A 13-year-old Syosset teenager joined others in a peace rally on Saturday after being the victim of a hate crime last month.
Chaz Bedi says he has already been teased about his Sikh turban. However, he says he was physically attacked by other teenagers who followed him to the Walt Whitman Mall last month.
“One of the children from the group who used to call me ‘Mohamed’ rushes up to me and hits me in the face without warning,” he said.
Nassau police later arrested the suspect teenager and charged him with aggravated harassment.
Chaz and held a peace rally in Hicksville on Saturday with members of other religious and ethnic groups to end the hatred.
“Together with strength we can open closed minds with peace, love and unity, we can all make a difference in our world today,” said Chaz.
The rally comes as there is a growing wave of assaults against ethnic minorities across the country, including members of the South Asian community.
“Our strength is in our diversity – the fact that everyone is different is what makes us great, but we have so much more in common,” says Joseph Saladino, Supervisor of Oyster Bay Town.
Chaz says he hopes other young people like the teenager who allegedly assaulted him actually come to an event like this so they can learn about other people and cultures.
“It would be much better if he really learned about other cultures and minorities,” he says.
Chaz’s father, Satbir Singh, says he was crushed that his son had been the victim of a hate crime. He adds that he is proud to stand up and say that this is not acceptable and that we as a people must come together.
“I take this as a positive… God gave us the opportunity to speak up and say love and oneness and learn,” Singh says.
Nassau police did not release the name of the accused boy because he is 13 years old.