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In solidarity with those being silenced by HAF for resisting the Hindu right and Hindutva in America

Statement from academics and scholars

Wednesday 26 May 2021, by siawi3

Source: http://sacw.net/article14669.html

In solidarity with those being silenced by HAF for resisting the Hindu right and Hindutva in America

Statement from academics and scholars

May 20, 2021

Over 300 academics, scholars, and writers from across the world have endorsed a statement expressing solidarity with two co-founders of Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and other individuals who have been targeted by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) with a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuit.

via Hindus for Human Rights Blog, May 20, 2021

Over 300 academics, scholars, and writers from across the world have endorsed a statement expressing solidarity with two co-founders of Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and other individuals who have been targeted by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) with a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuit.

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STATEMENT:

We stand in solidarity with Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and deplore efforts to silence an important alternative and inclusive Hindu voice in the diaspora.

We are alarmed by the news that Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), specifically co-founders Sunita Viswanath and Raju Rajagopal, have been sued by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). They, along with Indian American Muslim Council executive director Rasheed Ahmed, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America chairman John Prabhudoss, and Rutgers University professor Audrey Truschke, have been accused of defamation and conspiracy to defame HAF.

Viswanath and Rajagopal exercised their right to free speech by commenting on the matter of disbursement of federal COVID relief federal funds to several Hindutva-aligned organizations. (See HAF’s complaint here: https://tinyurl.com/5hcxdrnk)

Almost every minute, India’s Covid stories send us deeper into grief, but Covid is not the only poison attacking India. Equally troubling is the drive of “Hindutva,” or Hindu nationalism. Going directly against constitutional guarantees of equality and democratic rights, Hindutva wants supremacy for India’s Hindu majority and acceptance by Muslims, Christians, and others of second-class citizenship. Moreover, Hindutva is an authoritarian ideology, having no tolerance for peaceful dissent or debate, the very qualities that underline a democracy.

Many are aware that the Hindutva thrust is worryingly similar to the rise of white supremacy in the U.S. But a clear majority of Indian Americans believe in equal rights and voted for a change in the US administration. And now, a considerable section of Indian Americans also oppose Hindutva and demand equal rights for all citizens of India. HfHR is a crucial voice on their behalf. Unfortunately, given the support for Hindutva in influential sections of the Indian American community, attempts are being made to legally harass or discredit HfHR.

These efforts must be resolutely opposed. In the U.S. and in India, forces working for exclusionary and majoritarian forces must be resisted and defeated. In particular, the resources of the U.S. should not be allowed to directly or indirectly aid the anti-democratic project for Hindutva-supremacy in India.

HfHR and other organizations are fully justified in asking for scrutiny to ensure that aid from U.S. tax payers, whether for Covid-related assistance in India or for any other purpose, to U.S.-based community organizations, do not end up supporting supremacist causes in either country.

The parallel battles in the U.S. and in India to preserve democratic rights are very closely interconnected. Everyone in the U.S., including Hindu Americans, must have the fullest freedom to support efforts for equal rights and democracy everywhere, and especially in India, the country where Hindu traditions emerged. We applaud the steps taken by the Biden administration to aid of India as the second wave of Covid is threatens to destroy the social fabric of India. Speaking out against the threat to human rights and religious freedom in India are no less important.

We strongly condemn any efforts to curb or restrict HfHR’s activities or to silence HfHR and its allies, and we earnestly hope that the courts will quickly rule in favor of HfHR’s First Amendment right to free speech.

Full List of 300+ Endorsements here

Please endorse this statement here: https://forms.gle/DEZwDKzas8DnV2Th9

Text of the Hindu American Foundation’s Complaint https://tinyurl.com/5hcxdrnk
HfHR’s Response to HAF https://www.hindusforhumanrights.org/en/blog/the-hindu-american-foundation-is-trying-to-silence-us-were-not-backing-down

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