FBI must track hate crimes – Sikh group

A US-based Sikh group is requesting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track hate-crimes against Sikhs, in the wake of the recent desecration of a Gurdwara (a Sikh place of worship) building by vandals in Michigan.

The  under-construction Gurdwara was defaced with anti-Muslim graffiti on 5 February, with racial epithets, drawings of a cross and a gun, and references to the 9/11 attacks.

New York-based Sikh Coalition, a community group that claims to work towards fostering strong relations with local community, says it is disappointed that the FBI refuses to track hate crimes against Sikhs.  It is calling the Sikh community in the US to sign a petition to the Justice Department demanding that hate crimes against Sikhs be accurately documented.

Currently, the FBI treats all bias crimes against Sikhs as anti-Muslim hate crimes, says the Coalition in a statement.

“In addition, the Sikh Coalition has learned that some agency personnel erroneously believe that Sikhs are members of a Hindu sect. For these reasons, the federal government has no means of tracking hate crimes against Sikhs.

Explaining the anomaly, a blog post by the Coalition states that the FBI documents hate crimes in the United States on Form 1-699, the Hate Crime Incident Report. The statistics collected by this form allow law enforcement officials to analyze hate crime trends and allocate resources accordingly.

In its online petition to the attorney general, Eric Holder, the community group say that the Sikh community is acutely susceptible to hate violence in the United States, (therefore) it is critically important for federal authorities to devise means of tracking hate violence against the Sikh community.

“Failing to do so is bad public policy, because it is impossible to diagnose and prevent a problem unless it is being measured.”

“Unfortunately, the FBI assumes that all hate crimes against Sikhs are motivated by anti-Muslim bias. Our community remains officially invisible and irrelevant to the FBI, even though Sikhs are usually targeted because of their Sikh identity.

“We believe that the FBI has the capacity to document anti-Sikh hate crimes. For example, Form 1-699 does an extremely thorough and nuanced job documenting crimes motivated by anti-gay bias, going so far as to maintain distinct categories for anti-lesbian hate crimes and even anti-bisexual hate crimes.

“Given the willingness of the FBI to invest time and paperwork into monitoring these other categories, it should not be difficult for them to create a separate category for Sikhs. This is an effective way for the federal government to monitor and allocate resources toward preventing hate crimes against Sikhs.

“Indeed, how can you diagnose a problem if you don’t even track it?,” asks the Coalition.


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