The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

’9-11 Go Home,’ Attackers of Sikhs Say

By Bill Morlin on September 9, 2011 - 2:28 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim, Hate Crime

A North Carolina convenience store was heavily damaged in a middle-of-the-night fire apparently started this week by an arsonist who sprayed hate graffiti marking the anniversary of 9-11. It is the latest in a string of violent crimes, including murders, where the victims are Sikhs – apparently mistaken as Muslims by the hate crime perpetrators.

The message “9-11 Go Home” was spray-painted on the exterior wall of State Line Grocery, heavily damaged by the fire reported at 2:40 a.m. [EDT] on Wednesday, Clay County Sheriff Vic Davis told Hatewatch. The convenience store, reportedly owned by a Sikh family, is located three miles south of Hayesville, N.C., in Clay County, on State Highway 69 near the Georgia border. It was closed at the time of the fire. Arvinder Singh, who operates the store and lives nearby, was not injured.  He could not be reached for comment.

“There’s a possibility,” the sheriff said when asked if the arson fire appeared to be a hate crime. “What leads us to believe it may be a hate crime is what’s written on the side of the building,’’ the sheriff said. “These are foreigners that run that place, you know.”

The sheriff said two of his deputies responded to the fire and used fire extinguishers to help douse the flames. It was apparent to them, the sheriff said, that a flammable liquid had been used.

“We’ve turned the investigation over to the arson investigator with the SBI [State Bureau of Investigation],” Davis said. A spokeswoman with that organization – an agency within the North Carolina Department of Justice – didn’t immediately return telephone calls and an E-mail seeking comment.

It also couldn’t be confirmed whether the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in North Carolina had become involved in the arson investigation. A press officer in the FBI headquarters in Charlotte didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment.

Becky Long, the editor and publisher of the Clay County Progress, a weekly newspaper in Hayesville, said it appears to her the fire was a hate crime. Her newspaper web site published a brief news article and two photographs of the fire damage and graffiti. “You’d have to be blind not to think that,’’ she said when asked about the possibility of a hate crime. “Wouldn’t you think, ‘9-11 Go Home?’”

The store owners apparently are Sikhs and not Muslim, “but in a small town like this a lot of people don’t know the difference,’’ Long said.

“Sikhs have been disproportionately targeted since 9/11,” said Sandeep Amy Kaur, a staff attorney with the Sikh Coalition, based in New York City. “We are deeply disturbed that a Sikh-owned business was targeted in what appears to be a dangerous hate crime. We look forward to a thorough and swift investigation by law enforcement to bring the perpetrators to justice. This type of hate will not be tolerated. We encourage the family to contact the Sikh Coalition if we can be of any assistance.”

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sikhs increasingly have been the targets of hate crimes. In March, Surinder Singh, 65, was shot and killed in Elk Grove, Calif., while walking with his friend, Gurmej Atwal, 78, who was critically wounded and later died. Both men were wearing dastars [traditional Sikh turbans] and long beards common to men of that faith.

There have been no arrests in that double-murder investigation.

  • mk

    Bukko;

    Regarding ‘hate crime’, it is wrong no matter against whom it is commited.

    Regarding Who Sikhs are and who they hate, I don’t know where your your Sikh friends learned. It is inaccurate. I suggest you research on your own and not depend on your ignorant friends. Basic Sikh philosophy as I learned, there is one God who created the entire creation and is manifested in its creation. The word Sikh means a ‘seeker’ of truth. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and other ten Sikh Gurus (1469-1708) has Muslim, Hindu and Sikh followers. Our Scriptures ‘Adi Granth has writings of Sikh Gurus, Muslim and Hindu saints who had similar way of relating to God.

    The three basic Sikh commandments are:

    1) Prayer to one omnipresent God
    2) Dignity of labor (your food must be earned by the sweat of your brow.
    3) Share your earning with other needy irrespective of color, cast, religion.

    We must learn ourselves about anyone’s religion before putting false information on public blog.

    With best wishes

    I

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Has anyone noticed the idiocy of the chant, “9-11 GO HOME?” It’s like the cherry on the top of an Ignorance Sundae.

  • MrsCaptJack

    The sheriff is most likely in his mid-fifties. This means he’s most likely been brought up on racism his whole life. His comment “These are foreigners that run that place, you know.” is offensive because of the underlying tone.

    Had a very enlightening conversation with a woman yesterday on this very subject. In her mid-fifties, raised to be prejudiced against black/brown. Beaten if she stood up for them and now cannot overcome it completely. Good for her that she recognizes it and doesn’t spread it.

  • Happygolucky

    You cannot hate like this. It’s hate like this that’s going to bring an end to this lovely world.

