President-elect Donald Trump’s rise to political prominence has produced a shockwave throughout the country, including in his home borough of Queens.
It has also inspired a wave of hate crimes and hate speech, including against Muslim and South Asian Americans. Harpreet Singh Toor of the Sikh Cultural Society joined elected officials this week to condemn those actions.
“When they talk about making America great again, America is already great,” he said.
Toor has held the posts of president and chairman of the Richmond Hill-based Sikh Cultural Society, which offers Sikhs in Queens a space to pray and youth to learn the Punjabi language and participate in athletic and cultural activities.
Toor also ran for the City Council in 2010, falling short against current Councilman Ruben Wills. The district in rich in diversity, boasting large populations of South Asians, African Americans and Hispanic residents.
“We’re living in this county where we have people from 168 countries,” Toor said. “We get along, we have no issues. So why is this issue being created in this great and wonderful country?
“What’s bothering minorities is people being targeted because of their race, their color, their appearance,’ he added. “This is something which cannot and should not be tolerated.”
Gathered with leaders in the Muslim and Jewish communities, Toor said he wanted to send the message that everybody, regardless of religion or background, should be respected.
“Please respect everybody the way you want to be respected,” he said. “At any point and at any place, just because somebody looks different from you should not be a target of any hate or attacks. It is a crucial time and the message needs to be sent.”