Expressing concern over the rising incidents of hate crimes in the country, U.S. Congressmen say that education can play a pivotal role in curbing this scourge.
Congressman John Garamendi said people should be educated to respect cultural and religious values of different communities.
“We know that these hate crimes exist, that there is discrimination and that there is a fear of this. What we have to do is to educate. Education becomes extremely important in this process so that we understand the values, we understand the religious issues, the cultural issues and also that at the end of the day we are all alike,” said Garamendi.
Another Congressman, Mike Honda, opined that the appointment of people belonging to religious minorities in key positions could address the problem to an extent.
“I think basically we need to do a better job of educating our citizens about different groups, different people (and) different religions as our neighbours and we also need to have more, for instance more Sikhs to be more in public safety, police officers, fire fighters so that their presence is noticed in the community so when people see other people who look different or dress differently they won’t think negatively,” said Honda.
Since the 9/11 attack, minority communities in the US have witnessed a growing hostility towards them.
Sikhs say they have been singled out increasingly for harassment around the world since September 11, with attackers believing incorrectly that they are Muslim extremists because of their turbans and beards.
Meanwhile, Congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren, admitted that attempts to end discrimination against ethnic minorities were slow.
“We fought a civil war with millions of people dead on both sides. The slaves were freed but discrimination didn’t end and now that we are a society, not just black and white but multi-ethnic, the discrimination against other ethnic minorities sometimes exists. It is a constant fight in the United States and one that I think gradually over time we are winning but at too slow a pace,” Lofgren told ANI.
In the latest incident of hate crime, a white man was arrested for the mass murder of nine black people at a historic African-American church in South Carolina on June 18.
The mass shooting set off an intense 14-hour manhunt that ended with 21-year-old Dylann Roof arrested in a traffic stop in a small North Carolina town.
The massacre once again trained the spotlight on the divisive issues of race relations and gun crimes in the United States and also reignited a debate over gun control in a country where the right to own firearms is constitutionally protected.