Thursday, March 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

FBI assurance on hate crimes
Chief Mueller meets Sikhs, Muslims

Washington, March 5
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has so far initiated 414 investigations into hate crimes against Muslims, Sikhs and Arab-Americans with federal charges brought against 17 persons, the agency said.

Additionally, 129 persons have been charged with state and local crimes in connection with the investigations.

FBI Director Robert Mueller met recently key leaders of national Arab-American, Muslim, and Sikh organisations to reassure members of these communities that strong action would be taken against hate crimes.

The meeting built on earlier discussions on a number of issues, ranging from vigilante attacks and other hate crimes to the value of continuing assistance from the Arab-American, Muslim and Sikh communities, an official press note said.

“Protecting the civil rights of all Americans remains a top priority for the FBI,” said Mr Mueller. “I’m vitally concerned that the rights of Muslim, Sikh and Arab Americans be protected. The FBI stands to take strong and immediate action against hate crimes in the event of any anti-American backlash to world events.”

Mr Manjit Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force said, “At this time of vulnerability in our community, we feel that it is very important to maintain open communications with the FBI.”

Dr Ziad J. Asali, president of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the FBI’s aggressive response to hate crimes had sent a clear message that vigilante attacks would not be tolerated.

Another topic discussed was the importance of strengthening relationships and improving cultural sensitivity.

Mr Mueller discussed the FBI’s outreach efforts with Arab and Muslim groups, which have included contacts at all levels of the FBI, including three meetings with the Director himself and numerous other meetings with managers of the FBI’s civil rights unit.

Additionally, each FBI field office was tasked with establishing contacts with Arab-American, Muslim, and Sikh community organisations and leaders in their territories, the press note added. UNI

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