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PTI | Washington | Sept 1, 2021:: A prominent American State Senator has strongly condemned hosting of the “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference and described it as an anti-Hindu gathering as several universities asked the organisers to remove their logos from the site of the event which has generated outrage among Hindu Americans.
“This conference represents a disgusting attack on Hindus across the United States, and we must all condemn this as nothing more than racism and bigotry against Hindus. I will always stand strong against Hinduphobia,” Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani said in a statement.
“I am condemning in the strongest possible terms the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ Conference,” he said.
Antani is the youngest Hindu elected official in the history of the United States and is the first Indian American state senator in Ohio history.
Ishani Dasgupta | TNN | Washington | Sept 1, 2021:: Hindu Amereican Foundation (HAF), an Indian American advocacy group with chapters across the United States, is continuing its campaign of sending letters to universities that have been listed as sponsoring an upcoming virtual conference titled Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH), scheduled for September 10–12.
The petition to university and college authorities raises concerns over Hinduphobia. “The DGH organisers trade on the prestige of your institution’s name to host, not an academic conference, but a partisan event related to politics in India. The event platforms activists with extensive histories of amplifying Hinduphobic discourse even while denying the existence of Hinduphobia,” the petition states.
Meanwhile, a prominent Indian American state senator from Ohio, Niraj Antani, has thanked HAF for leading the charge against this bigotry, in a statement. He has himself strongly condemned hosting the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ conference.
HAF’s executive director, Suhag Shukla told timesofindia.com that while the organisation was not asking that the event be cancelled or that scholar-activists from the institutions not be allowed to participate; but institutionally, there was a duty to encourage a diversity of viewpoints alongside academic freedom and free speech.
“We need to be sure that Hindu students, staff, and faculty at each of these institutions are supported through all of this.
The recent example of Rashmi Samant, a student from India in the UK, being stripped of her position as the student union president at Oxford Universty is an overt example of the harm this kind of political activism promulgated by scholar-activists can result in,” Shukla said. She added that there was a more subtle impact of silencing Hindu students or fomenting hostility towards them by portraying them as inherently bigoted and dangerous. “The Hindutva harassment field manual, one of the recommended sources of the dismantling Hindutva conference is particularly concerning in this regard.”
According to a statement by HAF, the event organisers of the conference had, due to public outcry and several direct requests from universities removed the display of logos and replaced it with a list of virtually the same universities with a disclaimer that it was specific departments and centres which were contributing to or sponsoring the event. The actual names of the department or centres, however, were not included, Shukla pointed out.
The initial effort by HAF to send emails to university presidents delivered slightly more than 928,000 emails in the span of 48 hours. The response was so robust that HAF was forced to move to collect signatures for a petition to be delivered to the same group of university administrators.
“We support the rights of academics in their individual capacity to engage in political activism concerning India. But leave universities, and by extension university departments, centres, and institutes out because, aside from potentially violating tax-exempt status, it stifles open enquiry,” said Shukla. “Students and faculty must have the freedom to explore questions, posit ideas, and express opinions without being viewpoint policed or fear of being labelled a “supremacist” or “extremist” by the loudest amongst them and then paying a professional price.”
Four universities responded to HAF’s campaign and confirmed their name and logo was used in an unauthorised manner and that event organisers were requested to remove the logos. These include Boston College, Dalhousie University, Princeton University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
According to HAF: “What was alarming about this event, was the way in which they try to mask the latent Hinduphobia of the stated purpose of the event, the speakers, and the topics. The Hindutva harassment manual actively denies Hinduphobia when there is incontrovertible evidence of anti-Hindu hatred.” The organisation has launched a multipronged effort on this issue, both national and local in America, which includes an unprecedented response through letter-writing campaigns, petitions and individual stakeholder outreach to students, faculty, alumni and donors of the universities.
Read this also: Hinduphobia and Anti-Hindu Hate Glossary
“We urge universities to take this entire episode seriously and understand that their faculty irresponsibly and falsely labelling tens of thousands of people exercising their own right to free speech and assembly as “fascists” and “supremacists” is endangering an ethno-religious minority in the US,” Shukla said.
Courtesy: TOI | HAF | ANI | NewsX.