September 10, 2019
SAALT is deeply concerned by the actions of the Narendra Modi government of India and the impact of its Hindu nationalist agenda on not only communities living in the region but also South Asian Americans living in the U.S.
Religious minorities and vulnerable populations in the region have faced high levels of discrimination and exclusion in India, particularly after Modi’s recent re-election. In Kashmir, residents are living under a 37 day communications blockade and being stripped of both their political rights and human rights; in Assam, the government has implemented a citizenship documentation system that deliberately excludes nearly 1.9 million people, mostly Muslims; and across the country there has been a surge in the number of lynchings of minorities, mostly Muslims, Dalits and Christians, under Modi’s leadership.
The Modi government is implementing a Hindu nationalist agenda, known as Hindutva, a political ideology that is divergent from the pluralistic practices and beliefs of Hinduism itself. Hindutva, or right wing Hindu nationalism, is rooted in the alarming notion that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others. Similar to white supremacy, which South Asians (including Hindus) in the United States contend regularly with, Hindutva threatens the rights, bodies, freedoms, and livelihoods of non-Hindus in India.
The current situation in India, fueled by nationalism and Hindutva, has global implications. For example, over the past five years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Indian nationals seeking asylum in the U.S. People seeking asylum from persecution range from Sikh political activists to LGBT activists to those facing caste oppression. They flee to the U.S. seeking refuge from persecution in India, but often face brutal conditions upon arrival to the U.S. SAALT works to support asylum seekers who are caught in a cruel detention system.
South Asians in the United States have a responsibility to speak up and take action, especially now given the dire situation in Kashmir and the upcoming trip by Prime Minister Modi to the United States. We urge South Asians to raise awareness about the implications and impact of Hindutva, and to lend your voices to the chorus of people raising concerns. We urge South Asian Americans to understand the connections between white supremacy and Hindutva, to unite around human rights, to support policies that uphold dignity and inclusion for all, and to denounce hate violence in all its forms.
On this day exactly seven years ago, a known white supremacist opened fire with a 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun in the Oak Creek, WI gurdwara, and killed six people. We are still mourning the devastating impact of this violence today. Just this weekend, white male shooters claimed 31 lives in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. The El Paso shooter published an online manifesto inspired by the mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand and echoing the Trump Administration’s daily onslaught of racist rhetoric and policy.
There were 2,009 hate crimes in 30 of the country’s largest cities in 2018 – the highest number in the past decade. Last year marked the 5th consecutive increase in hate crimes, the steepest rise since 2015, according to police data analyzed by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Statements and repeated condemnations are not enough. White supremacist violence is killing people of color and immigrants. Any elected official refusing to acknowledge this problem and consider legislation that confronts this violence is complicit. We demand our elected officials and law enforcement agencies track the threat of organized white supremacy as a systemic issue and that they address the root causes of hate violence. We refuse to view these as isolated incidents and will continue working to dismantle all systems that perpetuate this violence, fueled by the illegitimate white supremacist claim to our nation’s stolen land.
We send love to our Sikh family and all survivors of hate on this extremely difficult day and fortify our commitment to “Chardi Kala” as we fight for justice.
Here’s what you can do today to support survivors of hate:
*Donate to help survivors and families of victims. The El Paso Community Foundation is accepting donations here.
*Offer support locally in El Paso here.
*Connect with organizations like Hope Border Institute (@HopeBorder) and NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (@OrganizeNM) who are offering resources and organizing vigils for survivors who cannot seek medical treatment due to fear of being targeted by immigration authorities.
* Write a letter to the editor or essay in your local newspaper about ongoing hate violence and how it affects us all
* Send a message of support to the Oak Creek Gurdwara
* Contact your public official and ask them to support the Khalid Jabara & Heather Heyer NO HATE ACT
UPDATE, July 10th
Earlier this week, we put out a call for volunteers to assist with an outreach effort to provide food and restaurant workers from the South Asian community with “know your rights” resources. The alert was prompted by community reports about an immigration enforcement action targeting workers in the restaurant industry over the past week in DC. Out of respect for those directly affected, we are not providing any additional information at this time. We will continue our work to protect and defend our communities, especially at a time when immigrants are being targeted, whether at workplaces and homes or at the border.
July 8, 2019
An Indian restaurant in DC was raided by ICE last week. Several Hindi speaking employees were taken to the Montgomery County jail in Maryland.
Given the prospect of immigration raids in the DC area, we are calling for volunteers to join us for an outreach effort on July 13th and 14th.
SAALT is seeking volunteers to help with outreach, translation, and legal counsel. Click here for immediate steps you can take.
SAALT’s 2018 report documents hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017. SAALT documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States, of which an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. The 302 incidents are a more than 45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11.
SAALT and our allies are tracking hate crimes committed against South Asian, Sikh, Muslim and Arab communities.
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