WASHINGTON — Nearly 100 US lawmakers appealed Thursday for a compiling of data on hate crimes against Sikh Americans, seeking better ways to combat racially motivated attacks against the community.
Sikh Americans have voiced alarm over harassment and violence since the September 11, 2001 attacks as some assailants mistakenly considered Sikh men, whose religion obliges them to wear turbans, to be Islamic extremists.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, 92 members of the House of Representatives urged the Justice Department to collect data on anti-Sikh crime as part of reporting on hate attacks, which already looks at violence against other groups including Muslims.
“The more information our law enforcement agencies have on violence against Sikh Americans, the more they can do to help prevent these crimes and bring those who commit them to justice,” said letter leader Representative Joe Crowley, a Democrat whose New York City district has a large Indian-American community.
The letter credited the Justice Department with reaching out to the 500,000-strong community but said that more needed to be done, citing figures that three out of every four Sikh-American boys experience bullying at school.
The letter voiced alarm over recent crimes, including the shooting deaths last year of two elderly Sikh men who were walking near their homes in California’s capital Sacramento.
“These kinds of hate-motivated attacks have no place in the United States,” the letter said.
The letter also said that compiling data would encourage more Sikh Americans to come forward about threats and work with authorities.