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Hindu Americans, Researchers, Lawmakers Discuss Rising ‘Hinduphobia’ at Hindu Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

Hindu Americans, Researchers, Lawmakers Discuss Rising ‘Hinduphobia’ at Hindu Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

  • Hosted by the Coalition of Hindus of North America, the daylong event saw residents from 12 states across the country interacting with and hearing from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Hindu Americans, researchers, and lawmakers discussed concerns the community faces at the second National Hindu Advocacy Day hosted by the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA)  on Capitol Hill last week. More than 21 lawmakers attended the daylong July 14 event “which centered on Hinduphobia,” the advocacy and civil rights organization said in a press release. It described Hinduphobia as “a problem that has been amplified via caste laws and policies that seek to profile Hindus in America.” It is also connected with “the rising levels of online hate from a globally connected set of networks associated with Khalistani and Islamist terror, which at times spills over into real life violence,” the press release added. 

Residents from 12 states across the country interacted with and heard from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Rep. Hank Johnson( D-Ga.), Rep.Tom Keane( R-N.J.), Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.), Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Mich.), Rep. Buddy Carter( R-Ga.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga), as well as Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani.

“Echoing concerns from the attendees, Rep.McCormick emphasized the need to pay attention to how there is discrimination not just by race but also by religion and Hinduphobia and intimidation of the Hindu community is an old problem.,” CoHNA said. He went on to highlight problems with new laws and bills like California’s SB403 being discussed that “are racist, discriminatory and divisive, since they seek to classify people in ways that the people themselves reject. This is not American and needs to be opposed,” he said.

Rep. Thanedar said he “believes strongly in freedom of religion for every individual and stand against any kind of attacks and phobia,” according to the press release. He also spoke of the importance of ensuring representation for diverse groups and freedom of religion. “The Hindu religion is a peaceful one, yet it has been attacked and needs to be protected. Like others, Hindus deserve to be able to practice their religion without any kind of hate, prejudice, or phobia. As a Congressman I myself noted the lack of a Hindu caucus and therefore helped create one.”

The conference also took “a data-driven approach,” and showcased academics like Prof. Salvatore Babones, who leads an international think tank, as well as senior researchers from Rutgers University’s Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI). The day wrapped up with an evening event where additional speakers from diverse backgrounds of faith and regions shared their findings and lived experiences.

According to CoHNA president Nikunj Trivedi, “It’s been a productive year of advocacy for the Hindu community with states like Georgia and cities as far apart as Fremont, California and Memphis, Tennessee, seeking to educate about the problem with resolutions and proclamations against Hinduphobia.” He continued:  “We also witnessed history as the growing popularity of Hindu festivals like Diwali led to the successful declaration of the festival as a holiday in New York City public schools,” said Nikunj Trivedi, President of CoHNA.” He said the second annual conference on the Hill “builds on that promising start, but much more remains to be done as the community has seen itself come in the crosshairs, with the spread of policies and laws targeting the community via Hinduphobic concepts like caste..”

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