US saw uptick in backlash targeting Muslims:US official

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New Delhi, June 20:  There has been an uptick in discriminatory backlash targeting Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs in the US following the recent terrorist attacks, a top Obama Administration official said today and asked people to speak out against such discrimination.

"Following recent heinous acts of terrorism over the past year, we see an uptick in discriminatory backlash targeting Muslim communities. We also see this backlash targeting communities perceived to be Muslim: Arabs, Sikhs and South Asians, including people of the Hindu faith," said Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

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"This discriminatory backlash doesn't just harm one community. It violates the defining values of our country.  As a nation – and as a people – we cannot, and we will not, stay silent when individuals choose to attack or discriminate against any faith or any community. Together, we must speak out. And together, we must respond," Indian-American Gupta said in her key note address to the inaugural policy conference of the Hindu American Foundation.

Gupta said US President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta E Lynch have made this point several times in recent months.

"To anyone who feels afraid, targeted or discriminated against because of which religion you practice or where you worship, I want to say this – we see you. We will protect you. And we will do everything in our power to defend your rights to live free from violence, harassment and discrimination – rights that our Constitution guarantees and rights that form the bedrock of a free, open and inclusive society," she said.

Gupta said to advance this mission, the Justice Department continues to vigorously prosecute religion-based hate crimes. In 2015, the FBI updated its Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual, and it now uses separate categories to track hate crimes targeting Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs.

"This greatly enhances our ability to understand the problem of hate violence and effectively allocate resources," she observed.

"In addition, with faith communities reporting violence against houses of worship, we want to ensure you get access to the resources, assistance, guidance and support you need to keep your communities safe. "Last December, the Civil Rights Division participated in a webinar sponsored by FEMA to help prepare houses of worship for emergencies by reviewing available resources. More than 1,900 clergy and religious community leaders watched the webinar," she said.

PTI 

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