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Sikhs, Pakistani Muslims most affected by hate crimes

September 11, 2006 14:15 IST

Hindus living in Washington DC were the least affected by the spate of hate crimes inflicted on South Asians following the September 11 attacks, while Sikhs and Pakistani Muslims were among the worst affected groups. These are the results of a new study in the Washington DC areas.

In the aftermath of the attacks, only 15 percent of Indian Hindus say they were afraid for their physical safety, compared with 41 percent Pakistani Muslims and 64 percent of Sikh respondents.

As many as 83 percent of Sikh respondents say they or someone they know personally had experienced a hate crime or incident and 35 percent Pakistani Muslims say they considered leaving the United States because of hostile atmosphere created in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Eighty-six percent of Pakistani Muslim respondents also said they became more interested in domestic and international politics and, generally, they felt more of a desire to participate politically.

The study was done by the Discrimination and National Security Initiative, an affiliate of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

The report, released on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, was based on interviews conducted over last two years.

June Han, who authored the report, said, "We now live in an era in which individuals who are or are perceived to be Arab or Muslim, including South Asians, are viewed with suspicion because of their religious background and/or the colour of their skin."

DNSI was founded after 9/11 to examine the mistreatment of minority communities during times of military action or national crisis. The project specifically aims to chronicle such mistreatment in an information repository and to present the human consequences of this mistreatment in original reports.

The report - released on Sunday - is the first extensive study sponsored and issued by DNSI.

Dawinder Dave Sidhu, a founding director of DNSI, notes that the project was created in response to a climate in which Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim were being killed, harassed, and subject to other noxious behavior.

The report also discusses respondents and reactions to various situations after 9/11. At times, it says, they were left wondering why they did not get jobs or promotions, or why someone sitting next to them on a plane would ask to be reseated.

In many cases, they concluded that these types of occurrences resulted from 9/11-related discrimination.

Dharam Shourie in New York
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