Mich. man ordered to study history of Hindusim after hate crime conviction

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Brahma, Banteay Srei style, Musée Guimet-Paris
Brahma, Banteay Srei style, Musée Guimet-Paris

A man who assaulted two men because he thought they were Muslims and was then ordered to write a report on the cultural contributions of Islam has a new assignment — to write a report on the history of Hinduism.

Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran on Monday sentenced Delane D. Bell, 26, to two years of probation, with the condition that he pen a 10-page report on Hinduism, the world’s third largest religion.

Last March, Bell pleaded no contest to a two-year felony count of ethnic intimidation, stemming from an incident that occurred on Nov. 26, 2011. At that time, Bell was standing outside a bar when he yelled “jihad” and “Osama bin Laden” at two men of Indian descent. He then punched one of the men and struck the other’s car.

When Bell entered his plea, Sheeran ordered him to write a 10-page report on “the greatest accomplishments of Muslims.”

“Well, do you have another report in you?” Sheeran asked a orange jumpsuit-clad Bell on Monday (Sept. 24).

“If I have to do it, I’ll do it,” Bell replied.

“Do you know why I’ve assigned you these reports?”

“Not really.”

“You don’t have any idea at all?”

“I have an idea,” Bell demurely replied.

The judge said Bell had been convicted of attacking two men he wrongly assumed were Muslims. He added that the victims in the case were actually Hindus. “I want you to educate yourself on the accomplishments of their actual ethnic and religious backgrounds,” Sheeran told Bell.

Bell was back in court for sentencing after pleading no contest to charges of breaking into his sister's house while on bond for the ethnic intimidation charges. The judge granted Bell credit for time served and waived future jail time in exchange for the Hinduism paper.

The judge added that he expects more from this report than what Bell rendered in his first paper. “Do you know what plagiarism is?” Sheeran asked Bell.

“Yes, your honor,” Bell replied.

“It’s pretty much here in your first report,” the judge said, adding he’d like to see some more original thought in his report on the ancient Indian religion.

Bell’s report is due in one month to his probation officer.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service.

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