Arrest Made, Hate Crime Charged in Attack on NYC Sikh Taxi Driver
January 14, 2022 (New York, NY) — Today, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) shared that last night, Mohamed Hassanain was arrested for the January 3 attack on a Sikh taxi driver (identified only as “Mr. Singh” to preserve his anonymity) at JFK airport. The incident is being considered a hate crime, given that Hassanain shouted “go back to your country” and called the driver “turbaned people” in a derogatory manner while repeatedly punching and shoving him.
“We are grateful to the Port Authority Police Department and Queens District Attorney’s Office for their prompt action on this case, and for recognizing that the attack on Mr. Singh included clear anti-Sikh bias,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director (she/her). “This case underscores the importance of sharing all of the details of these kinds of attacks with law enforcement. Holding perpetrators accountable for both their actions and their hateful motivations is the clearest way to show that bigotry, and the violence that it fuels, have no place in our communities.”
Mr. Singh, who still requests privacy at this time, released the following statement: “I am thankful to law enforcement, the Sikh Coalition, and all those in the community who have offered their strength in this difficult time. No one should experience what I did–but if they do, I hope they receive the same overwhelming amount of support and quick, professional action by the authorities in response.”
Hassanain is being charged with Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, Assault in the Third Degree, and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, and will be arraigned on Saturday, January 15. In the meantime, the Sikh Coalition will continue to stay engaged on this case. As we did in the aftermath of the attack, we will continue to assist Mr. Singh in his correspondence with law enforcement and ensure that all relevant details are conveyed between all parties. Additionally, we are grateful for the support of the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force in this case.
As a reminder, Sikhs in the United States continue to experience bias- and hate-driven attacks on account of their visibly identifiable articles of faith (including turbans and unshorn hair) as well as perceptions about their country of origin. According to the most recent FBI data, Sikhs remain in the top three most frequently targeted groups for religiously-motivated hate crimes and bias incidents nationwide. In the Sikh Coalition’s experience, taxi and rideshare drivers in particular are at a heightened risk of kinds of violent attacks; in recent years, we have provided free legal aid to multiple Sikh drivers attacked across the country, and we continue to provide know-your-rights resources proactively to help the community stay safe.
Mr. Singh is still not willing to speak to the press and has reiterated his request not to be publicly identified. Moreover, due to the traumatic nature of the video of the attack, the Sikh Coalition respectfully requests that news outlets refrain from further publishing that footage. For more information about this case or the Sikh Coalition’s ongoing work to both provide free legal aid to Sikhs impacted by bigotry and bias as well as educate the broader public about Sikhs and Sikhism, please contact email@example.com.