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.
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.