January 14, 2022 (New York, NY) — Today, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) confirmed that last night, Mohamed Hassanain was arrested for the January 3 attack on a Sikh taxi driver (identified only as “Mr. Singh” to preserve his anonymity) at JFK airport. The incident is being considered a hate crime, given that Hassanain shouted “go back to your country” and called the driver “turbaned people” in a derogatory manner while repeatedly punching and shoving him.
The driver, “Mr. Singh,” is still respectfully requesting to remain anonymous, so the Sikh Coalition is still not sharing his name, his photograph, or video footage of the attack itself.
“We are grateful to the Port Authority Police Department and Queens District Attorney’s Office for their prompt action on this case, and for recognizing that the attack on Mr. Singh included clear anti-Sikh bias,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director (she/her). “This case underscores the importance of sharing all of the details of these kinds of attacks with law enforcement. Holding perpetrators accountable for both their actions and their hateful motivations is the clearest way to show that bigotry, and the violence that it fuels, have no place in our communities.”
Mr. Singh gave the following statement to the Sikh Coalition to share with reporters and the wider community: “I am thankful to law enforcement, the Sikh Coalition, and all those in the community who have offered their strength in this difficult time. No one should experience what I did–but if they do, I hope they receive the same overwhelming amount of support and quick, professional action by the authorities in response.”
Hassanain is being charged with Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, Assault in the Third Degree, and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, and will be arraigned on Saturday, January 15. In the meantime, the Sikh Coalition will continue to stay engaged on this case. As we did in the aftermath of the attack, we will continue to assist Mr. Singh in his correspondence with law enforcement and ensure that all relevant details are conveyed between all parties. Additionally, we are grateful for the support of the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force in this case.
In the Sikh Coalition’s experience, taxi and rideshare drivers from our community are at a heightened risk of hateful assault. In recent years, we have provided free legal aid to multiple Sikh drivers like Mr. Singh who were attacked in various places across the country. Accordingly, we continue to provide know-your-rights resources proactively to help the community stay safe. If you or someone you know has experienced bigotry–violent or otherwise–be sure to contact our legal team for free help.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.