At a press conference at Columbia University yesterday, Dr. Prabhjot Singh spoke about being attacked in Harlem on Saturday night by a group of teenagers on bikes who hurled slurs and mocked his appearance. “My lower jaw is fractured, and was wired yesterday by an oral surgeon. But as you can see, I’m here talking today,” Singh said. “I’m very thankful that it wasn’t any worse.”

The group of more than a dozen teens, ages 15-20, approached Singh, a Sikh, around 8:15 p.m. on Saturday at West 110th and Lenox Avenue. They allegedly shouted "Get Osama!" and "Terrorists!" before punching Singh in the face, tugging at his beard, and kicking him repeatedly.

The bystanders then came to his aide, while the suspects fled on their bikes. The incident is under investigation by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task force. Here's video of the suspects gathering before the attack:

“What happens to the people that did this is in [the NYPD’s] hands,” Singh said, adding that he would like to make sure that the assailants "have an opportunity to get past this as well.” If he could speak to his attackers, Singh says he would “ask them if they had any questions,” and “invite them to the Gurdwara where we [Sikhs] worship.”

Singh, a professor and physician, praised the bystanders who intervened in his attack. “I have an enormous degree of deep gratitude to those people who could have just walked by,” he said.

The press conference was hosted by SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund) and The Sikh Coalition. Brooke Salkoff, spokesperson at SALDEF, Jasjit Singh, executive director of SALDEF and friend of Prabhjot Singh, and Amardeep Singh, National Director of Programs at The Sikh Coalition, were also present to speak about the Sikhism and to raise awareness about the mistreatment the religion has experienced.

A study conducted by SALDEF and Stanford University shows that nearly half of Americans surveyed believe that the Sikh religion is a sect of Islam. The study also reports that, for the average American, the number one person associated with the image of the Sikh turban and beard is Osama Bin Laden.

“In the years after 9/11, our community has been disproportionately targeted. This community is no stranger to these types of incidents," said Jasjit Singh. “The sort of assault that Prabhjot Singh has faced is not something that we are terribly unfamiliar with.”

Amardeep Singh noted that over 20% of Sikh schoolchildren suffer violence as a “price for maintaining their Sikh identity," adding, “There is a combination of poor public policy, crude media stereotypes, and little education in our schools that led to what happened to Dr. Prabhjot Singh and what’s happening in the Sikh community.”

Dr. Singh, who practices medicine in Harlem, is keen on not allowing the incident to change his routine. “My work is dearly important to me, and, as soon as possible, I’d like to get back to it. I plan on seeing patients tomorrow.”