OFMI – Joint Hindu-Muslim delegation thanks Ro Khanna for rejecting Hindutva

Meeting follows RSS-affiliated protest against Hindu-American congressman

Washington DC – USA, 22 October 2019. A joint delegation of Hindu and Muslim organizational leaders met with US Congressman Ro Khanna on 21 0ctober to thank him for his recent statement rejecting the political ideology of Hindutva.

Rasheed Ahmed and Ajit Sahi of Indian American Muslim Council joined Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights at Khanna’s office in Washington DC. According to HHR, they “expressed solidarity and support for his commitment to pluralism and justice for all.”

Khanna earned their gratitude for his 29 August Tweet: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists & Christians.”

Hindutva, defined by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as an ideology that treats non-Hindus as foreign to India, is the guiding philosophy of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Modi’s political party (BJP) and its cultural counterpart organizations (RSS, VHP, etc.) form the backbone of the Hindutva movement,” noted Amar Shergill last month.

An attorney who serves as an executive board member of the California Democratic Party, Shergill added, “Hindutva is a fascist and supremacist movement similar to white supremacist movements in the US.

It mobilizes around a virulent religious ethno-nationalism, holding that India is a homeland for only Hindus and uses violence to intimidate compliance around its economic and political policies.”

Not all supported Khanna’s statement

On 03 October, approximately 25-30 people protested Khanna at a town hall event near San Jose, California. According to event organizers, most were allegedly members of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the overseas wing of the RSS. They displayed signs denouncing Shergill as well as Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs.

Khanna’s call to “reject Hindutva” was posted in response to an article by Friedrich about US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s association with Hindutva organizations.

HSS protests Ro Khanna

“Congressman Khanna set an example for his colleagues by braving the heat to stand strong against supremacy,” comments Organization for Minorities of India spokesperson Arvin Valmuci. “He should do much more. The best way to reject Hindutva is to lead the charge against its devious agenda.

We call on Khanna to join his colleagues like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in challenging the Modi regime’s devastation of human rights in Kashmir.

We also urge Khanna to take action to expose the foreign interference of the Overseas Friends of BJP in America’s sovereign elections, such as the way they have meddled with the campaign of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Words speak louder than actions.”

“Hindutva is responsible for an endless cycle of violence against non-Hindus in India,” says Brian Isai, an activist with OFMI. “One of the worst recent incidents of mass violence against Christians, though, happened in 2009 when the BJP’s opposition was in power.

The United States needs to make human rights the touchstone of a relationship with India. Congressman Khanna should put his money where his mouth is and introduce an updated version of 2013’s House Resolution 417, which would require US government dialogue with India to be based on religious freedom and related human rights issues.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

Visit OFMI.org for more information


Pieter Friedrich – Howdy Modi: shameful for American politicians to participate

Speaking at “Adios Modi” protest announcement at CAIR-Houston

On 21 September 2019, I joined a diverse coalition gathered under the banner of Alliance for Justice and Accountability for a press conference at the CAIR-Houston office to announce an #AdiosModi protest of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 22 September #HowdyModi pep rally at the NRG Stadium in Houston, TX, USA.

Participants included myself, as well as the Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, Black Lives Matter Houston, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Indivisible Houston, AZAAD Austin, and a number of other activists.

“The ‘Howdy Modi,’ event is intended as a propaganda bonanza for an authoritarian ruler,” I stated during my remarks. “The event’s main organizers and promoters are leaders within the international wings of the RSS and the BJP. It’s shameful for any American politician to participate in a self-promotional event hosted by a pogrom-tainted foreign leader on US soil.”

My full remarks were as follows:

Yesterday evening, Congressman Brad Sherman confirmed that he was dropping out of “Howdy Modi.” His decision was especially shocking considering not only that he is co-chair of the India Caucus but also that he recently wrote to his colleagues in US Congress to urge them to join the event.

Also yesterday evening, Houston-based Congressman Pete Olson doubled-down on his commitment to attending the event, writing, “Howdy Modi is about unity, not division.”

Congressman Olson’s short-sighted remarks overlook that, while a shared commitment to the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness do have the potential to bring the United States, India, and Texas closer together, what we are currently seeing Mr. Modi inflict upon Kashmir is occupation, torture, and death.

Modi’s actions in Kashmir are merely one of many examples of how and why “Howdy Modi” is a divisive event which is driving a wedge between the incredibly diverse South Asian communities of Houston, of Texas, and of America.

“Howdy Modi” is a partisan Indian political event designed to promote Modi abroad in order to distract attention from the atrocities of his totalitarian regime in India.

Most recently, Modi annexed Kashmir. His regime has mass arrested the entire civil society of Kashmir. The region remains under a communications blackout.

In Assam, Modi has made nearly 2 million Indians, primarily Muslims, stateless after stripping them of citizenship. He is currently constructing massive detention camps for these newly-declared “foreigners.”

Since 2014, and especially since Modi’s reelection in 2019, India has suffered a wave of lynchings of minorities, mostly Muslim and Dalits, in the name of “cow protection” and, more recently, in the name of the Hindu deity Ram.

Furthermore, Modi’s regime recently announced plans to introduce a national law to criminalize religious freedom.

Meanwhile, in the United States, just last month, a white supremacist terrorist murdered 22 people in El Paso, Texas.

His evil act was inspired by the murder of 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

That man’s evil act was inspired by the murder of 77 people in Norway in 2011.

In Norway, terrorist Anders Breivik left a manifesto that describes how he was inspired by other extremist and nationalist groups around the globe. Breivik pointed to the RSS in India.

He praised the “right wing Hindu nationalism” of the RSS and its goal of making India into a “Hindu nation.” He praised the RSS for how “they dominate the streets and often riot and attack Muslims.” He said that the goals of white supremacists and the RSS are “identical” and that they should “learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible.”

The RSS is a fascist paramilitary founded in 1925, the same year that Hitler published Mein Kampf, reformulated the Nazi Party, and oversaw creation of the SS.

The RSS developed with inspiration from the Nazis. It modeled itself after them in appearance, adopting a uniform that closely resembles that of the Hitler Youth. It also modeled itself after them in ideology.

For instance, the RSS’s longest-serving leader wrote, “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here.”

He called this “a good lesson for us, to learn and profit by.” He further described those who do not “glorify the Hindu Race and Nation” as “traitors” and called it treason for an Indian to not be a Hindu.

Modi, who began his public life in the RSS, calls the author of these remarks his “guru worthy of worship.”

Considering that the RSS produced Modi, it is not surprising that, in 2002, he presided as soldiers of the RSS massacred 2,000 Muslims. They gang-raped women, hacked people to death, burned people alive. Leaders of the pogrom later confessed on camera that Modi sanctioned their violence.

For this reason, Modi was banned from entering the USA for over 10 years.

Today, under Modi’s iron-fisted regime, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and every Hindu who disagrees with the hate, violence, and supremacy of the RSS lives in fear of their lives.

The “Howdy Modi” event is intended as a propaganda bonanza for an authoritarian ruler. Thus, the event’s main organizers and promoters are leaders within the international wings of the RSS and the BJP.

This especially includes Vijay Chauithawale, the BJP’s Foreign Affairs Cell Chief, who has been overseeing organization of “Howdy Modi.”

It’s shameful for any American politician to participate in a self-promotional event hosted by a pogrom-tainted foreign leader on US soil. Modi’s hands are stained with blood. Those who shake his hand in welcome cannot wash their hands of complicity in his crimes.

As Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

So what then do we say of those standing with the oppressor? The proper response to “Howdy Modi” is “Adios Modi.”

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.
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