Sunday Madison Square Garden Rally to condemn attacks on US business interests; IMC-USA asks AAHOA and AIANA to do damage control
March 19, 2005
The Indian Muslim Council-USA, an advocacy group working towards protecting and promoting minority rights in India and a founding member of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), has condemned the attacks by Hindutva activists on American business interests in India. The attacks came in the wake of denial and revocation of Narendra Modi’s visa to the US, by the State Department, based on the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Narendra Modi, the chief executive of the Indian state of Gujarat, had been indicted by various Indian and International human rights organizations for his role in the pogroms directed at the Muslim community in Gujarat in 2002. The pogroms led to the massacre of 2000 people and the rape and sexual mutilation of women and children. The Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA) had invited Narendra Modi, as a guest of honor at its annual convention. The Association of Indian Americans of North America (AIANA) also had plans to felicitate Narendra Modi during his US visit.
IMC-USA demands that the Hindutva supporters among AAHOA and AIANA ask their counterparts in India to refrain from their attacks on US business interests located in India. The supporters of Narendra Modi in US, who had planned events to honor him, must influence the Modi supporters in India to put a stop to Anti-American violence.
AAHOA, as stated by its founder Chairman Mike Patel, has decided to cancel its invitation to Narendra Modi following the decision of the Bush administration to deny him visa to travel to US. IMC-USA welcomes this action, but felt that damage has already been done to the Indian American community. “AAHOA’s decision to invite Narendra Modi has dishonored the victims of the 2002 Gujarat pogroms and has hurt the moral standing of the Indian American business community”, said Rasheed Ahmed, Vice-President of IMC-USA.
Ahmed also expressed fears that the spate of violent activities started by Modi supporters in India, now primarily anti-American, could spill over into assaults on Christians and Muslims, particularly in the context of the Swabhiman rally. Such rallies in the past have been known to increase fear and insecurity for minorities and even encourage violence against them by the extremist Hindutva activists.
IMC-USA asks AAHOA and AIANA to alleviate this damage by countering the hatred in Gujarat by taking out adverts against religious extremism in the Indian media and providing anti-hatred literature in Indian schools. AAHOA and AIANA must also work to educate their membership about the human rights situation in Gujarat, and to contribute to the rehabilitation of the victims of the 2002 violence. IMC-USA also asks the AAHOA leadership to step down since their decision to invite Narendra Modi, despite opposition from many of the association members, has caused disservice to the Indian American hoteliers.
Zeeshan Farees, a spokesperson for IMC-USA, said: “IMC-USA believes that protecting human rights is a universal duty of all human beings. IMC-USA appeals to people of Indian origin in the US to speak out against the fringe extremist groups who violate the pluralist ethos of India and endanger Indian-Americans by supporting the supremacist Hindutva hate ideology and the Hindutva leaders such as Modi.”
IMC-USA will reiterate these demands at the rally to protest the continued support being given to Narendra Modi by chauvinist Hindutva elements in the US. Modi who has incited hatred against America in India will be addressing his supporters gathered in Madison Square garden theatre via a satellite link on Sunday, March 20, 2005.
What: Press conference at 3:30 PM EST
Rally 4 PM to 6 PM EST
Where: In front of Madison Square Garden Theatre
7th Avenue between 31 and 32 Streets in Manhattan (near Penn Station)
When: Sunday, March 20, 2005
Organizers: Coalition Against Genocide (http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org)
Secretary General, IMC-USA
265 Sunrise Highway, suite 1-355
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
(516) 567- 0783