Sikh man beaten as assailants shout ‘cut his hair’

A Richmond man identifying as Sikh was attacked Sept. 25 in what he describes as a violent hate crime, the Sikh Coalition said Friday.

Maan Singh Khalsa, 41, was driving home from work at 9 p.m. when he was stopped at a red light near Hilltop Mall Drive in Richmond, half a mile from his home, according to the Sikh Coalition.

A man in a white Ford F-150 threw a beer can at Khalsa’s car, unprovoked by Khalsa. Khalsa rolled down his window and saw five or six white men in their late 20s or early 30s in the Ford.

The men began swearing at him, and Khalsa called 911. Three men approached his car, attacking him through the open window, knocking off his Sikh turban and hitting him in the face, according to the Sikh Coalition.

Khalsa’s assailants reportedly shouted “Cut his hair,” yanked his head through the car window by the hair, and cut his hair with a knife. Sikhs do not cut their hair as a religious mandate.

The shouts are audible on the 911 call recording, according to the Sikh Coalition.

Khalsa needed stitches on the cuts on his fingers and hands. He also had a swollen black eye, and will have to get root canals due to dental damage sustained in the attack, according to the Sikh Coalition.

Two suspects have been arrested. A third assailant and two remaining accomplices have not been apprehended.

Khalsa is a U.S. citizen and has lived in Contra Costa County for seven years, according to the Sikh Coalition.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said in a statement:

“No one should have to experience the fear of being targeted or attacked based on their identity or for practicing their religion. … In Richmond, we cherish the various cultures and backgrounds that contribute to our great diversity. I know the people of Richmond will respond to this incident in any way they can to lend support and show solidarity with the Sikh community.”

Gurdwara Shaib, the Sikh house of worship in nearby El Sobrante, has a congregation of more than 5,000 members.

One in 10 Bay Area Sikhs surveyed in 2010 reported being the victim of a hate crime, and 68 percent of these were physical attacks, according to the Sikh Coalition.