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Sikh store clerk attacked, called al-Qaida

Aug. 31, 2010 at 9:18 PM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A 35-year-old Seattle man has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly attacking a convenience store clerk he accused of being "al-Qaida," prosecutors said.

Brock Stainbrook faces charges of fourth-degree assault and malicious harassment under Washington state's hate crime law in the alleged Aug. 24 attack, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Tuesday.

"For unknown reasons a person threw change on the floor near the victim's feet then punched the victim on the left side of the head," an investigator wrote in a police report. "After the suspect struck (the clerk) with his fist he said, 'You're not even American, you're (al-Qaida). Go back to your country.'"

Police said the suspect tried to kick another store employee who forced the suspect out of the store, the online newspaper said.

King County prosecutors said Stainbrook targeted the alleged victim because the store clerk was wearing a dataar, a kind of turban. The alleged victim is a Sikh, not a Muslim.

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund Managing Director Kavneet Singh issued a statement Tuesday blaming the attack on bias against Muslims and immigrants, the newspaper reported.

"These crimes based on the perceived race, ethnicity, or religion of the victim cannot be tolerated," Singh said. "Unfortunately, the anti-Muslim bias and nativist feelings that motivates these attacks are based on a premise that runs counter to the fundamental freedoms and liberties that our nation was founded upon."

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