• Family

    • Liberal Conspiracy
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr. Mitu Khurana
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feminism for non-lefties
    • Feministing
    • Gender Bytes
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Statesman blogs
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Douglas Clark's saloon
    • Earwicga
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Rita Banerji
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Southall Black Sisters
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head

  • Religious hate crime in States


    by Sunny
    15th November, 2007 at 10:45 am    

    A friend of mine from NY sent me this story yesterday:

    In keeping with his Sikh faith, Harpal had kept his unshorn hair tucked inside a dastaar, a religious turban. The police say that his attacker, a high school senior named Umair Ahmed, had removed Harpal’s turban and cut his hair to punish him for making derogatory comments about Mr. Ahmed’s mother — comments for which Harpal had apologized. The Queens district attorney has charged Mr. Ahmed with a hate crime. The case is one of the few in which anyone has acted to stem bias-based harassment in city schools, though only after the damage has been done.

    And Harpal is not alone. A survey released by the Sikh Coalition this summer shows evidence of a larger pattern of harassment in New York City public schools. More than 75 percent of Sikh boys surveyed who attend schools in Queens complain of being regularly harassed and intimidated by classmates. Students hit them on the head or on their turbans, calling them “terrorists” or “diaperheads.”

    Many of them never report these incidents, because they doubt administrators will respond. Their fears are not unreasonable: the survey found that of those Sikh students who complained about being harassed, nearly one-third were ignored.

    The question is, should “hate-crime” based on a person’s race, sexuality or religion carry extra punishment? I’m not sure because on the one hand crime sentences should be uniformly addressed, on the other hand it looks like unless they are specifically addressed then the powers that be end up ignoring them. What’s also interesting is that this level of intimidation of Sikhs doesn’t seem to be replicated in the UK, going by anecdotal evidence.


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: Race politics,Religion






    28 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » It makes even light rubbish deadly

      [...] I think, should answer Sunny’s question: The question is, should “hate-crime” based on a person’s race, sexuality or religion carry [...]


    2. davecole.org » blog » Blog Archive » Conspiratorial liberals

      [...] declare an interest here. I commented here about justifications for hate-crime laws on a post from Sunny of Pickled Politics and these [...]




    1. Rumbold — on 15th November, 2007 at 10:57 am  

      Attacking someone because you hate their race/religion is not any worse than attacking someone for any other illogical reason. They should carry the same penalty.

    2. Random Guy — on 15th November, 2007 at 11:06 am  

      Does it not already carry an extra punishment in the UK if you are a muslim?

      Anyway, I think there should be an extra punishment in this case - for extreme stupidity for confusing Sikhs with muslims. A slap on the head (flat palm style) should be sufficient.

    3. sonia — on 15th November, 2007 at 11:22 am  

      yeah, because the other day in the news i saw the thing about the girl who got kicked to death up in lancashire because she and her boyfriend were dressed as goths, and i suppose to the other kids who beat them up, that was ‘alien’. is that less of a problem, than if she had been some ‘recognised’ minority? No i don’t think so.

      You don’t have to be of a ‘different’ group to get bullied. People don’t really think that countries where you have the same race, same religion, that kids don’t bully each other because they don’t belong to groups that articulate themselves “separately” somewhat officially. if the gang doesn’t like the way you look, talk, they might kick your head in or be nasty. Of course in those cases, people seem to think its about the kids, not about their constituent groups going head to head.

    4. Random Guy — on 15th November, 2007 at 11:27 am  

      I read about the Goth girl as well. It was really sad. Pissed me right off as well.

    5. Refresh — on 15th November, 2007 at 11:41 am  

      Truly depressing.

    6. inspired — on 15th November, 2007 at 2:24 pm  

      Dude any fresh stories on Asiansinmedia.org

      Just thought id holla

      Regards

      Inspired

    7. inspired — on 15th November, 2007 at 2:27 pm  

      Oh by the way check out this website

      http://www.diversitylink.co.uk

    8. Kismet Hardy — on 15th November, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

      I hate Rohin because he’s better than me. If I killed him, why would it not be classed as a hate crime?

    9. Namrita — on 15th November, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

      ‘cut his hair to punish him for making derogatory comments about Mr. Ahmed’s mother — comments for which Harpal had apologized.’

      Is this really a hate/race-crime? Of course it is truly awful but it seems from the paragraph you quoted that the guy wanted to cause the maximum pain to the sikh guy and so targetted something that is extremely important to him. But the motivation was some perceived attack on his mother, not because of his religion it seems.

      Regarding your question - should “hate-crime” based on a person’s race, sexuality or religion carry extra punishment?

      I don’t think so. A crime is a crime and should carry the same punishment regardless, especially as a lot of crimes are motivated by some sort of issue e.g. attacker hates women, hates people with blonde/black/green hair etc. I don’t think religion, sexuality or race should be given preferential treatment.

    10. Adnan — on 15th November, 2007 at 5:55 pm  

      IMO, yes, the action taken was a bit more specific than thumping the guy for an insult.

