Photo: Rabblefish (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Photo: Rabblefish (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Two very sad news articles involving South Asians in the US and Canada caught my attention this evening. A woman in New York City allegedly pushed an Indian immigrant man off of a train platform and onto the tracks, where he was crushed by an oncoming train. The woman told police:

“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.”

She was arrested and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime.

On Twitter, Piali Roy said that this incident reminded her of an incident from Toronto in the 1970s, when a South Asian man was pushed in front of an oncoming train there. This coincided with a rise in “Paki-bashing” when the arrival of South Asians expelled from Uganda made all South Asians more visible in the city:

In unrelated news, New Jersey resident Sabreena Shabdeen and her family are scheduled for deportation; she to her birthplace of Canada and her parents to their homeland of Sri Lanka. This is much like Steve Li’s case from last year, except that Sabreena is a severely autistic minor.

She can barely speak and, according to medical reports, is prone to “aggressive, agitative and assaultive” behaviour. But she is a Canadian. And her parents, Kairun and Mohamed Shabdeen, believe Canada offers her a better chance of a decent life than Sri Lanka, the country to which they are about to be deported.

Canada will not allow Sabreena’s parents to move there to take care of her. The Shabdeens were denied political asylum in Canada; Sabreena was born there while they were awaiting the decision. Sri Lanka does not have the medical infrastructure to give Sabreena the care she needs. The country may even deny Sabreena the privilege of settlement because she is a foreign national with a severe disability.

Astoundingly, a representative of Citizenship and Immigration Canada wrote to the Shabdeens:

“I am not satisfied there is sufficient evidence your need to enter Canada is compelling enough to warrant issuing a temporary resident permit.”

If taking care of your Canadian citizen daughter with special needs is not “compelling enough,” then what is? Separating a severely disabled child from her family is morally unjustifiable. The Canadian immigration authorities should be ashamed of themselves for this, as well as for their draconian changes to refugee policy this year.


  1. The first incident is so sad.
    When will we all be able to see that despite our differences, we are all humans under the skin and aside from our cultural baggage?
    It’s only when we can see that “the other” is also ourself, that we can rid the world of all this discrimination.
    How can we do that?
    Does holding on to our Asian American identities help or hinder this?
    I wonder…

  2. tshams

    I have so many questions though. Why is the woman so hateful toward Hindus? She contextualizes her hatred as a reaction post 9/11 but that doesn’t make sense to me unless she is talking specifically about sikhs who are often mistaken as Muslims because of Sikh men’s beard and turban. But that would mean that it’s a perception error as the hatred is actually targeted towards Muslims and not Hindus. Also, “Paki-Bashing”–is that a legit word now? I haven’t heard of that before. Interesting how “Pakistani” seems to be a kind of code word for Muslim *and* South-Asian.






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