A Sikh man says he was attacked and told to “go back to [his] country” in an incident that police in California are investigating as a hate crime.

Surjit Malhi, 50, told Sacramento’s CBS13 that he was beaten last week by two men, who also allegedly spray-painted his truck with hate symbols, while he was posting campaign signs in support of Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamCrazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Polling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race MORE (R-Calif.) in Stanislaus County.

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Malhi told the CBS affiliate that the men threw sand in his eyes and brutally beat him in the head, shoulders and neck, while shouting: “Go back to your country!”

“It’s very scary, you know,” he said, adding that he thought “they were going to shoot me.”

Malhi told the station that his turban softened the blows and may have saved his life.

Malhi is a well-known member of the community, has raised thousands of dollars for charity and is a politically involved, active supporter of the local Republican Party, according to CBS13.

“I’m American 100 percent, no doubt, so they say, go back to my country? This is my country,” he said. “If you are a real American and you love America, you should not do that. That is not the American way.”