  • Martin Luther Nanak Akbar and the Universalists

    Read: An Introduction to Sikhism.
    It’s a Noble Faith born of the conflict between the various tribal groups swarming into the Indus Valley from the Asian Steppes, and the Great Religions of Islam and Hinduism that they either brought with them or sought to replace one with the other.
    Sikhism, though they’d hate to hear me say this (Sorry, Narayanjot), is a sort oof half-way between the two religions; it is very lovely – they all wear a “steel slave bracelet” about their ankles, as a sign of their “slave-like devotion to God”.
    How could you HATE that?

  • TC

    I share everyone’s concern about the targeting of members of minority ethnic/religious groups on account of their race/religion, but I think the sheriff was, in saying “These are foreigners that run that place, you know” – only emphasizing the fact that religious/ethnic bias was possibly the motive for the attack.

  • http://earleydaysyet.Tumblr.com EarleyDaysYet

    @labman57: “guilt by general resemblance” – what a perfect phrase! I’m nicking it :-)

  • Terry Washington

    Firstly, JImmy Hoffa Jr prefaced his comments by advising Teamsters to”vote these people out of office”. Secondly, to quote Dr King-”injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere!”

    ‘Nuff said

    Terry

  • Lex

    It´s sad that 911 is used by both sides of the hate groups to advocate there agenda, t

    The extremist Islamist use 911 to glorify terrosim against the west and the racists right use it to justify insane anti immigration views

  • A.D.M.

    G Singh, that’s not the case. The writer is not saying the crime is worse because the guys were mistaken for Muslims. The writer is pointing out what happened in this incident.

  • G Singh

    As a Sikh, I find it worrying that somehow the crime is perceived worse because they were mistaken for Muslims.

    Would it have been less terrible if the victims were Muslim?

    Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, Sikhs and Muslims generally get on very well.

    Instead of whining about how we are being mistakenly targeted, we should be campaigning to put a stop to the Islamophobia.

  • Puneeta wouhra

    The sheriff should realise all Americans are immigrants/foreigners. He should remember how the United States was formed.
    If America wants to be the leader of the world it should lead by example by educating its people that are engulfed with sheer ignorance .If not it will nuture ill feeling rather than healing!

  • skinnyminny

    Bukko,
    you are suggesting the attackers may have attacked their own partners in hate! You are kidding, aren’t you! There are no loyalties whatsoever, except for themselves.

    People like the attackers run from one ethnic group to the next. One minute they are siding with the Israelis, and/or Jewish people to cause problems amongst the Muslims. Just look at how many of them have visited Israel, or participated in anti-Muslim backings.

    Next minute, they are siding with Muslims to cause problems amongst the Israelis and Muslims. Just look at how many of them participating in the wide conspiracy of New World Order (personally, I think it is the attackers type that are lying about Jewish people trying to start a NWO – but instead it is they themselves with their slogan of anti-minority homelands).

    Next minute, they are siding with Latinos to cause problems amongst the blacks and Latinos. They have sat up and bragged about how immigrants from Latin America ‘hate’ blacks. In addition, they made American blacks and Latinos compete for jobs with immigrants from Latin American countries. On top of all of this, they hold anti-immigrant (more specifically geared toward Latinos) rallies, then blame government for not securing the borders. When it is known that the government can’t hire undocumented immigrants, but, this is why these same people want to privatize many governmental functions and jobs so that they can continue to hire undocumented workers.

    Next minute, they are siding with blacks to cause problems between blacks and Latinos. They push the conspiracy that if the undocumented Latinos weren’t here, we’d have jobs, and other benefits/entitlements we used to have. So, they try to get blacks to attend anti-immigrant rallies – but, look around you, how many blacks do you see attending these events? You can, if you can, count them on one hand.

    Now, this with the issues between people of India and Pakistan. I questioned (not openly or publicly) how was it that the last adm gave them both (countries) nu weapons. Another thing, why are private contractors in Iraq bringing in foreign workers from Muslim countries – yet, al-Maliki end up having to immediately send them back to their country of origin, and it is alleged that al-Maliki is getting ready, if he hasn’t already done so, make a new law that prohibits private contractors from doing this.

    And last, you have American businesses continuing to do business in China, yet, they are trying to turn the citizens of the U.S. against China by telling us to buy American made products, when in fact, even if we did, most of the parts, or ingredients, and/or shipping and packaging is done in other countries – some in China. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there, these same people tell China that they need to hire white Americans in order to promote their products/businesses. So, go figure!

    With this, I rest my case, there are no loyalties!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “I have not seen any mention of Jimmy Hoffa calling Republican sons of bitches and his desire to take them out. When is this organization ever going to stop being biased?”

