WASHINGTON: As many as 92 US lawmakers have urged the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to collect data on hate crimes against Sikh-Americans as their appearance makes them acutely susceptible to violence.
"The more information our law enforcement agencies have on violence against Sikh-Americans, the more they can do to help prevent these crimes and bring those who commit them to justice," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FBI.
"The Department of Justice and FBI have carried out important outreach efforts in coalition with the Sikh community, but these efforts must also be paired with data collection to ensure we are doing everything possible to crack down on hate crimes against the Sikh community."
Sikh-Americans are often targeted for hate crimes because of their distinct identity and common misperceptions with respect to their attire and appearance, wrote lawmakers led by Democrat Joseph Crowley, chief deputy whip in the US House of Representatives.
Attackers often appear to erroneously believe that Sikh-Americans are affiliated with extremists and were somehow responsible for the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Over the past year, Sikh-Americans and their religious institutions have been threatened or attacked in highly-publicised incidents in New York, Michigan, Virginia and California, where two men were murdered.
Advocacy groups believe it is likely that many other incidents have occurred but went unreported.
A former six-term member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Crowley currently serves as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans. He has often taken up issues related to Indian-Americans and the Sikh-American community.