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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

U.S. State Department: Partnerships with U.S. Muslim, Sikh Leaders Boost Law Enforcement

“Our country is more secure today because law enforcement and America’s Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian communities are working more closely together,” according to Homeland Security’s Daniel W. Sutherland.

“We sincerely hope and expect that those relationships will deepen and strengthen as the years progress,” the officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the Department of Homeland Security said, introducing a panel on security enhancement through community involvement at the National Press Club in Washington September 15.

Addressing the group, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Wan Kim called the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States “ a seminal event in the nation’s history” and deplored post-9/11 hate crimes against Arab and Sikh Americans. Among the most effective tools to counter such incidents are outreach programs to the Arab and South Asian American community leaders, he said, adding that cooperation with federal, state and local law enforcement officials has enhanced protection of civil rights in their communities and brought criminals to justice.

Kim cited the examples of James Herrick, who attempted to burn down a Pakistani restaurant in Salt Lake City; Frank Roque, who gunned down Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh, in a Mesa, Arizona, service station; and an Iowa Marriot hotel that, under false pretences, canceled an agreement to host an American Syrian and Lebanese group’s annual convention. Kim said there was redress in each case: Herrick was sentenced to five years in prison; Roque was sentenced to death; and the Marriot apologized, paid $100,000 in compensation and instituted training for its employees in cultural sensitivity. [Link]

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