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Statement Denouncing Brutal Hate Crime And Calling For An End To Private And Public Profiling

July 15, 2004 My name is Udi Ofer. I speak today on behalf of the NYCLU to offer our support to Mr. Rajinder Singh Khalsa and his family. They are the latest victims of a growing epidemic that continues to spread since September 11, 2001, where innocent individuals are targeted and profiled because of their religion, ethnicity or national origin. Mr. Khalsa was beaten to unconsciousness last Sunday because his attackers associated him with terrorists. Why did they make the association? Because he is a Sikh man who wears a turban. The attack represents a heinous crime, and one that is all too common since September 11. Since that tragic day, we’ve witnessed Muslim cab drivers beaten, college students burned and stabbed, and pedestrians beaten on the street for looking Middle Eastern. Yet as we denounce those who attacked Mr. Khalsa, we must ask important questions at the heart of this issue: what is the government’s responsibility in propagating a climate that’s ripe for hate crimes? If the government engages in widespread profiling, what sort of message does it send its citizenry? The attack on Mr. Khalsa represents an instance of profiling by private individuals, yet since September 11, and in the name of national security, we’ve also witnessed widespread profiling by the government, targeting members of the Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities. Under the Special Registration program, over 82,000 Arab, Muslim and South Asian men were interrogated and registered by the government. Thirteen thousands are now in deportation proceedings. None were ever charged with terrorism. And in the days and weeks following September 11, hundreds of Arab, Muslim and South Asian men who were rounded-up and treated as terrorists, many subjected to prolonged detention without charges, 23-hour lockdown in solitary confinement, and to a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by the hands of prison guards. All were cleared of terrorism charges after being held for months. The NYCLU condemns profiling in all its forms, whether by private or public actors. We will work with government officials in the upcoming weeks and months to ensure that profiling is not tolerated, and that those who are victims of profiling are afforded opportunities to report the allegations and receive the justice that they deserve.

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