5% spike in hate crimes against Sikhs and Hindus in US last year
FBI DATA Sikh coalition contested agency figures saying cases were being under reported
› In 2016, the Sikh Coalition received legal intakes from 15 Sikhs who believed they were subjected to hate incidents. In 2017, there have been 13 similar intakes so far.
SIM SINGH, Sikh Coalition’s national advocacy manager
Over 6,000 hate crimes, including against Hindus and Sikhs, have been reported in the US last year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics which showed about 5% jump in such incidents from 2015.
A majority of them were motivated by anti-black or African-American bias and were anti-Jewish, while a quarter of them were anti-Muslim.
In its latest annual figures released on Monday, the FBI said in 2016, it registered 12 antiHindu hate crimes and seven anti-Sikh hate crimes. One hate crime offence was recorded against the Buddhist community.
While 3.1% of the hate crimes resulted from anti-Asian bias, another 1.3% were classified as anti-Arab bias.
There were 6,121 hate crime incidents recorded last year, an almost 5% rise from 2015 and a 10% increase from 2014, the report said.
“No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, of how they worship,” US attorney general Jeff Sessions said after FBI data showed a 4.2% increase in hate crime incidents and a 6.3% increase in hate crime offences from 2015 to 2016.
However, Sikh Coalition contested the FBI figures arguing that this was being under reported. “The FBI data show- ing 6,121 hate crime incidents and seven anti-Sikh hate crime incidents in 2016 represents the tip of the iceberg,” said Sim Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s national advocacy manager.
“The only way to bridge the data gap is for law enforcement agencies to adopt mandatory hate crime reporting,” he said.
In a statement, Sikh Coalition said that estimates that Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to experience hate crimes than the average American because of their small population and the frequency with which they are targeted.
In March, a Sikh man was shot in Kent, Washington, after the attacker told him to “go back to your own country”.
In 2016, the Sikh Coalition received legal intakes from 15 Sikhs who believed they were subjected to hate incidents.
Since the start of 2017, there have been 13 similar intakes, it claimed.
“If law enforcement agencies fail to document the true extent of hate crimes against our communities, our nation will have a hard time mobilising the political will and resources necessary to prevent and combat the problem,” said Singh.
There are approximately 5,00,000 Sikhs in the US.
Although Sikh Americans have been repeatedly targeted for hate crimes since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI agreed to track anti-Sikh hate crimes in response to a lobbying campaign in the aftermath of a 2012 neo-Nazi attack on a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, it said.
The agency officially began collecting data on anti-Sikh hate crimes in 2015.