Hate crime alleged in stabbing of Sikh

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Santa Clara suspect could face life term if he is convicted

A Santa Clara man accused of stabbing his Sikh neighbor in the neck because he thought the man was a member of the Taliban is scheduled to be arraigned today in a San Jose courtroom on attempted murder and hate crime charges, authorities said.

Everett Thompson, 25, could face life in prison if convicted in the attack, prosecutor Jay Boyarsky said. He said formal charges will be filed today, and prosecutors will ask that Thompson be held without bail.

Iqbal Singh, 40, was standing with his 2-year-old granddaughter in his family’s carport on Sunday preparing to leave for religious services when Thompson approached and stabbed him once in the neck with a steak knife, Boyarsky said.

Singh did not know Thompson, who said nothing during the attack in the 3400 block of Agate Drive, Boyarsky said. Authorities did not know Thompson’s occupation.

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Singh was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover, police Sgt. Kurt Clarke said. The granddaughter was not injured.

Thompson was arrested at his home a short distance away, where police also found the knife they suspect was used, said Boyarsky, who oversees hate-crime prosecutions for the Santa Clara County district attorney.

“There are indications in the police report that Mr. Thompson wanted to seek revenge for Sept. 11 and attack a member of the Taliban,” Boyarsky said.

“Investigators believe that it was hate-crime motivated,” Clarke said. “Mr. Singh was wearing a turban, and Mr. Thompson interpreted that Mr. Singh was a member of the Taliban, which is obviously not true.”

The Taliban is a fundamentalist Islamic movement in Afghanistan that is fighting a guerrilla war there after a U.S. invasion ousted it from power in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The regime required men to wear beards and head coverings.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in northern India. The religion proscribes that Sikhs never cut their hair, and men often wear turbans. There are about 40,000 Sikhs in the Bay Area, according to area Sikh leaders, and many have been harassed by people who mistake them for Muslims and link them to terrorism.

“It’s sadly not unknown for Sikh individuals to be targeted as victims of hate crimes by people who perceive them as a quote-unquote terrorist or a quote-unquote Muslim extremist,” Boyarsky said. “This crime seems to fit that horrible pattern.”

At least three Sikh cabdrivers have been shot in the Bay Area since Sept. 11, 2001 — two fatally. Someone also shot at the sign for Vacaville’s Sikh temple, or gurdwara. In 2004, Molotov cocktails were thrown at California’s oldest gurdwara, in Stockton. In 2005, someone spray painted the Sikh temple in Lodi with anti-Muslim epithets.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
San Francisco Chronicle, USA
Aug. 2, 2006
John Coté

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)