Report Reveals “Alarming Trend” in California Anti-Hindu Hate Crimes

Anti-Hindu hate crimes in California were second only to anti-Jewish incidents this past year, according to a new report.

The report, the first released by California’s one-year-old CA vs. Hate online hotline, tabulated 1,020 reports of hate in the past year. Of those, 36% were anti-Jewish, 23.3% were anti-Hindu and 14.6% were anti-Muslim.

The statistics lend credence and urgency to claims from Hindu advocates that anti-Hindu hate is on the rise.

California’s online hate crime reporting initiative has successfully increased reporting rates, including for Hinduphobic crime.

“Currently we live in a world where powerful groups and academics deny the very existence of religiously motivated violence against Hindus, even though they accept it happens to other faith communities,” said Pushpita Prasad of the Coalition of Hindus of North America. “As a California resident, I have been aghast at the lack of action and attention to this violation of my sacred spaces and my religious freedom.”

Also weighing in on the spike in anti-Hindu hate crime, Hindus for Human Rights released a statement saying they are “deeply concerned and shocked” by the hotline report’s “alarming trend,” and called “on local authorities, community leaders, and citizens to stand together in solidarity and support initiatives aimed at promoting religious tolerance and safeguarding the rights of all individuals.”

“I am deeply saddened and outraged by the rise in Hinduphobic and anti-Indian hate crimes this year.”

The CA vs. Hate hotline is an initiative designed to make it easier to report hate crime. Often, the victim of such a crime is reluctant to report it for fear of reprisal. Moreover, as Sikh Coalition federal policy manager Mannirmal Kaur pointed out, “Each year, fewer and fewer law enforcement agencies report any hate crimes or bias incidents to the FBI, leaving huge gaps in our knowledge about the lived experiences of marginalized communities in different places across the country.”

Online hate crime reporting initiatives in California have successfully increased reporting rates. Robin Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, said that when hate victims reported to the LA vs. Hate website, “we received 41 hate crimes that didn’t get reported to the police or sheriff’s, and that makes sense because of the well-documented under-reporting of hate crimes to law enforcement agencies.”

“It is impossible to address our nation’s hate crime problem without accurate data,” read a joint statement issued by a coalition including the Hindu American Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League and the Sikh Coalition. “We cannot confront a problem we are not measuring effectively.” The statement was issued in support of the Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act, a bipartisan bill introduced earlier this year that would mandate local law enforcement in cities of 100,000 or more to report credible hate crime data to the FBI.

Congressman Shri Thanedar of Michigan, who is Hindu, said the people of his district are living “in fear” due to the “substantial increase in attacks on Hinduism.” At an April news conference, Thanedar criticized the investigations of vandalism of Hindu sacred sites in California, saying that many of them go “nowhere,” adding that “it leaves the community feeling like nobody cares about them.”

On April 10, he introduced House Resolution 1131, a bill that “celebrates the significant contributions of Hindu Americans to the United States and addresses the troubling rise of Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu bigotry.”

“I am deeply saddened and outraged by the rise in Hinduphobic and anti-Indian hate crimes this year,” Congressman Thanedar said in a recent statement. “This behavior is unworthy of our nation and does not reflect our values. To Hindu and South Asian Americans, I offer a message of hope: Your Congress stands with you against these senseless acts of ignorance and violence.”

STAND joins with the Hindu community to condemn all forms of Hinduphobia.