Sikh Columbia professor beaten in apparent hate crime

Prabhjot Singh, a professor at Columbia University, was beaten in an apparent hate crime Saturday night.  Credit: Columbia University
Prabhjot Singh, a professor at Columbia University, was beaten in an apparent hate crime Saturday night.
Credit: Columbia University

A Columbia professor was beaten on the Upper West Side in an apparent hate crime Saturday night.

Prabhjot Singh, 31, is a Sikh. He wears a turban and has a beard in accordance with his faith.

The attack occurred about 8 p.m. on the sidewalk opposite 131 W. 11oth St. on the northern edge of Central Park, police said. Singh, who was walking with his brother, told police he heard a male voice yell, “Get him,” “terrorist” and “Osama.” He turned around and saw about 15-20 youths on bicycles, police said.

One of his attackers, who police said Singh described as a black male with big hair, came up to Singh from behind and yanked on his beard. As the group rode past him, they hit him several times, police said.

Singh reportedly began to run west on 110th Street. The group caught up with him and punched and kicked him several times before fleeing northbound on Seventh Avenue. Police said Singh was rescued by an anonymous good Samaritan.

Singh reportedly told police he was hit four to six times. He said he could not identify his assailants in person.

Singh was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and treated for a gash to his lip and a possible fracture to his lower jaw.

Police canvassed the scene and found a surveillance camera at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue which they said shows Singh, his brother and a group of bicyclists. The actual attack, however, happened out of the camera’s view.

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident.

Video was also captured of another bias-based attack earlier that day on a Muslim woman in Times Square.

About Prabhjot Singh

Singh is an assistant professor in the International and Public Affairs department at Columbia University and a practicing medical doctor in East Harlem.

In August, Singh co-wrote a blog post for Washington, D.C.-based publication The Hill pushing for Sikhs to be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Because of military regulations, Singh explained,  Sikhs must choose between keeping the beards and turbans that are integral parts of their faith, and serving their country. Singh argued that welcoming Sikhs into the military would prevent tragedies such as the one in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, about a year ago, in which a former Marine-turned-Neo Nazi opened fire on a group of Sikhs singing a song about a universal unifying force.

Earlier this summer, while working at the VA Hospital, Singh tweeted:

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