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Monday, October 22, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Beaten Sikh is out of the hospital

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Sikh owner of a SeaTac motel is out of the hospital with nine stitches in his head after a Friday attack that police are calling a hate crime. Meanwhile, a Sikh man from Kent is recovering from lesser injuries sustained in an attack Saturday.

Numerous well-wishers have called and stopped in at the SeaTac Crest Motor Inn, concerned about Karnail Singh, 47.

Two weeks before, Singh said, a man entered the motel and said to him, "You guys go back to your country. We are coming there to kick your ass." Then, about 8 a.m. Friday, the man returned while Singh was taking a phone call behind the counter.

"When he come in, first he asked me, 'You guys still here?' "

Singh said the man then struck him several times in the head with a cane, knocking him briefly unconscious.

King County sheriff's deputies arrested a 45-year-old man shortly afterward in the restroom of a restaurant, then booked him for investigation of second-degree assault. He gave a Seattle home address, but is well known for cadging coffee along the International Boulevard strip, police said.

After returning from prayer at his Sikh temple in Renton yesterday, Singh said, "Everybody's still scared" of being targeted for terrorist-related anger. "They say we better get together and get help from the media — exposure about our dress and our country and our religion."

Last month, a man allegedly called a Sikh cab driver in the same area a "butcher terrorist" before assaulting him.

And a witness reported hearing a teenage boy say, "I'm going to bomb on him," before assaulting another Sikh cab driver Saturday, Kent police said.

At 8 p.m., Rubinder Singh (no relation), 23, was crossing 64th Avenue and West James Place in Kent when a young man among five or six hit him in the face from behind, knocking him to the ground.

Police said they did an extensive check of the area but couldn't find the boy, whom witnesses guessed to be about 14 years old.

"It's just because of my skin color that they hit me," Singh said. He refused medical attention but said he suffered additional minor injuries in the fall.

About 15,000 Sikhs — members of a 500-year-old Indian faith — live in the state. Originally from Punjab, Karnail Singh is a U.S. citizen who has lived in the United States since 1985. He wears neither the long beard nor turban traditional among men of his religion.

"But I don't blame anybody. Maybe he's an illiterate, uneducated person," Singh said of his attacker.

Motel employee Reva Poston said of well-wishers: "He's had guests call that have stayed here, and it's just been so nice.

"They say, 'Please let him know not all Americans are like that. We're appalled, we're horrified, and we hope he's doing well.' It makes you proud to be an American the way people are responding," she said.

Mark Rahner can be reached at 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com.

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