FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs

Tuesday 31st March 2015 14:29 EDT

Washington: Six US lawmakers along with leading advocacy groups have welcomed the inclusion of Sikh, Hindu, and Arab American communities in the Department of Justice's hate crimes tracking effort. This is the final step in the long-fought effort to encourage the US federal government to finally begin tracking and quantifying hate crimes against these at-risk communities, the lawmakers said at an event on Capitol Hill.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently updated its hate crimes database and FBI training manual in order to start tracking hate crimes committed against these groups - that system is now fully operational. Ami Bera, the lone Indian-American member of the US House of Representatives, along with fellow House members Joe Crowley, Bill Pascrell, Mike Honda, Grace Meng and John Garamendi attended the event. These lawmakers led a Congressional effort to encourage the Department of Justice and FBI to document hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab Americans.

They wrote numerous letters to the DOJ and FBI and introduced a Congressional resolution in the wake of the tragic August 2012 massacre in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and submitting testimony urging action on hate crimes.

In 2011, two elderly Sikh Americans, Gurmej Atwal and Surinder Singh, were shot and killed while out for a walk in Elk Grove, California, a part of Bera's constituency, in a suspected hate crime that is still unsolved. "Since the September 11th attacks, too many Americans, especially Sikh, Hindu and Arab-Americans, have been wrongfully subjected to hate crimes and discrimination, including the shooting of two Sikh Americans in my own city," Bera said.

"Religious tolerance is a fundamental value of our nation and we must do everything we can to prevent these crimes motivated by bias against a victim's religious beliefs," he said. "Until now, Anti-Sikh hate crimes were not recognized by the FBI," said Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition.

"Year after year, Sikh Americans were being targeted for harassment and violence because of their distinct identity. "For the first time, the FBI now officially acknowledges that Sikhs are targeted for being Sikhs. While refinements are needed to the agency's tracking system and training standards, we are making progress," he said.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter