happen we highlight and expose it,” Obhrai said.


“All Canadians must be treated equally … this kind of behaviour is not Canadian behaviour.”


Rai’s son, Suritam Rai, described his father as a local businessman and a respected member of the community. He said that in their 35 years in Canada, they’ve never experienced a situation like this before.


“The family feels he was attacked because he was the only turban-wearing Sikh in the parking lot and there were no other issues,” he said.


“I personally think that this was a hate crime incident.”


2nd reported attack against a Sikh in Canada this month

The World Sikh Organization of Canada also issued a statement on Friday, voicing concern over the alleged attack.


The non-profit group said it’s the second racially-motivated attack reported against a Sikh last month in Canada. On March 23, a Sikh man in Ottawa was attacked by two people who threatened to cut his beard and hair, assaulted him and then stole his turban, phone and bus pass, the group said.


“We have repeatedly warned that intolerance against Sikhs is on the rise in Canada due to recent, false accusations of extremism and radicalism against the community. The removal of the turban is considered a very serious insult. We hope that this crime is fully investigated as a hate crime,” said Tejinder Singh Sidhu, the Alberta vice-president for the World Sikh Organization.


Calgary police confirmed that one man has been charged in relation to the incident. 


The incident will be reviewed by the police hate crimes co-ordinator to determine if there was evidence that hate was a motivation, police said in a release.


If evidence is found, it would be presented during the court process so it could be considered as an aggravating factor during sentencing.

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