A TEENAGE Sikh paper-boy was scalped by Islamic extremists who cut his unshorn locks with scissors after ambushing him on his round.
Five youths hurled racist abuse at the 14 year-old victim before slashing his T-shirt and cutting his three-foot long hair which he had been growing since birth.
The racially motivated attack in Birmingham last month has heightened tensions between the two religious groups.
Last night community leaders from both sides appealed for calm after Sikh youths vowed revenge for the attack, which is considered a serious religious affront. The boy's family, who wish to remain anonymous, said that the incident had left him traumatised and afraid to go out.
His distraught mother told the Sunday Mercury: 'He has not been himself for weeks after the attack, which has left him with deep mental scars.
'He is lacking in confidence and is afraid that he will be targeted again. It is heartbreaking to see him in this state through no fault of his own except that he is a Sikh.
'Immediately after the attack he said he was in tears and said he did not want to grow it back.
'But he changed his mind when he realised that was exactly what his attackers wanted him to do. What hurts even more is that they took the hair with them.'
Keeping long hair (kesh) is a basic tenet of the Sikh religion and is one of the five Ks which the last Sikh guru Gobind Singh instructed his followers to adopt.
Last night Sikh community leaders said that the incident was another example of Sikhs being targeted by Islamic fundamentalists.
Last night Mohan Singh, President of the Stratford Road Sikh temple in Birmingham, said: 'Historically speaking, there has been some rivalry between Sikhs and Islam going back to the days of the Mughal empire in India.
'But Sikhs and Muslims have lived peacefully together in this country for years and this incident has come as a massive shock to the community. Long hair is a religious symbol of Sikhism and for it to be defiled in this way is considered a sacrilege.'
But he added: 'There is a tiny minority of Islamic extremists who deem their faith to be better than others and who are seeking to forcibly convert others.
'They are targeting people of all faiths, not just Sikhs.'
Amrik Desi, of the Sikh Youth and Community Service, warned Sikh youths not to retaliate but said that attacks on Birmingham's 60,000 Sikhs were increasing.
He said: 'After September 11 Sikhs were targeted because people saw our turbans and thought we were Afghan Taliban. Yet Sikhs are increasingly being attacked by Muslim zealots.
'The fear is that we will go back to the situation we had some 15 years ago when there was a lot of friction between Sikh and Muslim youths in the Midlands.
'What would help is the creation of racial harassment reporting centres which monitor inter-ethnic crime rather than just black and white incidents.' Tory Councillor for Aston Mr Gulfram Khan, a Muslim, said: 'The people who carried out this despicable attack cannot call themselves Muslims and my apologies go out to the family.'
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: 'We can confirm that a 14 year-old boy was the victim of a racially aggravated assault on July 21 in Stockdale Place, Edgbaston.
'He was attacked by five Asian males, one was 5ft 7ins aged about 17 and wearing a cream hooded top.
'Another was 5ft 8ins, thin, aged 17-18 and wearing a black jacket with McKenzie logo on the front and numbers and stripes on the sleeves.'