CTV Exclusive: Sikh man viciously attacked in Quebec City
Josh Elliott and Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, April 1, 2016 2:48PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 1, 2016 10:06PM EDT
A Toronto-area Sikh man says he was verbally abused and beaten while vacationing in Quebec City by a group of men who targeted him because of his brown skin and turban.
Supninder Singh Khehra is still recovering after he was punched in the face and kicked last Saturday by seemingly drunk strangers, whose attack was recorded on video.
Khehra said he was out with friends after dark and trying to hail a cab when a car full of men approached and started shouting at him in French, swearing and pointing at his turban.
Video of the incident shows Khehra turning to ignore the men’s verbal insults before they get out of the car.
Khehra said he was punched in the eye and fell to the ground, where he was kicked repeatedly. He said his turban “went flying off.”
“It was all because of my race, my colour and the headgear I was wearing,” he said.
In the video, a police car can be seen rolling up moments after Khehra is thrown to the ground. The attackers can be seen running back to their vehicle when the police car arrives.
Khehra said the incident has left him feeling saddened.
“I’m really worried about the safety and wellbeing of young kids of my community who wear turbans,” he said.
Khehra added that it has been especially hard to cope without his wife and parents, who are in India.
Still, Khehra said “it means a lot” that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on the incident.
Trudeau told reporters in Washington, D.C., that such “hateful acts” have “no place in Canada.”
“We stand clearly against the kind of discrimination and intolerance that that represents,” the prime minister said.
Khehra also said he is heartened by an outpouring of support on social media, since CTV News first reported the story.
“It clearly shows that we stand together and this is the real Canada,” he added.
Khehra won’t be deterred from expressing his religion, either. “I will keep wearing my turban, and I am proud to wear a turban,” he said.
Khehra expressed frustration by what he sees as a lack of public condemnation from Quebec’s leaders so far.
Quebec’s Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Kathleen Weil was not available for an interview but provided a written statement that said “racist or xenophobic abuses … are not representative of Quebec’s values.”
Khehra said he is also frustrated by a seemingly slow investigation by Quebec City police, who said Friday that they hadn’t yet seen the video Khehra supplied immediately after the incident.
Police said two men were arrested after the incident. One was let go without a charge. The other, a 22-year-old, faces charges of assault and uttering threats to a police officer. They said they are still investigating and more charges are possible.
Jaskaran Sandhu, a director of the World Sikh Organization Canada, said he believes the men should be charged. He added he is “positive that the Canadian society … will come together and say that this is completely against the fabric of this country.”
With files from CTV Toronto and a report from CTV National News Reporter Peter Akman