    11. Rumbold — on 15th November, 2007 at 5:59 pm  

      Inspired:

      Please tell me that is a joke website.

      It is nice to see that the state can afford to fill all the jobs listed when it can’t find the money to rehabilitate wounded soldiers or fund more refuges for women on the run from their murderous inlaws.

    12. The Heresiarch — on 15th November, 2007 at 6:26 pm  

      Random guy says: “I think there should be an extra punishment in this case - for extreme stupidity for confusing Sikhs with muslims.”

      Somehow I don’t think the attack, whose name was Umair Ahmed, was labouring under that particular delusion.

    13. sonia — on 15th November, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

      yes the point is that when people want to hurt someone, they do attack in a way that is meant to taunt the other person, get at something close to their heart, tease them about something they know will hurt most. that is common playground bully behaviour.

    14. douglas clark — on 15th November, 2007 at 7:33 pm  

      Rumbold @ 1,

      You do know that Sunny is right in asking the question?

      I see where you and Sonia are coming from. Hate can be independent of any stated belief system. But where I’d disagree with the both of you, is that where it is transparent that a belief system, however wrongly held, motivates aggressive behaviour, up to and including 7/7, then it is unacceptable.

      Please explain yourselves in that context.

    15. Random Guy — on 15th November, 2007 at 7:39 pm  

      The Heresiarch @ 13,

      I was actually responding to points Sunny made further on in his post. I know that the attacker was obviously aware that Harpal was Sikh. It is a religous/hate crime in the context of deliberately targetting something of religous significance to Harpal. Which is both disgusting and unacceptable imo. May as well whack the attacker over the head a few times too I suppose.

    16. Rumbold — on 15th November, 2007 at 8:13 pm  

      Douglas:

      “But where I’d disagree with the both of you, is that where it is transparent that a belief system, however wrongly held, motivates aggressive behaviour, up to and including 7/7, then it is unacceptable.”

      Well it is unacceptable, but that should not merit a longer jail term. If I punch you in the face, which of these reasons should incur the longest jail term:

      - You are Scottish

      - I don’t like your cardigan

      - You are white

      Whatever the reason, the end result is that you were punched in the face for no good reason.

      I think the real question is why do people not kill Siler immediately when they drug him or tie him up? Why wait and have a chat with him?

    17. Dave Cole — on 15th November, 2007 at 10:14 pm  

      The question is, I think, ‘are racially, sexually and religion-based hatred worse than other kinds’. The answer is, I think, yes.

      Firstly, they have a pernicious effect on society, breeding mistrust, suspicion and hate beyond those immediately affected by the crime.

      Secondly, they are more common than hate because on the basis of someone’s cardigan and are indicative of societal attitudes that must be challenged, morally and in a more utilitarian fashion, through the criminal justice system precisely because of the effects mentioned above.

      Thirdly, as has been seen in many instances, hate crimes tend to lead to retaliation - they are a feature of group psychology - and so it is important to prevent cycles of retaliatory hate crimes both by presenting the stick and saying that the state is opposed to hate crimes.

      As an endcap, there were posters up around Temple (which I used to walk through every day) shortly after September 11 saying that Sikhs weren’t Muslims, apparently in an attempt to stop some of the Islamophobic backlash around the time falling on Sikhs.

    18. Kulvinder — on 15th November, 2007 at 10:31 pm  

      The question is, should “hate-crime” based on a person’s race, sexuality or religion carry extra punishment?

      No. I can understand the argument that the law should reflect the concerns of society and if racism and homophobia are increasing it should actively try and be a deterrent. The problem is emotive social issues of that kind have never been discouraged by harsher sentencing.

      Trying to change the behaviour of a bigot, or more importantly stopping them from turning to violence cannot be achieved by giving them a harsher sentence. If anything it’ll increase their sense of victimisation and isolation.

    19. SajiniW — on 15th November, 2007 at 10:48 pm  

      Most violent bigots are so blinded by their beliefs that the prospect of a few extra years in prison won’t affect their actions.

      Hence, harsher punishments won’t work.

    20. Sunny — on 16th November, 2007 at 12:19 am  

      Dave Cole’s made some very interesting points I hadn’t considered earlier.

      Kulvinder: Trying to change the behaviour of a bigot, or more importantly stopping them from turning to violence cannot be achieved by giving them a harsher sentence.

      I don’t think here the aim is to change the behaviour of the potential bigot, because one can safely assume the emotion of hatred will be over-ridden.

      But then this assumes firstly that harsher sentences don’t work…. when they will because the sentence for a murder is more than manslaughter.

      Secondly, the signal is not necessarily to potential offenders but also to the society at large, to signal that a certain stigma shouldn’t be tolerated especially since it may lead to further aggravation.

    21. Arif — on 16th November, 2007 at 8:54 am  

      The way I understand hate crime is that it is targeting an individual because of their membership of a group you dislike. Because of this aspect, it is both persecution of an individual and of a wider group - it is a form of political violence.

