Leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Dalit communities, as well as activists, attending the protest, called on the US government to recognise Hindutva as a threat to minorities and democratic values and initiate action against the Hindutva hate groups in the US.
FRISCO, TEXAS – Nearly 300 people from Frisco, Dallas, and surrounding areas, including members of diverse civil rights and interfaith organisations, held a rally here on December 11 to protest Hindutva hate and anti-Christian persecution in India.
Speakers at the protest, which was held outside Frisco City Council, included leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Dalit communities, as well as activists and city residents, who called on the US government to recognise Hindutva as a threat to minorities and democratic values and initiate action against the Hindutva hate groups in the US.
The rally was organised after the Frisco-based group, Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF), held a fundraiser last month to demolish 75 churches in India.
Justin Sabu, a pastor at Zion Church, thanked protesters for gathering in support of India’s 27 million Christians, who face ongoing persecution from Hindutva groups in India. He also recounted a story from his childhood when he was beaten in his home city of Bengaluru in the southern Indian state of Karnataka by a group of Hindu extremists.
“We all are hurt,” Pastor Sabu told the crowd of men, women, and children holding American and Indian flags.
“We cannot allow what has happened in India to follow us here in the United States of America. So, we stand against every hatred that is coming from any organisation, against any spiritual house of worship.”
Daniel Mutyala, a longtime Frisco resident, warned that the demolition of churches is already underway in Tirupati, a north Indian city where GHHF planned to send its funds.
“The jury is about to give permission to destroy the churches,” said Mutyala. “It can happen anytime. If they can destroy the churches, tomorrow they can destroy the mosque. [GHHF] raising funds to destroy the Christians and Muslims in India is not acceptable. It’s a shame for them to do that, but this is not over. This is just the beginning. We will continue to fight.”
Atul Shinde, representing the Ambedkarite Buddhist Association of Texas (ABAT), condemned the GHHF fundraiser to demolish churches in India and said: “I want to ask – who has given you the right to raise funds to demolish churches? This activity itself is illegal, as it is against the Indian constitution.”
“In the name of dharma (religion), what ideas are you going to spread? It will not spread love, but hatred,” he added.
“Organisations like the GHHF are the product of a skewed cult thinking that only religions with roots in India should be allowed to remain [there], while Muslims and Christians need to be subjugated [or] perish,” said prominent Indian-American journalist Vijaylakshmi Nadar. “There are thousands of groups [with this same ideology] who also need to be identified.”
“The Global Hindu Heritage Foundation… exposed to America the agenda that has taken root in India: the annihilation of religious minorities,” said Pieter Friedrich, an activist and journalist. “India today is being turned from the world’s largest democracy into the world’s largest fascist state.”
Adding that the GHHF is only “the tip of the toxic iceberg” when it comes to US-based Hindutva groups, Friedrich said: “These organisations… are aiding and abetting the regime in India. Any day now, the daily beatings and lynchings of Muslims could turn into outright genocide. Any day now, the daily attacks we see perpetrated against Indian Christians, especially when they are gathering for Sunday services, could turn into a massacre.”
“What the Hindu nationalist movement doesn’t expect is that from different religions, different races, and from all kinds of different backgrounds… we will push back to protect freedom, to spread peace, and to defeat fascism,” he concluded
Addressing the leadership of GHHF, Jagdish, a local resident, said: “Already you guys have destroyed all our minority people, all our untouchable people are kept separate. Still, you wanted to see [a new] India by destroying churches, by destroying mosques.”
“[Christians and Muslims] shared all the joys together in childhood. Now we have to share the grief of demolition of sacred places,” said Zehra Kamal, a member of the Frisco Muslim community. “As an American Muslim of Indian origin, I want to say we love our Indian Christian friends and we stand with them in this difficult time.”
“Hindutva is trying to destroy peace on American soil as well,” said Sayeed, another protester. “We are here to try and restore that peace,” he added.
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) has also reiterated calls by the Indian Christian community and their allies in Frisco and urged federal and state law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the GHHF and their role in funding hate and violence against religious minorities in India.