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South Asians face increasingly hostile climate in US, says report

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Washington, Sep 10 (IANS) South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities face an increasingly hostile climate in the US, according to a new report by an umbrella community organisation.

The report “Under Suspicion, Under Attack” by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) was released at a briefing on Capitol Hill, seat of the US Congress, here Tuesday. It documents over 150 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric by political figures and government officials that occurred nationwide from January 2011 through April 2014.

The analysis found a 40 percent annual average increase in xenophobic political comments since SAALT’s last analysis, released in 2010.

While numerous hate violence incidents frequently go unreported, Under Suspicion, Under Attack tracked nearly 80 incidents in communities nationwide, with an overwhelming share animated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

Hate violence ‘hot spots’ included the New York City/New Jersey metropolitan area; Chicago and its outlying suburbs; and Southern and Northern California.

“Thirteen years after the tragic events of 9/11, we saw consistently high numbers of hate violence incidents and a surge in xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities, portraying them as un-American, unwelcome, and disloyal,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.

“Disturbingly, over 80 percent of documented hate violence incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment,” she said.

“Similarly, an overwhelming majority—-over 90 percent—-of xenophobic political comments were characterized by anti-Muslim bias.”

“As a result, many in our communities are living in escalating fear,” Raghunathan said.

“Community members are being sent a message that we are unwelcome even in our most sacred spaces-a message that stands contrary to our nation’s core values.”

“Our communities have endured a sustained and even escalating backlash after 9/11, crystallised by hate violence,” said Linda Sarsour, Senior Strategist for the Take on Hate Campaign and Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York.

“Take on Hate uses education, media, and coalition building in an effort to challenge discrimination and bigotry and move us closer to a nation that upholds equality and dignity for all,” she said.

“This report not only highlights the problems facing our communities, it points to ‘better practices’ as models for coalition-building and organizing,” said Fahd Ahmed, the Acting Director of DRUM-South Asian Organizing Centre.

Under Suspicion, Under Attack was supported by the Ford Foundation, Four Freedoms Fund, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Proteus Fund.

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