Muslims, Sikhs face racial discrimination in US

Authorities targeting of people because of their racial background or religious affiliation is a deep-rooted problem in the US, with nearly 32 million people, including Sikhs and Muslims reporting they've been racially profiled, a human rights group on Tuesday alleged.

The report by Amnesty International US also said at least 87 million people one in three in the US are at high risk of being victimized because they belong to a racial, ethnic or religious group whose members are commonly targeted by police for unlawful stops and searches.

Racial profiling is a growing problem as the government has expanded its war on terror, the report said. Police, immigration and airport security procedures are the areas where the problem has gotten worse since the September 11, 2001, attacks, it said.

Citizens and visitors of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, and others who appear to be from these areas or members of the Muslim and Sikh faiths, have become more frequent subjects of racial profiling over the last three years, the study claimed.

Such racial profiling is a distraction to law enforcement and therefore, undermines national security efforts, the report said. As police primarily focus on Arab, Muslim and South Asian males, it said, they are more likely to overlook terrorists who are white.

For example, recent cases of American Taliban John Walker Lindh and British shoe bomber Richard Reid show that al-Qaeda has an ability to recruit a diverse range of sympathizers. These two would not necessarily have been identified by policies that focus on Arab, Muslim and South Asian males, the report said.