A Columbia Professor's Brave Response After Getting Beat Up and Called a Muslim


Dr. Prabhjot Singh is an assistant professor of international affairs at Columbia University and a medical doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital. On Saturday night he was attacked and brutally beaten by a group of teenagers who sought him out as he walked along 110th Street in Manhattan with a friend and fellow Sikh American.

The group of at least 20 males shouted anti-Muslim slurs such as "Get Osama!" and "Terrorist!" while grabbing his beard and repeatedly punching him in the face, breaking his jaw and subjecting him to severe cuts and bruises. Police are currently investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Singh has chronicled hate crimes against other Sikhs in the past and now speaks out as one of America's most recent victims of a Sikh hate crime. His response reflects how devout he is, and how he is a dedicated, compassionate role model within his his community. He has stated that he harbors no animosity towards his attackers.

In addition to being tolerant and displaying warmth while being treated with cruelty, Singh offered up a solution: education. He maintains "if [his attackers] were better educated about the world around them, they would not lash out." He called on the U.S. government, educators, and textbook manufacturers to teach children the right messages.

The recent hateful remarks and attacks against those misidentified as Muslim demonstrate that a lack of education contributes to race-related crimes. Netizens and news sources flocked to the internet last week to comment on the swarm of hateful and severely ill founded remarks that followed the crowning of Nina Davuluri as Miss America. Some called the Indian American woman an "Arab" and "Muslim" while others labeled her a terrorist.

In August 2012, six people died at the hands of a gunman at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Singh responded to not only the attack but also to the misguided, anti-Muslim remarks following the murders. In his Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, he not only shed light on the legacy of anti-Sikh violence, but also urged the combating of bias and discrimination against all Americans, including Muslims.

The message he implored all to consider after last years' attacks is one we can also look to now: education will be the key to battling and hopefully dissolving discrimination of all kinds in the United States.

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Erica Wadzinski

Hi, I'm Erica. I'm currently an ESL teacher living in Jining, Shandong, China. I've also taught English in the country of Georgia and have been traveling during and in between school and teaching jobs abroad since 2010. I'm an English and Spanish double major who loves languages, travel, writing, and classic literature. A healthy obsession with mixed martial arts (mma) for me pacifies the occasional bout of homesickness.

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