The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony May 2 from representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Sikh community, and the Justice Department. The subject was the dramatic increase in religion-based hate crimes, up 23 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the committee, said, “Crimes against Jews are the most common religious hate crimes and they have increased,” but Islamophobic incidents rose most sharply among all religious groups, with FBI statistics showing a 67 percent spike from 2014 to 2015.
Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh physician, spoke of violence against Sikhs as representative of a worsening in religious bigotry. He was violently beaten by a mob on the streets of New York City in 2013. As he lay in the emergency room awaiting treatment, he learned that the Muslim woman lying next to him wearing a hijab was attacked by the same group of young men.
Those testifying before Congress urged preventative measures, including mandatory reporting laws for hate crimes, a federal interagency task force on hate crimes, and public officials speaking out against bigotry.
In addition to Dr. Singh and Senator Grassley, those submitting written testimony included Senator Patrick Leahy; Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League; Vanita Gupta, Incoming President and CEO of the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights and former Acting Assistant Attorney General and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; and Chief Will D. Johnson, chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Human and Civil Rights Committee and Chief Of Police of the Arlington (Texas) Police Department.
All written testimony is available for download from the Senate website.