      In this case, I don’t think it is a hate crime by that definition, although I can understand why a lawyer might argue that it is because the manner of his revenge was to attack a symbol of their faith which is visibly shared with others and because it attempts to degrade the group by attacking the symbol.

      I would support the concept of hate crime in the sense that it takes account of the wider intimidatory impact of the crime because of its motivation to terrorise a class of people, which makes it a political action, not just a criminal action. And that is why I argued here before that terrorist actions should be classed as hate crimes.

    22. Ravi Naik — on 16th November, 2007 at 10:28 am  

      Dave Cole, that is the best defense of hate crime laws I have read. And I do agree with what you have said. But I feel the question remains: do we still need them?
      I think we have reached a stage where the vast majority - even if they are prejudiced - does not aprove violence when it is motivated by hate. We are, after all, in an age where racism is very subtle, not raw and crude as in the past.

      Except of course, when it comes to radical religious bigots, who seem to a have a free pass when it comes to hate speech. Perhaps, we do need hate crime laws after all, for the exact reasons you mentioned.

    23. Dave Cole — on 16th November, 2007 at 2:24 pm  

      Sunny and Ravi - thankyou.

      In answer to your question - do we still need them - the answer is, sadly, yes. So long as the BNP and fellow-travelling knuckledraggers engage in violence and so long as some non-racist but naive people, including amongst the Conservative Party, effectively support them, we need to maintain the laws.

      Equally, they give leadership across Europe; you don’t even have to as far as Russia to see that. It occurs quite blatantly in France and, as we have recently seen, in Romania.

      Perhaps the problem is one of nomenclature; we cannot and, I think, would not want to criminalise hatred or any other emotion. We can distinguish between crimes where the immediate, victim-related outcome is similar but motivation is different, as we do with manslaughter and murder.

      xD.

      Ravi, in answer to your last point - Christopher Hitchens put it well in his, ahem, eulogy on Jerry Falwell; if you can get yourself called Reverend, you can get away with almost anything.

    24. FUNKG — on 16th November, 2007 at 6:16 pm  

      Just saw this story on London Tonight and it almost had me in tears;

      A family petrol bombed twice in one year say they have been driven from their Carshalton home by racist thugs.

      The final straw for the terrified Patels came on November 6 when their newsagent and home in Durand Close was attacked by arsonists. Shakuntal and Suresh’s 20-year-old son was home alone at the time.

      “I had been sitting upstairs watching TV,” said Kirtan Patel. “It was about 9.30pm when I heard a big bang.

      “It moved the sofa and the TV.

      “I ran out to the front and the shutters downstairs were moving in and out, and then I just saw big flames. It was like an earthquake, and then I jumped from the balcony.”

      The fire gutted the newsagent, ruining thousands of pounds of stock and rendering their home uninhabitable.

      advertisement
      In the past seven years the family have suffered ongoing racist abuse.

      It is the latest racist incident in Carshalton in recent months.

      In August, Deepshikha Sathyanarayanan said she was leaving the town because racists were making her life a living hell.

      “We’ve had problems from the beginning,” said the Patel’s elder son Nish, 30. “It ranges from petty things like eggs being thrown at our windows, so we have to put curtains on the outside to protect them and then once they scrawled Paki go home’ on mum’s car.

      “I ran out to the front and the shutters downstairs were moving in and out, and then I just saw big flames. It was like an earthquake, and then I jumped from the balcony.”
      Kirtan Patel

      “One of our workers was beaten up in the shop and he left. It’s difficult to even keep staff.

      “We called the police and while they were here someone petrol bombed my mum’s brand new car, right outside the shop.”

      At the time police removed the family for their own safety, but Nish said he never thought it would get this bad.

      “I couldn’t believe it. I’ve told my parents not to come back. We are worried for their safety more than anyone else.”

      Mrs Patel said despite ploughing most of their money into the business she was intent on leaving Carshalton.

      Chief Inspector Dave Gair from Sutton police said the incident was being treated as “critical”, but that no arrests had been made.

      Anyone with information can call Sutton CID on 020 8649 0777 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    25. Kulvinder — on 17th November, 2007 at 2:28 am  

      I don’t think here the aim is to change the behaviour of the potential bigot, because one can safely assume the emotion of hatred will be over-ridden.

      It depends on the semantics of the phrase ‘change the behaviour’ if one of the aims of the law is to deter violence (with harsher sentencing); you’re essentially affecting the tendency of an individual to act in a certain manner (ie you are ‘changing their behaviour’).

      As it is the only truly random acts of violence are committed by psychopaths. Everything else is targeted in some way. I don’t see why its ‘worse’ for a wealthy black man to be attacked because he was black rather than because he was wealthy.

    26. SajiniW — on 17th November, 2007 at 1:43 pm  

      Another link to the story in post 25. I did part of my growing up near Carshalton, so I’m a tad alarmed by it.

      http://www.wimbledonguardian.co.uk/news/topstories/display.var.1834238.0.family_driven_from_their_home_by_racist_attacks.php

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.