SAALT Statement on 18th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sep­tem­ber 11, 2019 

Today, 18 years after Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, we mourn the lives lost that day, and the thou­sands who were and con­tin­ue to be vio­lent­ly tar­get­ed in the ensu­ing “War on Ter­ror.”

Just four days after 9/11, Bal­bir Singh Sod­hi, a Sikh busi­ness own­er, was plant­i­ng flow­ers out­side of his gas sta­tion in Mesa, Ari­zona when he was shot and killed.  We lat­er learned that his shoot­er had report­ed­ly told a wait­ress at Apple­bees “I’m going to go out and shoot some tow­el heads,” and “We should kill their chil­dren, too, because they’ll grow up to be like their par­ents.” This was the first of 645 inci­dents of vio­lent back­lash aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­cans in just that first week after 9/11.

Over the last two decades, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has enact­ed poli­cies repeat­ed­ly jus­ti­fy­ing the racial pro­fil­ing of South Asian, Mus­lim, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and those racial­ized as such. This includes the very cre­ation of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, the Patri­ot Act, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem, Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism, and the Mus­lim Ban to name a few.  These state sanc­tioned poli­cies were his­tor­i­cal­ly per­fect­ed on the backs of oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, and we can­not sep­a­rate them from the con­tin­ued vio­lence our com­mu­ni­ties face from orga­nized white suprema­cist action. 

Ear­li­er this year, a white suprema­cist killed 51 peo­ple at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Just last month, a white suprema­cist shot and killed 22 peo­ple in a Wal­mart shop­ping cen­ter in El Paso, Texas. SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed over 500 acts of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties and over 270 instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric since Novem­ber 2016 alone.

Despite the par­al­lel efforts to ban, deport, crim­i­nal­ize, and tar­get our com­mu­ni­ties with vio­lence, we still have oppor­tu­ni­ties to reclaim our pow­er:

  • Demand that your Mem­ber of Con­gress REJECT the cre­ation of NEW domes­tic ter­ror­ism charges to fight white suprema­cy. This would only serve to fur­ther harm com­mu­ni­ties of col­or who have always been the tar­gets of such poli­cies.  
  • Join the fight to repeal the Mus­lim Ban by sup­port­ing the No Mus­lim Ban Ever cam­paign and DEMAND Con­gress to pass the NO BAN Act. Stay tuned for more infor­ma­tion on the Sep­tem­ber 24th Con­gres­sion­al hear­ing on the Mus­lim Ban.
  • URGE your Mem­ber of Con­gress to sup­port the Khalid Jabara Heather Hey­er NO HATE Act, a com­pre­hen­sive bill that pro­motes more accu­rate hate crimes data col­lec­tion and would pro­vide sup­port for hate crime vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. It is named in hon­or of two recent vic­tims of hate crimes, whose deaths were omit­ted from the FBI hate crimes sta­tis­tics.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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SAALT Statement on the Rise of Hindu Nationalism

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.SPeo­ple 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.  

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