As police in Loudon County continue to investigate a hate crime involving death threats against a family who practices the Sikh religious faith, one member of the family is speaking out
This man, who wants to remain unnamed because he fears for the safety of his family, is not unlike any other member of his faith. He wears full beard and wears a turban proudly. But a quiet sadness about the hate heaped upon him and his family is pervasive in his demeanor.
"It's worrisome … very worrisome," he says.
A letter was sent to his home this week addressed to "The Turban Family." The letter accuses the parents, grandparents and children of being members of the Taliban. The letter reads, in part; "We ask you to leave the country as soon as possible, otherwise one of our people is going to shoot you dead."
The family has been the target of previous hate crimes, first in 2003, while living in Gaithersburg, Md. when their home was vandalized with graffiti. They experienced hatred again in 2005, receiving two more death threats by mail after moving to Leesburg, Va.
The man remembers some of the previous threats: "'We will kill you, we will sell your children in Cuba, and tie up your women with your turbans,'" he says. "It was hard on us.”
Jusjit Singh, Executive Director of the Sikh-American Legal Defense and Education Fund says families of this faith are targeted when individuals confuse articles of faith from their Sikh religion with those of militant terrorist groups -- most notably the turban worn by Sikh men.
"The turban represents a commitment to social justice to religious freedom, to diversity and upholding the values of our faith that we hold so dear," Singh says. "And in fact, those ideals align very closely with American ideals."
Loudoun county supervisor Eugene Delgardio, who has been criticized in the past for positions he taken in regard to immigration, says the crime won't be tolerated.
"It is clearly a prejudicial act to threaten someone based on what they’re wearing," he says. "I whole heartedly condemn the attack on someone for their obvious religious beliefs."
The FBI has launched a joint investigation with the county sheriff’s office.