Washington: Several community organisations, including a South Asian coalition, have launched a signature drive to press lawmakers to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab Americans.
While the FBI has various categories to track hate crimes, crimes directed at these three communities are not currently tracked, according to the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).
"It is crucial that they are added to the tracking form in order to address this problem and keep all communities safe," it said urging community members to ask lawmakers representing their area to sign-on a letter circulating in Congress.
Long before 11 September, 2001, South Asians have endured bias, discrimination, and hate violence against our community, SAALT said
"Unfortunately, following the 11 September attacks, these crimes escalated particularly against Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans in many facets of life," it said noting SAALT identified 645 incidents of bias in these communities within just one week of 9/11.
"Sadly, these attacks continue to be an ongoing problem in our community and effectively addressing them has become increasingly difficult," SAALT said recalling the Aug 5, 2012 shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Citing FBI statistics, SAALT said over 6,600 hate crimes were reported in 2010 alone, the majority of which were motivated by race (47 percent), followed by religion (20 percent), sexual orientation (19 percent), and ethnicity or national origin (13 percent).
While hate crimes in the Muslim community are tracked by the FBI with a notable rise by 1,600 percent from 2000 to 2001, hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs are not similarly tracked.
"Part of the difficulty in addressing these alleged hate crimes is due to the fact that they are only partially tracked," SAALT said stressing that without fully accounting for the problem, we cannot begin to fully understand or address it.