NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — His turban and long beard have made Simran Jeet Singh the target of racism on his daily runs.

“Typically, sort of Islamophobic comments,” the Columbia University doctoral student told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “You know, people will call me Osama or call me a terrorist.”

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As a result, Singh helped form Surat Fauj, a running club for Sikhs, in part, “to help normalize and humanize people who look like us,” he said.

“Rather than seeing us as an other or an outsider, people start seeing us as part of the fabric of this nation,” said Singh, who is among 35 Sikhs running in Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon.

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John Hanc wrote a profile on Singh’s group in the November edition of Runner’s World magazine.

“They’re very proud of being Sikhs, and they’re very proud to be part of the running movement,” Hanc said. “I said earlier how much they’ve embraced it. And they proclaim it, too.”

The Sikh community did not always embrace running, Hanc said.

“They were too busy sort of working and establishing themselves in America,” he said.

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