FBI to start tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, Arabs in US
The move comes 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, reports the Huffington Post.
The move, which will go into effect by 2015, is 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.
In recent years, there have been violent anti-Sikh attacks in California, Florida, New York, Washington, and most prominently in Wisconsin, where a white supremacist shot and killed six worshipers at a temple in August.
Criminals also have targeted Arab-Americans, who they often assume are Muslim. The FBI currently tracks reports of hate crimes against Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and atheists/agnostics.
The bureau also tracks hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender.
Tracking formally began in 1990, when Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said the bureau also has decided to begin tracking hate crimes against additional religious groups.
He said the recommended list includes Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Orthodox, Other Christian, Jewish, Islamic (Muslim), Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, other Religions, Multiple Religions-Group, and Atheism/Agnosticism.