WASHINGTON: Over 6,000 hate crimes, including against Hindus and Sikhs, have been reported in the US last year, according to FBI statistics which showed about 5 per cent jump in such incidents from 2015.
A majority of them were motivated by anti-Black or African American bias and were anti-Jewish, while a quarter of them were anti-Muslim.
In its latest annual figures released yesterday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that in 2016, it registered 12 anti-Hindu hate crimes and seven anti-Sikh hate crimes.
One hate crime offence was recorded against the Buddhist community.
While 3.1 per cent of the hate crimes resulted from anti-Asian bias, another 1.3 per cent were classified as anti-Arab bias.
There were 6,121 hate crime incidents recorded last year, an almost 5 per cent rise from 2015 and a 10 per cent increase from 2014, the report said.
"No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, of how they worship," US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said after FBI data showed a 4.2 per cent increase in hate crime incidents and a 6.3 per cent increase in hate crime offences from 2015 to 2016.
However, Sikh Coalition contested the FBI figures arguing that this was being under reported.
"FBI data showing 6,121 hate crime incidents and 7 antiSikh hate crime incidents in 2016 represents the tip of the iceberg," said Sim Singh, the Sikh Coalition's national advocacy manager.
"The only way to bridge the data gap is for law enforcement agencies to adopt mandatory hate crime reporting," he said.
In a statement, Sikh Coalition said that estimates that Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to experience hate crimes than the average American because of their small population and the frequency with which they are targeted.
In March, a Sikh man was shot in Kent, Washington after the attacker told him to "go back to your own country".
In 2016, the Sikh Coalition received legal intakes from 15 Sikhs who believed they were subjected to hate incidents.
Since the start of 2017, there have been 13 similar intakes, it claimed.
"If law enforcement agencies fail to document the true extent of hate crimes against our communities, our nation will have a hard time mobilising the political will and resources necessary to prevent and combat the problem," said Singh.
There are approximately 500,000 Sikhs in the US.
Although Sikh Americans have been repeatedly targeted for hate crimes since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI agreed to track anti-Sikh hate crimes in response to a lobbying campaign in the aftermath of a 2012 neo-Nazi attack on a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, it said.
The agency officially began collecting data on anti-Sikh hate crimes in 2015.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said new FBI hates crimes statistics -- which indicated that almost one-quarter of the victims of anti-religious hate crimes in 2016 were Muslim -- shows the need for all Americans to stand up to increasing bigotry nationwide.
"This data is particularly alarming given dramatic underreporting of hate crimes, meaning that the real incidence of bias-motivated crimes is likely much higher than what was released today," said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
"We should be devoting significant resources to combating the insidious spread of hate-motivated attacks, including greater incentives for local enforcement to report these crimes. In order to fight hate, we need to understand the scope and severity of the problem—and one-hundred-percent reporting is an important step in that direction," he said.