FBI to Start Tracking Hate Crimes Against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs
After years of pressure from civil rights groups and lawmakers who say attacks against religious and ethnic minorities are not adequately monitored by law enforcement, the FBI will begin formally tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs.
Meeting in Portsmouth, Va., on Wednesday, an FBI advisory board voted to expand standard hate-crime incident reports used by thousands of police departments across the country to include crimes motivated by bias against the two religious groups, as well as Arabs.
The changes, which go into effect by 2015, are being praised by Sikh, Hindu and Arab advocates hoping to avoid underreporting of hate crimes and increase awareness among law enforcement of their religions and cultures. In particular, members of the Sikh religion, in which men typically grow beards and wear turbans, have said crimes against them are often misreported as anti-Muslim.
“We can’t go to policy makers or law enforcement to make the case about crimes against our communities unless we have the official data,” said Rajdeep Singh, director of law and policy for the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights group that has pushed law enforcement for two years to take action. Specific hate-crime statistics, Singh hopes, will help law enforcement prevent crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs.