US lawmaker raises alarm over spike in attacks on Hinduism

Washington, April 16 (IANS): An Indian-descent lawmaker has raised alarm over a “substantial increase” in attacks on Hinduism and Hindu places of worship in the US and expressed frustration at the failure of law enforcement agencies to find and book those responsible.

He urged the administration to accord “higher priority” to these “hate crimes”.

Shri Thanedar, a Democrat elected to the House of Representatives from Michigan state, has together with four other Indian-descent lawmakers Ro Khanna, Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi asked the Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, for a briefing on the investigation into these attacks.

“Today, I am seeing in the United States a substantial increase in attacks on Hinduism. A lot of misinformation is being circulated whether it is online or otherwise. Our community continues to be misrepresented, misunderstood, sometimes, deliberately,” the lawmaker said.

Thanedar is a practicing Hindu and the founding chair of the Hindu Caucus in the US Congress.

“Having practiced Hinduism and having grown as a Hindu in a Hindu household, I know what Hinduism is. It is a very peaceful religion and its people practice their religion in a peaceful, compassionate and caring manner. It is not a religion that attacks. Ours is not a religion which is aggressive towards others. It is a very inclusive religion. Ours is a very inclusive community,” he said.

The lawmaker has cited the defacement of temples in California and New York and also arson and vandalism at the Indian embassy in San Francisco as incidents of attacks on the Hindu community.

He said that some members of the community have described these incidents as the manifestation of ongoing Hinduphobia and add to the list the effort to ban caste as a ground for discrimination, calling it an attempt to tarnish the community.

“They opposed but failed to stop the city of Seattle from putting it on its list of banned grounds for discrimination but succeeded in stopping California. They persuaded the Governor, Gavin Newsom, to veto the bill passed by both the house of the state legislature,” he said.

The lawmaker expressed frustration with the investigating agency for their failure to find the culprits behind the incidents at the temples and the consulate.

“It appears to be a very coordinated effort to attack these places of worship which has created a lot of fear in the community. Law enforcement enters into these investigations and rarely any suspects have been identified, and that investigation goes nowhere.

“It leaves the community feeling like nobody cares about them. Nobody reports back to them on what's going on. It means that the community continues to live in fear, the computing community continues to live in an adverse situation with essentially no help from law enforcement.”

The lawmaker said that he and his colleagues are asking the Justice Department for “coordinated efforts between the local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Department of Justice, and higher priority needs to be assigned to such hate crimes against this peaceful community.”



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