    Awww, the wittle conservative is upset at the name calling, and wants to impose his political correctness on everyone! Tell me, do we REALLY need to try to stack up right-wing violent rhetoric to the…the…well I’m not going to call them left wing but Democrats’?

  • truth

    are they really “Sikhs” when Sikh religion states you should not consume or sell alcohol cigarettes

  • skinnyminny

    rroberts,
    ROTFLMAO! Jimmy Hoffa did not issue a physical threat, if that is what you’re implying. He was talking about voting them out of office. Here’s examples of some I do consider to have made threats: Sharon Angle, saying using 2nd amendment remedies; Michelle saying, I want them armed and dangerous; Allen West, some of his campaign gatherings with speech same or identical to Sharon Angle; Sarah Palin, don’t retreat, reload; political groups showing up with guns…

    Now, because some on the ‘right’ find it offensive for the left to dare get angry or to fight back at the ballot box, they (right) want to label him (Hoffa) ‘a union thug!’ Oh, so I guess some of the people/incidents I’ve mentioned above are just good ol’ patriotic Americans, huh! Even if they tend to outright intimidate, scare the hell out of people (which, since we’re talking about this, is a crime when you have weapons and a the other person is scared – it’s in the penal code, look it up – you constitionalists. You don’t have to use a weapon, just having one and the other person is scared is a crime. Better yet, if a man is in an argument with a woman, the law goes against the man big time if the woman is of small stature as opposed to the man, likewise a parent-child dispute. LOL!), or sometimes cause people that hear voices to act, which the right quickly and completely dismisses as they had nothing to do with.

  • A.D.M.

    Daljeet Singh Sidhu, the writer is not saying violence against Sikhs are okay if Sikhs are mistaken for Muslims. Read it again.

    Rroberts, maybe you don’t know this, but in politics, name calling is always committed. Just ask those who call President Obama a Kenyan socialist Muslim. By the way, did you watch the whole video? He said in the beginning, “Everybody’s gotta vote.”

  • Bukko Canucko

    Not that any further proof of their stupidity is needed, but if the arsonists knew anything about Sikhs, they’d know that they are on the same side when it comes to hating on Muslims. (Not that there’s anything right with that…)

    Sikhism was founded in part as a reaction to the Muslim Moghul oppression of the Indian subcontinent. I work with a couple male Sikh nurses, one who served in the Singaporean army — did you know they send their troops all over Southeast Asia to fight against various insurrections? — and one who was a lieutenant in the Indian border guards. They both tell some blood-curdling tales of cruelty toward Muslim guerillas.

    The Indian Sikh delights in stories like how his commander captured two Islamic infiltrators in Punjab, hung them upside down from a tree, slashed their bodies, literally put salt in the wounds and then set them on fire. This guy chuckles when he recounts how the fat dripped down off their bodies as they burned alive. Yeah, Tarheel dumbarses, you might have attacked some of your partners in hate.

  • http://www.sikhcomics.com Daljeet Singh Sidhu

    Violence against any community is a crime… This article makes it sound as if it is wrong only if Sikhs are mistaken for Muslims. Anyway, It is unfortunate that Sikhs continue to be targets of hate violence around the world in retaliation to terrorism perpetrated by al qaeda and other misguided terrorists organizations. Sikhs have made some effort to educate the world about their unique identity, values and philosophy but more needs to be done. Aligned with this goal is the SikhComics project started early this year. Aim is to publish illustrated colour comic books based on Sikh history; that are easy and quick read and a great primer to understand the Sikhs. They are currently available at http://www.sikhcomic?s.com

  • Jack

    If having a Federal Hate Crime Law was left up to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Herr Richard Land, head of their “ethics” & religious “liberty” comm , we wouldn’t have a Federal Hate Crime Law with which the Feds could come in and rescue a case from “locals” who maybe can’t “afford ” to prosecute ! Does thinking like that pack their churches or is Land perhaps just ” loosing it ” .

  • skinnyminny

    S. Singh,
    The documentary I’ve been listing for people to view may interest you as well. It is called, “thunder in guyana.” It is about an American woman (white) who met and married a guy of Indian descent. She moved to Guyana. The Americans began to call her a traitor and communist. This followed by congressional hearings. Following this, they burned down houses, caused race riots in Guyana, pitting the blacks against the people from Indian (Indian descent), this was also done to control the elections. Present day Caribbean, there’s still a big divide between blacks and Indians – this is really, or most noticeable in Trinidad.

