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Local Lawmakers Urge Congress To Track Hate Crimes Against Sikhs, Hindus And Arab-Americans

SAN FRANCISCO(KCBS) — A bipartisan group of 109 members of Congress signed a letter on Wednesday urging that the FBI add new categories in its tracking of hate crimes.

The FBI currently has no hate crime categories for Sikhs, Hindus and Arab-Americans. Attacks against these groups are mostly labeled—often inaccurately—as anti-Muslim. As result, there is no federal data to track such information.

“We now know that there are numerous crimes that are committed against these individuals (because) they appear to be Muslim, or wearing a turban or maybe it’s their dress,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said. “You could begin an educational program so you’re able to indentify the problem and that’s were the FBI’s list of hate crimes becomes very important.”

Zahra Billoo, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for the San Francisco Bay Area, is encouraged by the lawmakers’ actions. She said, when looking at the FBI’s data, it’s unclear exactly who the hate crime victims are.

“By grouping them together the way they are today, it really treats many of them as invisible,” Billoo said.

The FBI’s Advisory Policy Board is expected to decide in June whether to add the three categories to its hate crime data collection.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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