FBI reports hate crimes on the rise

A Muslim teacher in a Georgia high school said someone left her an anonymous note in her classroom on Friday, telling her that her “headscarf isn’t allowed anymore.”
The note, scribbled in black ink, also told her to “tie” her headscarf around her neck and “hang yourself with it.” The note ended with the word “America” along with a drawing of the American flag.

Mairah Teli, a teacher at Dacula High School in Gwinnett County, located outside Atlanta, posted a picture of the note to her Facebook page Friday.

“As a Muslim, I wear a headscarf as a practice of my faith. I want to share this to raise awareness about the reality and climate of our community. Spreading hate isn’t going to ‘make America great again,’” she wrote. These incidents have become common, especially since the election of Trump to the Presidency.

This week, the FBI released its annual report on hate crimes, which for the very first time, includes reported hate crimes committed against Sikhs. According to the FBI, there were six hate crimes committed against Sikhs in 2015.

“We commend the FBI for including reported hate crimes committed against Sikhs in its annual report,” said Arjun Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition. “However, we believe this number is significantly under-inclusive, and urge the FBI to make hate crime reporting by law enforcement mandatory not voluntary.”

The Sikh Coalition worked closely with the FBI to ensure that hate crimes against Sikhs were included and reported by the FBI in its annual report. We have long believed that data helps drive change, and with better statistics, that law enforcement would be better able to target cities and localities acutely vulnerable to hate violence. We are now working with the FBI to ensure that they train local and state law enforcement on accurate hate crime reporting, and call for reporting to be mandatory not voluntary, so that the data is robust and complete.

The Sikh Coalition is one among the many that continues to provide free legal assistance to Sikhs who have experienced backlash and discrimination. While we cannot accept all cases, our legal team conducts dozens of intakes every year related to profiling, discrimination and hate violence.

The Coalition urged community members to review our FAQ guide on hate crimes, hate speech and on how to report incidents to authorities and the Sikh Coalition. Please also view our printable hate crime poster, which is available in both English and Punjabi. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition continues to provide educational brochures that quickly introduce non-Sikhs to the Sikh faith and community. This resource is available in 15 different languages. To get copies, please email education@sikhcoalition.org.

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