Inderjit Singh Mukker, a Sikh man in Chicago, was attacked Tuesday in what many think is a hate crime after his attacker allegedly called him "Bin Laden" and told him to "Go back to your country."
The attack on Mukker, a U.S. citizen who lives in Darien, Illinois, is being investigated by authorities, who said it appears to have stemmed from a road rage incident, the Chicago Tribune reported
. A 17-year-old suspect has been identified by police.
The incident happened on Tuesday, when two men in separate vehicles reportedly had a "traffic altercation," Darien Police Chief Ernest Brown told the Tribune. When one driver pulled in front of the other and stopped, one man got out and hit the other in the face.
The Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group, gave more details to the Tribune, saying that Mukker was repeatedly punched in the face through his car window and suffered a broken cheekbone in the attack.
Mukker's father, Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj, said at a press conference that the incident was "very frightening," and added that his son, a taxi driver, is a "peace-loving person."
The newspaper said the teenage suspect was identified thanks to a description given from Mukker and also a license plate number from the car he was driving. After speaking with police, who did not arrest him, the teen was reportedly hospitalized. Police did not say why that occurred, but Brown said charges would be filed once he is released.
Harsimran Kaur, a lawyer for Mukker, told the Tribune that wearing turbans "has become a lightning rod, but it signifies the exact opposite." Sikhs are not Muslims, Kaur said, and their faith encourages them to stand up for justice.
Violence against the Sikh community, combined with the tragic South Carolina shooting at a black church, convinced one Wisconsin Sikh temple to close its doors, forcing those attending services to knock in order to be let in, according to The Washington Post
. The temple was the site of a 2012 shooting in which a white supremacist killed six people.
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