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US community groups seek hate crime hearings

Posted on Aug 22, 12:08PM | IANS

A diverse group of over 150 organisations led by the Sikh Coalition has asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings on hate crimes and the proliferation of hate groups in the US.

The group sought the hearings in a letter to the panel Tuesday, citing the recent massacre of six Sikh worshipers at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and a string of attacks on Muslim communities nationwide during the last month.

Hate violence continues to affect the lives of thousands of individuals due to their race, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, and immigration status, it said.

The group also urged people to sign an online petition to the Senate panel to hold hearings on hate crimes in the US as also email a letter to members of the US Congress urging them to support Sikh hate crime tracking by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Asking the Senate panel to hold a hearing next month on the need to address hate crimes and the proliferation of hate groups in the United States, the group said this is not a theoretical concern.

The number of hate groups in the US, currently numbering over a thousand, has grown by almost 60 percent since 2000, it said, citing the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

In 2010, more than 47 percent of hate crimes were racially motivated, 20 percent were motivated by the religion of the victim, 19 percent were based on sexual orientation and almost 13 percent of all hate crimes were based on ethnicity or national origin.

The letter was signed among others by the Arab American Action Network, Asian American Federation, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Counsellors Helping (South) Asians/Indians, Federation of India Community Associations, National Congress of American Indians and United Club of Indian Women.