A blanket ban on entry of people in the US based on faith is unacceptable as it repudiate the ideals of America which has always guaranteed the freedom of religion, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said.
“To impose a blanket stereotype on all members of any faith because of the actions of those who pervert that faith is to go backwards in our thinking and our discourse, and to repudiate the founding ideals of this country,” she said.
“This is unacceptable in a nation whose Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of religion in its very first clause, and the Department of Justice has vigorously prosecuted a number of these repugnant acts,” Lynch said in an interfaith address at a mosque in Greater Washington Area of Virginia, which was attended by Indian-Americans of different faith.
Lynch said the Department of Justice – and the entire Obama Administration – regards hate crimes with the utmost seriousness, whether they target individuals because of their race, their religion, their gender or their sexual orientation.
“And that is why we have worked tirelessly over the last several years to bring those who perpetrate these heinous deeds to justice,” she said.
“A cornerstone of that work is investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against Muslim Americans, as well as those perceived to be Muslim. Muslim Americans are our friends and family members, our doctors and nurses, our police officers and firefighters. They own businesses and teach in classrooms,” she said.
“Thousands of them have fought for the American flag. Many have died defending it. And yet, too often – especially in the last year, following a number of tragic terrorist incidents, and amidst an increase in divisive and fearful rhetoric – we have seen Muslim Americans targeted and demonized simply because of their faith,” Lynch said.
Pointing to a “disturbing” 67 per cent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2015, she called the rise a “sobering indication of how much more work remains to be done.”
“Behind every number is a person. Behind every statistic is someone whose rights have been violated,” Lynch said.
“When one of us falls, we all have to step up without regard for our own safety. When one of us is threatened, we all have to speak out,” she added.
“Cornerstone of our work is investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against Muslims as well of those who are perceived to be Muslims. It was of course 9/11, the first individual to be targeted in a perceived Muslim attack was in fact a Sikh individual. Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed on September 15, 2001.
“Muslim Americans, Sikh Americans and Hindu Americans, all practitioners of all faiths – You are friends, You are family members,” she said.
Rajwant Singh, senior advisor to the National Sikh Campaign, said, the Sikh community has faced many challenges in the past and this will not deter them to practice their faith.
“All immigrants and faith communities have strengthened this country. We must work together to create safe spaces for our children so they do not live in a fearful environment and are not afraid to stand for themselves,” Singh said.