Washington, Sep 11 (IANS) A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Indian-American Pramila Jayapal, has introduced a Congressional resolution condemning hatred, xenophobia, and racism against South Asian, Sikh, Arab, Muslim, and Middle Eastern communities in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The resolution, introduced on September 9 ahead of the 22nd anniversary of one of the worst terrorist attacks in US history, highlighted the tragedy and made a number of suggestions to help individuals impacted by the discriminatory stereotyping that followed the incident.
“This day forever changed our country, and its impact is still felt today.” “As we commemorate this tragic day, we must also consider the long-term consequences for Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities,” Congresswoman Jayapal stated.
“In the days following the attack, the murders of Balbir Singh Sodhi, Waqar Hassan, and Adel Karas were shocking displays of hatred.” Xenophobia and racism have no place in our society, and today we acknowledge the common anguish that these people suffered as they faced shame, discrimination, and loss of liberty,” she continued.
The resolution asked for the formation of an interagency task group to evaluate government policies, analyse and record their effect, and repeal measures that continue to identify and unjustly target these populations.
It also asked for congressional and civil rights hearings to investigate the findings and recommendations of this interagency task force, which was formed in cooperation with and with the participation of community-based groups.
The resolution advocated for providing resources to community-based groups that are not part of law enforcement and focus on the experiences and demands of these communities in order to promote hate crime prevention as well as the needs of victims of hate and state violence.
“In the aftermath of these attacks, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian Americans across the country were treated with suspicion, harassed, and even detained based solely on their identity,” said Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who introduced the resolution alongside Jayapal.
“As we commemorate the anniversary of these heinous assaults, we must learn from our failures… This resolve is an important first step towards admitting past wrongs and starting to heal,” Omar remarked.
The resolution also called for the development of alternatives to law enforcement and transformative justice programmes that are culturally and linguistically accessible and concentrate on vulnerable people within these communities.
Furthermore, the resolution requested the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation to collaborate on research into the effects of hatred, government targeting, political rhetoric, and profiling on physical and mental health.
Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh groups have historically faced bigotry and violence in the United States, which allegedly increased after the attacks.
During the first month after the attack, community groups reported 945 cases of bigotry and hatred directed towards Americans of Middle Eastern or South Asian heritage.
According to the resolution, this environment of hatred led to bullying and violence in their daily lives as well as in their jobs, enterprises, community centres, and places of worship.
Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and immigration officials arrested and imprisoned up to 1,200 Muslims soon after the September 11 attacks, and none of these “special interest” detainees were eventually convicted for terrorist involvement, according to the resolution.
“This hatred and government targeting hampered these communities’ ability to exercise their constitutionally protected rights, including the freedom to organise, speak, travel, and worship.”
The resolution was presented by representatives Rashida Tlaib, Judy Chu, Andre Carson, Shri Thanedar, and Henry Calvin Johnson, in addition to Jayapal and Omar.