India Farm Protests: Social Media Expose the Ugly Face of Violent Hindu Extremism

"It’s time to talk about violent Hindu extremism”, said a tweet today from Meena Harris, the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris. Referring to a headline about "violent Christian extremism", Harris said "it's all connected". Hindu trolls have launched hateful misogynistic campaign against Harris and other western female celebrities who have recently tweeted in support of farm protesters. 

In response to a Hindu troll accusing Meena Harris of "Hinduphobia", she tweeted: "I'm a Hindu. Stop using religion as a cover for fascism".  

Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris

It started when singer Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, tweeted “why aren’t we talking about this?!”, with a link to a news story about an internet blackout at the protest camps where tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for over two months. Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also tweeted a story about the internet blackout, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” Both drew threats of rape and violence from hordes of Hindu trolls rampaging Twitter.  Some hailed the 2009 violent assault on Rihanna by singer  Chris Brown and said it was well-deserved. 

Meena Harris Tweet. Source: Twitter


"Is Rihanna Muslim" started to trend on Google. Many Hindu trolls talked of links between Rihanna and Muslims, Khalistan and Pakistan and even claimed  Rihanna was paid to tweet in support of farmers. 

Modi's India Leads the World in Internet Censorship


The phenomenon of Hindu trolls issuing threats of violence and rape is not new.  It has been well documented by Indian journalist Swati Chaturvedi in a book entitled "I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of BJP's Digital Army" as far as 2017. She found that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows hundreds of twitter accounts regularly tweeting abuses and threats of rape and other forms of physical violence against Indian actors, artists, politicians, journalists, minorities in India and individuals of Pakistani origin.

Until recently, the main target of violent Hindu extremists have been primarily Muslims and liberal Hindus. But now the threats of violence and rape against western celebrities are beginning to expose the ugly face of violent Hindu Nationalism. It is  now getting coverage in mainstream western media. 

Meena Harris is absolutely right in her assertion that "it's all connected". It is a historical fact that Hindu Nationalist ideology draws its inspiration from violent European movements like Fascism and Nazism. B.S. Monnje was the first Hindu nationalist who met Mussolini in 1931. 

Hindu nationalists, now led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, have a long history of admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, including his "Final Solution". In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."  

It is important to note that the vast majority of Indian-Americans vote for Democrats but most still support India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi who endorsed former President Trump in 2020 presidential elections. In December 2020, the Carnegie Endowment published a study detailing the political attitudes of Indian Americans: 56 percent of Indian Americans self-identified as Democrats, 22 percent as independents, and 15 percent as Republicans; 72 percent of Indian Americans planned on voting for Biden this election, while 22 percent responded with support for Trump. The same survey found that while Indian American Trump voters and Republicans were much more enthusiastic about Modi, a majority of all Indian Americans supported Modi

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Mansoor K. said…
Add to this august list another name - Susan Sarandon, she's also lending support to India's farmers
Riaz Haq said…
In an apparent reference to international celebrity tweets in support of #India #FarmersProtests, #Modi says ‘India needs to be saved from new FDI or Foreign Destructive Ideology‘ @GretaThunberg @rihanna @meenaharris https://www.livemint.com/news/india/india-needs-to-be-saved-from-fdi-foreign-destructive-ideology-pm-modi-in-rs-11612765671843.html

While tweets posted by Rihanna and Greta Thunberg gave a boost of confidence to the farmers protesting at the borders of the national capital for more than two months, they also provided fuel to the already sizzling fire between the Central Government and the Opposition over the agricultural laws.

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There is also a new FDI which is seen today, that is foreign destructive ideology we need to be aware of this,' PM Narendra Modi said in his address to the Rajya Sabha

The farmers' protest against the government's newly-enacted farm laws has gone international. Tweets by renowned pop-star Rihanna and Swedish climate-activist Greta Thunberg favouring the agitating farmers have stirred up a hornet's nest with the opposition parties calling it a hit at India's reputation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the Rajya Sabha on Monday, played on the term "Foreign Direct Investment or FDI".

"There is also a new FDI which is seen today, that is foreign destructive ideology we need to be aware of this," PM Modi said.

The PM said that India needs to be cautioned against deleterious influences from abroad that he referred to as "foreign destructive ideology".

PM Modi used the term in the context of the ongoing farmers' protest in the country that has, of late, received support from several global celebrities.

PM Modi also said, "In the last few years, we have witnessed a new category of protesters, 'Andolan jeevi', who one can witness in every agitation. We need to protect this country from these Andolan Jeevi, who are actually 'parjeevi'. They don't have their own strength, but they join all agitations."


Riaz Haq said…
Cyberspace Plus Trump Almost Killed Our Democracy. Can Europe Save Us?

by Tom Friedman


Cyberspace is starting to resemble a sovereign nation-state, but without borders or governance. It has its own encrypted communications systems, like Telegram, outside the earshot of terrestrial governments. It has its own global news gathering and sharing platforms, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It even has its own currencies — Bitcoin and others — that no sovereign state has minted.

