Saturday, March 08, 2008

Pakistani Faces 4 Years In Jail For Cutting Sikh's Hair

An 18-year-old Pakistani has been convicted of hate crime charges by a jury for forcibly cutting a Sikh student's hair in a US school.

Umair Ahmed faces up to four years in prison for cutting 15-year-old Harpal Vacher's hair with a small pair of folding scissors after threatening him on May 24, 2007.

"The defendant has been convicted of a serious attack on the fundamental beliefs of his victims religion and his freedom to worship freely," Queens district attorney Richard A Brown said.

Crimes of hate will never be tolerated in Queens County, in particular the most culturally diverse county in the nation, he was quoted as saying by the north country gazette.

Ahmed was convicted by the jury of second-degree menacing as a hate crime, second-degree coercion as a hate crime, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and third-degree harassment.

Brown said that, according to the evidence, Ahmed approached Vacher inside the lunchroom and stated that the only way he would forgive the victim is if Ahmed cut his hair.

Vacher said "For what? It is against my religion."

Ahmed then took his ring and said that if the victim didn't go with him he would punch the victim with his ring, the gazette reported. He ordered Vacher to go to the bathroom or he would get him after school, cut his hair and send him home naked to his parents.

Ahmed then got a small pair of folding scissors from another student, took Vacher into the bathroom and cut his hair after forcing him to remove his turban. He was arrested by New York Police Department's School Safety Division.

Ahmed will be sentenced on April 11 by Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld. (DNA)
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