CAIRO - A Washington bearded Sikh taxi driver was viciously attacked by a passenger who was shouting anti-Muslim slurs, reflecting growing Islamophobia in the American society.
Two witnesses saw the attack which was described as savage, and the defendant continued his tirade after officers arrived, Deputy Prosecutor Gretchen Holmgren told the court, Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.
The attack occurred on October 17 when Auburn police called a cab to pick up Jamie W. Larson, who was apparently too intoxicated to drive or walk.
According to charging documents submitted by King County prosecutors, the drive picked Larson from police station to drive him to his Federal Way home.
During the ride, Larson began questioning the driver about his turban.
Larson then attacked the driver while making anti-Muslim comments, a Federal Way detective told the court.
The driver was able to stop the car in the 1200 block of Southwest 301st Street, where police found him injured and Larson attempting to return to the parked taxi.
Even after police arrived, Larson continued making bigoted comments about the driver, an immigrant from India.
According to police, Larson referred to him derisively as Iranian and Iraqi, and used several anti-Arab slurs before also using an anti-gay slur.
We have Americans fighting overseas in his country and why doesn't he go back to there? Larson allegedly asked officers at the scene.
Police report the attack left the driver, who was taken to a hospital, dazed and with a loose tooth.
Larson was arrested at the scene and has since been charged with malicious harassment under Washington's hate crime statute.
He remains jailed on $60,000 bail.
Prosecutors confirmed that the racist attack were not only hateful but based on his misperception of the driver's heritage.
Officers noted that (the driver), a follower of the Sikhism religion, wore a turban headdress, kirpana, kara and a Kanga; items that symbolize (his) religion, the detective told the court.
The United States is home to about 500,000 Sikhs, nearly all of Indian origin.
The men are easily identifiable by their beards and turbans, a tradition that has lasted for 500 years.
Sikhs are obliged to wear five symbols at all times, including turbans and no hair cut (for adult males) and iron bracelet; Kara (for women).
According to Sikhism, such symbols are worn for identification and representation of the ideals of Sikhism.
The attack on the sick taxi driver is not the first by anti-Muslim racists.
Since the 9/11 attacks, Sikhs have sometimes been confused publicly with Muslims because of their turban headdress and beards.
At least seven people were killed when a gunman attacked people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last August.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to seven million, have strongly condemned the shooting, expressing solidarity with Sikhs.