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Exploring restorative justice response to hate crimes against Sikhs

Aug 26, 2009

from Sheebah Singh's blog:

'Diaper head,' 'terrorist,' 'taliban,' 'towel-head' are some of the few names which have been in increased use since 9/11 against those believed to be Muslims or members of the Taliban in the United States as well as in Canada. Although not all, some of the victims in such cases are normally not members of any terrorist group but a part of the Sikh faith which emerges from India with no intention of 'bombing' anything or place- brining no harm to anyone despite the hate crimes being inflicted on the group itself. Through widespread portrayal of the turbaned man as the terrorist or Muslims as the Taliban, various groups who conform to a similar identity (i.e. especially Sikhs) have been attempting to face such hate crimes and misunderstandings in the name of terrorism since 9/11. This paper will attempt to approach the hate crimes which have been inflicted particularly on the Sikh community since the attack on the World Trade Centre, 2001, through a restorative means to seek for answers in order to deal with the victims of attack in addition to the larger community.

Through an advocation of the restorative method, I will argue that such a community based response may guide the North American society to an increased tolerance and understanding of diversity in religions, ethnicity and race that would help to guide those in misunderstandings of the image of a 'taliban' or a 'terrorist' as one different from a man with a turban. Although this paper will push towards no specific method of restorative means, most principles of victim-offender mediation will be primarily looked at for this purpose.

In order to construct a proper argument for the means of this paper, I will initiate with a brief introduction of what I mean by hate crimes, restorative justice and victim offender mediation. Through this, I will be able to highlight the key components of the same which will play important key roles, pushing towards community based response in hate crimes. However, it is also important to rationally study the limitations of such a proposal, and this will be also evaluated. A response to such critique will follow to once again emphasize the importance of community involvement, especially, in such instances of hate crimes which affect various religious and ethnic groups. Finally, with my conclusion, I will be able to assert the need for participation of the victim, offender and community in victim-offender mediation in hate crimes that have occurred and that dialogue, accountability, reintegration and educational awareness are principle in this regard.

Read the whole article.

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