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US lawmakers want hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus tracked

Ami Bera-Tulsi Gabbard
Ami Bera & Tulsi Gabbard

Washington, March 22 (IANS) Over 100 member of the US House of Representatives have asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arab-Americans as it does for other communities.

The call came in a letter to FBI Advisory Policy Board signed among others by Joe Crowley, vice chair of the Democratic caucus, Ami Bera, the lone Indian American member of the House and Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American in the Congress.

The board is expected to meet soon to review whether these categories should be added to hate crimes forms used by the FBI and Department of Justice.

“These groups have all too often been the victim of violent and deadly attacks, and many are targeted with violence for reasons attackers chillingly claim are related to hatred,” the lawmakers said.

“Unfortunately, anecdotal and non-government data indicate that the commission of hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arab-Americans has become a deadly problem,” they said citing several cases.

These included massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and the murder of Hindu Senando Sen on the New York City subway along with attacks across the US – underscore the severity of the issue.

In fact, according to community surveys in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, approximately 10 percent of Sikh-Americans felt they had already been a victim of a hate crime.

Attacks on persons or property in Michigan and elsewhere add urgency to these concerns, the lawmakers said..

“Excluding Sikh, Hindu, and Arab-Americans in hate crime data collection efforts not only diminishes the safety of these communities, but also weakens the quality of hate crime data overall,” they said.

“We are also deeply concerned about this issue because attacks and threats against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs appear to be aimed in part at our nation’s youth.

“For instance, in one major urban area, a shocking three out of four turbaned Sikh boys reported being harassed and bullied in schools because of their appearance and Sikh identity,” the lawmakers said.

The move is backed by the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Hindu American Foundation, Indian American Forum for Political Education, Sikh Coalition, and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) among other leading national organizations

Thanking the lawmakers, the Sikh Coalition said: “We believe that accurately tracking these crimes will strengthen diagnostic and deterrence efforts and help law enforcement officials proactively address these challenges.”

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