Washington: Anti-Sikh hate crime in the US increased by 200 per cent since 2017, making Sikhs the third most commonly targeted religious group in America, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) annual report for hate crime in 2018 has showed.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans experience an average of 250,000 hate crimes per year. But the latest FBI data published on Tuesday, by contrast, only documented 7,120 incidents, with less than 13 per cent of law enforcement affirmatively providing reports of hate crimes, The American Bazaar reported.
Troubled by the findings of the FBI report, minority civil rights organization, Sikh Coalition has called for immediate action to effectively counteract hate crime against targeted communities.
“At the end of the day, this data simply isn’t giving us the accurate information we need to effectively counteract hate against targeted communities,” said Sim J. Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy.
“It’s past time for action… Congress must pass the next generation of common-sense legislation that equips law enforcement to better identify and track hate incidents with the bipartisan Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer ‘No Hate Act’.”
The Jabara-HeyerNo Hate Act was named for two victims of high-profile murders (Khalid Jabara, killed in 2016, and Heather Heyer, killed in 2017) who were excluded from previous hate crime statistics due to poor data collection and reporting practices.
This legislation would require the federal US government to address under-reporting and related issues by vastly improving hate crime reporting with funding for resources at the state level, including critical training for law enforcement and the establishment of hate crime reporting hotlines.
The Sikh Coalition also noted that just as Heyer and Jabara’s hate crimes went uncatalogued by the FBI, the Sikh American community experienced a similar oversight of a serious crime, reports The American Bazaar.
In 2017, a man shot more than a dozen rounds into a van of five Sikh men in Carson City, Nevada, wounding Harmandeep Singh Shergill.
The attacker was convicted on four counts with a hate crime enhancement and sentenced to 34 years in prison. Yet the assault does not appear in the FBI’s 2017 data as a hate crime.
Even so, the FBI’s limited data confirms that Sikhs, with their distinct articles of faith, remain hundreds of times more likely to be targeted for bias-related harassment or violence than their fellow Americans, according to the Coalition.