Sikhs: Religious minority target of hate crimes

sikh shooting 02
Sikh shooting investigated as hate crime
00:59 - Source: CNN
New Delhi CNN  — 

The victim of a possible hate crime in Washington state Friday would not be the first Sikh to be targeted.

Since 9/11, Sikh-American groups say members of their religion have faced discrimination and abuse because their long beards and turbans make them more visible than other minority groups.

According to the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US surged 67% last year, to levels not seen since 2001.

Highly visible

In a statement, the Sikh Coalition, America’s largest Sikh civil rights group, said that Sikhs are often targeted for hate crimes in part “due to the Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and beard, which represent the Sikh religious commitment to justice, tolerance and equality.”

In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh commanded all Sikhs to wear the “Five Ks” in order to identify themselves as a member of the Khalsa Panth, an army of the devout.

Young Indian Sikhs participate in a turban tying competition in 2014.

The “Five Ks” are: Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bangle), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kaccha (cotton underwear) and Kirpan (a steel sword).

Devout Sikh men don’t cut their hair or shave because they believe you must maintain your body in the way that God created you. Turbans are worn as a way to keep heads covered out of respect when in public and in religious spaces.

Sikh women often cover their heads with a long scarf called a chunni or dupatta.