What is the difference between a regular crime and a hate crime?
Hate crimes are criminal offenses motivated by bias. Although all crimes tear at the fabric of civil society, hate crimes are particularly dangerous because they manifest the very same bigotry that fueled the lynching of African Americans during the Jim Crow Era and the ethnic cleansing of racial and religious minorities throughout history on all continents around the world. Because of their similarity to crimes against humanity, we believe that hate crimes should be treated as a separate category in criminal codes and punished to the maximum extent of the law.
How many Sikh Americans have fallen victim to hate crimes?
It is difficult to know the true number of hate crimes against Sikh Americans because many incidents go unreported and because Sikh-specific statistics are currently unavailable. The U.S. Department of Justice has noted that, since 9/11, its Civil Rights Division as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorneys have investigated over 800 bias incidents against Sikh, Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Americans.1 Significantly, a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that, as of 2005, the true number of hate crimes committed in the United States was 15 times higher than that which was reported in FBI hate crime statistics.2
Why are Sikh Americans subjected to hate crimes?
Sikh Americans are often mistaken for Muslims because of ignorance, and recent surveys have suggested a huge increase in anti-Muslim bigotry in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; but this does not fully explain why Sikh Americans are subjected to hate crimes. Even if Sikhs clarify their religious affiliation and create national awareness about the Sikh religion, bigots may still target Sikh Americans because of racism, religious exclusivity, and xenophobia.