Sikhs Targeted For Hate Crimes Since 9/11
Mar 08, 2017 11:20 AM EST
The victim of a possible hate crime in Washington on Friday is not the first Sikh to be targeted. The Sikhs have apparently been facing violence and discrimination for more than a decade in the U.S., especially since 9/11 bombing.
Sikh-American groups say members of their religion have faced discrimination since 9/11 mainly because of their long beards and turbans that make them more visible than other minority groups. In the first month alone following 9/11, the Sikh Coalition documented more than 300 cases of hate crime, violence and discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S. as the locals targeted their hate toward anyone who looked Middle Eastern. "The threat of hate crime and racism has become a part of our daily lives," lawyer and activist Valarie Kaur said. In 2012, a gunman walked into a gurdwara in Wisconsin and killed six Sikhs.
Sikhs have also been the subject of racial profiling outside the U.S. Actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia revealed that he was prevented from boarding an airplane in Mexico by local security agents after refusing to remove his turban during a security screening. Ahluwalia said that Aeromexico staff and security screeners forced him to buy a ticket for a different carrier after he refused to remove his turban.
Meanwhile, Sikh-American leaders have called on the President to address the possible hate crime attack in Washington. Others, however, have warned that his words may lead to violence.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center that tracks hate crime, a surge of incidents targeting Muslims and other religious minority groups has surfaced since the election of President Donald Trump. Nonetheless, during his first address to Congress last week, Trump has said that the violence of hate crime is a reminder that while U.S. "may be a nation divided on policies" it is still "a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its very ugly forms."
Civil rights lawyer Deepa Iyer plead to argue. "A few words of condemnation cannot erase months of President Trump's own divisive rhetoric and his administration's policies targeting and stigmatizing the very communities most vulnerable to violence," Iyer said, explaining the threats of hate crime Trump has brought into the country.