The New York Civil Liberties Union today expressed dismay over the vicious bias assault perpetrated against a young Pakistani man in the Midwood section of Brooklyn last Sunday, October 29th.
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU, noted that the attack on Shahid Amber was "by no means the first such attack, but rather the latest in a far too long list of ethnic or religious attacks against South Asians, Arabs and Muslims since the terrorist attacks five years ago."
"Police officials must investigate and prosecute this case thoroughly and fairly and must hold the perpetrators accountable for their reprehensible acts," Lieberman said.
"But it is also critical that we examine the causes of attacks such as this," Lieberman continued. "Young people are not born to hate or to stereotype people based on their perceived ethnicity or religion -- but they do learn by example. And our government has set a terrible example that has fueled racism and forced thousands of peaceful law abiding people in the Midwood section of Brooklyn and elsewhere to live in fear."
Lieberman cited a number of instances in which the government itself has engaged in profiling, including:
- the roundups and brutal detentions in the months following September 11th, 2001, which decimated the South Asian community in Midwood;
- the detention at the border of dozens of Muslim Americans returning from a religious conference in Canada in December 2004; and
- the special registration and FBI interrogations programs, which targeted immigrant men from South Asian and Muslim countries.
"It's time for us as a nation to take a hard look at our government's policy of using profiling as a substitute for effective anti-terrorism law enforcement and to demand real anti-profiling policies," Lieberman said.
She also encouraged all schools -- whether private or public, secular or religious -- to develop programs that affirmatively build tolerance and understanding across racial, ethnic and religious divides.
"It's incumbent upon educators and upon our government to develop innovative educational programming that will help put an end to the religious and ethnic violence that does so much harm both to the individuals targeted in hate crimes and to the very fabric of our society," Lieberman said.