Meet Gurjeet Singh, a Sikh religious leader who drives an Uber.— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) February 14, 2018
Recently, a passenger put a gun to his head while saying "I hate turban people; I hate beard people." pic.twitter.com/P8nkZvCAox
A Sikh Uber driver’s nighttime ride left him traumatized and worried for his safety after a passenger allegedly subjected him to despicable comments and an interrogation before holding him at gunpoint.
Gurjeet Singh, a religious leader from northwestern Illinois, says the incident took place on Jan. 28 after he picked up a man and a woman from near a tavern in Moline, Illinois. Once in the car, the male passenger began asking the driver incendiary questions about his religion and ethnicity.
“Which country do you belong to? Do you serve our country or do you serve your country?” the unidentified man inquired, according to The Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy organization representing Singh.
Singh, who has a wife and a child, came to the United States from India three years ago and is a legal citizen. He primarily came to the U.S. to serve his Sikh community and later started working as an Uber driver to support his family. Given the fact he speaks limited English, the driver was left terrified and confused by the passenger’s line of questioning and tried explaining that he served both the countries as his parents still lived in India.
“I hate turban people,” the man allegedly spat at him. “I hate beard people.”
Like most Sikhs, Singh chooses to keep a beard and wears a turban to honor his beliefs.
The racist man’s conjecture about Singh’s fidelity to America, along with the other remarks, suggested his behavior was triggered by xenophobia and racism.
Singh claimed the passenger then pulled a gun at him.
“The attacker’s behavior escalated more and more as Mr. Singh tried to inform him about his religion, about the tenets of Sikhism, why he wore a turban, as that went on, the attacker became more and more incensed, to the point where he pulled out a gun,” explained Sikh Coalition’s legal director and Singh’s lawyer Amrith Kaur.
The coalition further stated if it wasn’t for the woman ridiing with the potential assailant in the cab, the male passenger likely would've escalated his violence, as she “forcibly removed” him from the car.
The woman also reportedly apologized on the behalf of the suspect and advised Singh to abstain from taking a route that could make him cross paths with the guy again.
The Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case but no arrests have been made as of yet. Innately, the Sikh community is distressed that an armed suspect, harboring such resentment for them, is still out there roaming freely.
“We do still remain concerned that no arrest has been made and the State’s Attorney’s Office has yet to file hate crime charges, Mr. Singh and the local Sikh community have the right to feel safe,” Kaur added. “The reality is that hate crimes are not only attacks on individuals; they affect the entire community. They make all of us less safe, and everybody should be outraged by this.”
Unfortunately, such religiously motivated incidents have done considerable damage in U.S. Hate crimes have been on a rise ever since President Donald Trump took office — and what happened with Singh is just an ugly reminder of the times we are living in.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: John Gress, Reuters