    To your response, ‘this nation needs to address the ignorance and bigotry…’ It may be a little too late. The drum beat started with ‘illegal aliens’ meaning to demean immigrants of Latino heritage, or from Latin American countries. Then they started on the Prez with ‘he’s Muslim, and he must present a birth certificate…’ No one is asking Willard (Mitt) for a birth certificate. Then they started on immigrants from Spanish speaking countries, ‘they must speak English,’ which is not true, because Puerto Rico is a Spanish speaking territory (commonwealth of U.S.).

    It has been over 10 years of publicly ridiculing minorities, this includes politicians, television media…so until every one, especially minorities, find that they are all in the same boat and stay divided because one group tend to want to think they are in a better position than the other, or accepted over the other minority group, this will continue. I say it like this because it’s true, it’s all about flavor of the month. To explain this, the first known group of women employees in this country were white that worked in sewing factories. Blacks replaced the white women. Asians (meaning Chinese, probably Korean) replaced black women. Latino women replaced Asian women.

    The recent construction industry – looked at what happened, most black/white/latino Americans were replaced by cheap foreign labor. That again explains the flavor of the month thing.

    Just so you’ll know. It has nothing to do with education, it has to do with who has money, who has power – when you are a minority, it is about what do they want from you, period.

  • rroberts

    I have not seen any mention of Jimmy Hoffa calling Republican sons of bitches and his desire to take them out. When is this organization ever going to stop being biased?

  • labman57

    Guilt by association is bad enough, but these clowns are determined to persecute innocent people based on the premise of guilt by general resemblance. Their irrational, violence-prone behavior is the result of their inherent bigotry toward anyone who differs from themselves in language, religion, culture, appearance, political ideology, and/or lifestyle choice.

  • S. Singh

    The problem yet again is deep ignorance. It does not matter that they are Muslim or Sikh. It does not matter that they are of ‘foreign’ origin (what an appalling statement by the Sheriff!) . In fact it does not even matter if they are in the USA illegally. All people in the USA have the right to justice and treated as humans. Those who are grossly ignorant and attack other humans with violence need to be brought to the same justice that serves the whole nation. This nation needs to address the ignorance and bigotry by supporting “Education, education, education”.

  • skinnyminny

    Ruslan,
    Here is a reason why we, in America, shouldn’t jump the bandwagon and target people of ethnic groups for the crimes of others, let’s just say, innocent people http://hurryupharry.org/2011/0.....niversary/ in this, apparently the group Muslims against Crusades had on their website a reconstruction of twin towers with the slogan ‘you lost the war,’ and allegedly says they plan to protest at the London site against us. ***they know this is a sticky/hurtful/painful event for us, yet, they obviously know how to push buttons. With this, the EDL plans to counter-protest this event. I don’t see any good coming out of this for either side.

  • G. Singh

    I am really surprised and disturbed by the comment made by the Sheriff, “These are foreigners that run that place, you know.” It looks to me that Sheriff needs some history lessons on Sikhism: who they and when they migrate to this great country? Sikhs have made so many sacrifices for the independence of India and the same thing they can do proudly for America if Sikhs are recruited in armed forces in America rather than to target these mistaken people for hate crimes. Thanks a lot for bringing this burning isse of hate crimes in our country to public notice!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Skinny, practicing Sikh males wear turbans over their hair. Ignorant people tend to assume that only Muslims wear turbans, despite the fact that Muslims are not only not required to wear them, but they have little need to do so in the US.

  • James

    Wow, some ignoramus who thinks all brown people are all the same bravely commits a crime in the middle of the night. Hope their next act is to win a darwin award before they actually hurt someone.

  • frightened_peasant

    @Jay, we aren’t all as clueless as these people were. I’ve known a handful of Sikhs and they were all wonderful people.

  • skinnyminny

    Wow! The comment that causes concern is by the Sheriff, “These are foreigners that run that place, you know.”

    This is a cause for concern, because, how does he know they are foreigners! The last name Singh is a male last name common among Sikh. Regardless if they have an Indian accent, it doesn’t mean they are foreign and not American. Oh, and something the Sheriff should know, different countries/religions wear different color turbans.

    This is why I always say, you can’t look at a person and determine where they are from, i.e., some people in Pakistan are of Indian descent and sound (accent) like some of the people of India. I am mentioning this, because again, people think everyone, or at least think everyone from Latin America are Mexican.

  • Beckster

    Even if the attack was aimed at Muslims, it is still a hate crime and still unacceptable. The article makes it sound as though it would have been less egregious if the owners had been Muslim.

  • Jay Singh

    Thank you so much for the wonderful work you all do. I feel no discomfort in speaking for all Sikhs when I say that we appreciate SPLC as the erstwhile defender against hate and intolerance that it is.

  • Angelina

    The title makes it seem as though the attackers were Sikh. I suggest a rewrite.