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HomeNewsCalifornia sees more hate crimes against Hindus than Islamophobic incidents

California sees more hate crimes against Hindus than Islamophobic incidents

After Indian-American politicians raised the issue of Hinduphobia in the US, the state introduced the California vs Hate initiative in 2023, but it didn't help much

Anti-Hindu hate crimes in California, the United States, have become the second-most reported form of religious bias, according to a report by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). This is happening amidst a rise in hate crimes within the state. The top form of religious hate reported in California is anti-Semitism while cases of Islamophobia rank third.

The rise in Hinduphobia in the US has been highlighted by Indian-American politicians. In response to this, California launched the California vs Hate initiative in 2023 to combat hate crimes. In its first year, the programme received over 1,000 reports and provides a hotline and online portal for safe and anonymous reporting. It aims to support individuals and communities targeted by hate.

Among religiously motivated incidents, anti-Hindu bias ranks second, accounting for 23.3% of reported cases. Anti-Jewish bias or anti-Semitism is the highest at approximately 37% while anti-Muslim hate crimes rank third, comprising 14.6% of religious bias incidents.

Residential areas in California most susceptible

Numerous hate crimes throughout history have often remained unreported due to various factors such as fear of reprisal, limited access to culturally sensitive support systems, apprehension regarding immigration repercussions, and a lack of trust in law enforcement. The reports frequently highlight discriminatory treatment (18.4%), verbal harassment (16.7%), and the use of derogatory names or slurs (16.7%) as the primary reasons behind these incidents.

“CA vs Hate is about recognising and protecting the incredible diversity of our state and sending a clear message that hate will never be tolerated,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

This initiative is a direct response to the increase in reported hate crimes, which have reached their highest levels since 2001, with a nearly 33% increase from 2020 to 2021.

The incidents most commonly occur in residential areas (29.9%), workplaces (9.7%), and public facilities (9.1%). Approximately two-thirds of individuals agreed to follow up for care coordination services, including legal aid or counselling.

Nearly 80% of California’s counties were included in the reports, encompassing all 10 of the state’s most populous counties.

Further analysis of 560 reports by CA vs Hate staff found that race and ethnicity (35.1%), gender identity (15.1%), and sexual orientation (10.8%) were the most common bias motivations. The most frequently reported biases within the race and ethnicity category were Anti-Black (26.8%), anti-Latino (15.4%), and anti-Asian (14.3%).

Hindus scarred and scared under hostile American governance

The recent surge in hate crimes against Indian-Americans, particularly Hindus, has sparked significant fear and unease within the community. Many members of the community have expressed frustration over what they perceive as a lack of action by law enforcement agencies, especially in cases like the attempted arson of the Indian consulate in San Francisco and threats against Indian diplomats.

An Indian-American Democratic Congressman has joined Hindu leaders and organisations in denouncing the increasing Hinduphobia in the United States. This call to action underscores the pressing need for protective measures for the community.

Some years ago in the US, Shri Thanedar, an Indian-American Congressman, joined forces with a group of Hindu leaders and organizations to combat the increasing hate crimes against the community. In March, Thanedar explained that the formation of the Hindu Caucus was motivated by the prevalence of Hinduphobia, exemplified by incidents such as the attacks on temples and Hindus worldwide, as well as the introduction of California SB403, a bill aimed at prohibiting caste discrimination.

During the same month, Suhag Shukla from the Hindu American Foundation highlighted the pervasive anti-Hindu bias and hate on college campuses. She also provided a list of significant hate crimes targeting the Hindu community in the US.

Hindu activists argue that any state-level initiatives will likely fail due to the state’s hostile attitude towards the community, as demonstrated by California SB403. This bill, which seeks to ban caste discrimination, is seen as an example of “institutionalized discrimination” by Shukla.

Sunder Iyer, an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley who has personally experienced targeted hate, shared his story with the participants. He revealed that he discovered how a civil rights agency can racially profile and violently stereotype Indian Americans.

Iyer respectfully urged members of Congress to allocate a budget within the Department of Justice to investigate the California Civil Rights Department. He emphasized that this action would serve the greater good of America, as an agency that fails to represent the truth harms all Americans. Iyer also mentioned that many of his colleagues at Cisco and other companies in California would be willing to provide testimony. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that they do not live in fear and that their voices are not suppressed.

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