American Turban

Dear FBI: Track hate crimes against Sikhs

Vandalized Gurdwara in Sterling Heights, Michigan (photo: saldef.org)

Reports of hate crimes (or suspected hate crimes) against Sikhs in the United States have been frequent in recent months.  Some of the more recent incidents include a Sikh stabbed in California, a Gurdwara vandalized in Michigan, and death threats targeting a Sikh family in Virginia, but these are not in isolation.

The FBI tracks hate crimes and publishes these statistics in their Hate Crimes Database each year. However, while Sikhs are often the specific targets of hate crimes and are encouraged to report them to authorities, the FBI does not formally recognize anti-Sikh crimes and instead often lumps these into the category reserved for Muslims. According to the Sikh Coalition (a national Sikh advocacy organization):

Unfortunately, the FBI assumes that all hate crimes against Sikhs are motivated by anti-Muslim bias.  In addition, the Sikh Coalition has learned that some FBI officials consider Sikhs to be followers of a Hindu sect.  For these reasons, hate crimes against Sikhs are not being accurately documented.  Our community remains officially invisible and irrelevant to the FBI, even though Sikhs are usually targeted because of their Sikh identity.

It is ironic that Sikhs are often victims of hate crimes due to ignorance of their identity, and the FBI who seeks to prosecute the perpetrators confuses the Sikh identity as well.  In order to combat these crimes against innocent Sikhs, we must better understand the nature of these incidents, and to do that, we need better data from the FBI.

The Sikh Coalition is spearheading a movement to have the FBI recognize anti-Sikh hate crimes as a separate category, but to accomplish this, they are seeking the public’s support.

We can support the Sikh Coalition by:

  1. Signing the online petition to the US Attorney General to request formal tracking of hate crimes against Sikhs.
  2. Contacting the US House Representative of your district (by phone and e-mail) to request that they support Congressman Joseph Crowley’s (D-NY) request of the Justice Department to track anti-Sikh hate crimes by signing his letter. The Sikh Coalition provides simple instructions and advice on how to contact your representative and what to say.

Both of these items would only take a few moments. The more voices we can add to this effort, the better we can protect our community from those who seek to harm us and others.

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