Policies adopted by the US government after 9/11 attacks have created an atmosphere of fear for South Asians, members of the communities have said as the nation prepares to observe the 10th anniversary of the terrorist strike of the twin towers in New York.
"While some of the extreme violence against South Asians, Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs occurred immediately after 9/11, we come together here to share the way that post-9/11 policies have created an atmosphere of fear for many community members," said Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of South Asian Network at a hearing in Artesia, California, over the weekend.
"Daily tasks taken for granted, like a young girl walking home from school or a taxi driver taking a customer around town, became difficult then and still remain difficult. Now, add in today's growing anti-immigrant sentiment. We need to meet at this historic moment and remind ourselves what we can do," Kulkarni said at the hearing co-sponsored by South Asian Americans Leading Together and State of California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs.
"I was held at gun point and called a 'bloody f*ing Arab' and a 'Stupid Muslim' in my own Los Angeles grocery store," says Mujibar Badal, a community member who experienced a hate crime in November 2001.
"I could not walk back into that store for a year and even now, ten years later, I still have trouble sleeping at night," he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Congresswoman Judy Chu stressed on the need to continue to speak out about the discrimination faced by South Asian Americans and other Americans since 9/11.
"We must make sure that it does not go unnoticed and build larger coalitions of people who will stand up when racial and religious profiling happens," she said.
"As we approach the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, it is important for us as a community and nation to recommit ourselves to the fundamental American value of Justice for All," said California Assembly member Mike Eng.
"Nearly a decade has passed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but many South Asians are still living with the lingering effects of racism and anti-Islamic fervor," he said.