Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

'Isis' tag on Hamilton Sikh's billboard frightens family

Yugraj Singh Mahil's campaign to nab a seat on the Hamilton City Council's east ward was going well until 
one of his billboards was tagged with the word 'Isis'. Photo / Supplied
Yugraj Singh Mahil's campaign to nab a seat on the Hamilton City Council's east ward was going well until one of his billboards was tagged with the word 'Isis'. Photo / Supplied

A Hamilton Sikh and council candidate says he and his family are shocked and disgusted after his billboard was tagged with the word "Isis".

Yugraj Singh Mahil is a first-timer trying to nab a seat on the Hamilton City Council's east ward.

He said the campaign had been going well until he received news on social media that one of his billboards, on the corner of Vesty Ave and Carrington Ave, in the suburb of Hillcrest, was graffitied with the word "Isis".

Mahil says his wife is now too scared to leave the house while his two daughters are also horrified.

"My daughter and my wife got really upset ... my wife is a little bit worried about going outside so we try to be safe and don't go out at night, but still I have to go out and want to give this my best shot."

He says the graffiti is "disgraceful and disrespectful".

"It means the whole community gets shocked, all of the Sikh community. I have been receiving calls from various Sikh leaders that this is bad and we have to make a noise about it and raise awareness."

His oldest daughter is 17 and was born in Hamilton, while his other daughter is 5.

"We have never faced this sort of issue before."

However, the confusion between Sikhs and Muslims was a common issue around the world, he said.

"Mostly people can't identify the difference between us. They just see the same turban and go 'these must be Islamic people' but we are Sikh, we are a different religion. That commonly is the biggest problem, I think worldwide, all of the Sikhs are facing this."

Mahil said to make his family's angst worse, he had heard of an incident in the United States where a Sikh was mistaken for a Muslim and shot and killed.

"So we have to identify ourselves, and make sure people don't mix us up with Muslims."

Mahil, who is the former president of the Hamilton Sikh Society, says he's been so aware of the confusion he organised for the Sikh community to have a float in Hamilton's Christmas parade in 2006.

"The whole purpose was to make people know... we are peace-minded people we respect all other religions."

He says although he is shaken he will give the campaign his "best and carry on".

- NZ Herald

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