In recent years, all these platforms have mushroomed. They can elevate important voices that were never heard before. But they can also enable a believer in Jewish-run space laser


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/opinion/cyberspace-democracy-europe.html


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Donald Trump has been impeached for trying to kill the results of our last election, but we should have no illusions that whatever happens at his trial, the weapon he used is still freely available for others to deploy. It’s a realm called “cyberspace” — where we’re all connected but no one is in charge.

Trump, like no leader before, took advantage of that realm to spread a Big Lie, undermine trust in our electoral system and inspire an attack on our Capitol. We need a democratic fix for cyberspace fast.

China has figured out how to project its autocratic system and Communist values into cyberspace, to enhance its growth and stability, better than we’ve figured out how to project our democratic values into cyberspace to enhance our growth and stability. And we invented the damn thing!

If we don’t figure this out fast, we’re going to fall behind China economically, because the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the digitization of everything, making cyberspace bigger and more important than ever.
Riaz Haq said…
The #Farmersprotests Are a Turning Point for #India’s #democracy but #US sees India as an important counterweight to #China . | Time

https://time.com/5938041/india-farmer-protests-democracy/

For decades, the world has turned a blind eye to India’s abysmal human rights record. This approach draws from a broad perception of India as a strategic ally.

For one, the United States, like much of the global community, sees India as an important counterweight to China. They are the two most populous nations and the fastest growing trillion-dollar economies in the world. Global powers tend to prefer India because of its standing as the world’s largest democracy. At the same time, India’s adversarial relationship with neighboring Pakistan, as well as its increasingly anti-Muslim policies, position it as a bulwark against “Islamic terrorism.”

These two bogeymen—Chinese imperialism and Islamic terrorism—are the specters that have given India a free pass.

Over the past few years, however, the rise of right-wing authoritarianism has brought India’s democratic standing into question. India has plummeted in democracy metrics across the board, including the Press Freedom Index, where it now ranks 142 of 180 countries, four spots behind South Sudan and three behind Myanmar. The Human Freedom Index ranks India at 111 of 162 countries, just four ahead of Russia. This past September human rights group Amnesty International ceased operations in India following sustained assaults from the Indian government.

The full force and authoritarian tactics of the Indian government have been showcased as they respond to the largest protest in their history. Since September, tens of thousands of Indian have gathered in New Delhi to protest three new agricultural laws that aim to deregulate India’s agricultural industry and open it up to free-market forces. While the need for reforms is urgent, farmers are concerned that the new legislation privileges corporations and harms the everyday farmer. Finally, on Feb. 2, after months of protests, the world’s eyes started to focus on the Indian government’s undemocratic measures, including press censorship, journalist detention, internet shutdowns, and violent crackdowns against the non-violent protestors.

Hindu nationalists have used the occasion to call for genocidal violence against protestors. Twitter removed a tweet from Indian actress Kangana Ranaut that advocated ethnic cleansing of the protestors. Twitter also suspended 500 accounts that called for a repeat of the 1984 pogroms, a dark moment in India’s history.

These calls refer to a period of Indian history reminiscent of what’s happening today. In the 1970s and 1980s, Punjabi Sikhs led similar agitations that called for better government support of agriculture. Their sustained protests along with a self-determination movement drew the ire of the Indian government, which painted the efforts as anti-national. Following a disinformation campaign, the government launched a series of attacks that resulted in mass atrocities and egregious human rights abuses: the military assault on Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) of Amritsar in June of 1984, the state-sponsored pogroms in November of 1984 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards, and, in the decade that followed, a campaign of extra-judicial killings that resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths. The government of India has never acknowledged or apologized for this spree of violence, and it remains a visceral memory for many Indians, especially Punjabi Sikhs today.

Understanding the state violence in Punjab during the 1980s helps us see the grievances that Punjabi farmers have with the central government. It also shows how the Indian state deploys and enacts violence against its own citizens, and, perhaps most crucially, anticipates what might happen in India today if the Indian government is not held accountable for its current undemocratic actions.

Riaz Haq said…
#Rape-#Murder of Teenage Cousins in a Village in #India. #NYTimes' reporter Sonia Faleiro set out to examine India’s rape culture. #Misogyny is so deep that Lalli’s grieving mother is not invited to go to the #Hindu burial. She doesn't even ask. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/12/books/review/the-good-girls-sonia-faleiro.html?smid=tw-share

In 2012, a gang of men set upon and horrifically raped a female student on a bus in New Delhi. The crime made international news and provoked national protests that led to some changes in the laws. But Indian women with big dreams were on notice anyway. Seven years on, the Indian National Crime Records Bureau logged an average 88 rape charges a day.

Sonia Faleiro set out to examine India’s rape culture, but what she ended up revealing was something even more mundane and terrifying.

In May 2014, photographs of two teenage girls hanging from a tree in a mango orchard landed in Indian headlines and on social media. The girls’ deaths were quickly assumed to have had something to do with sexual assault.

Faleiro, who was born in India and lives in London, drove more than six hours from the nearest airport to the village of Katra in Uttar Pradesh, an agricultural region of India that abuts Nepal, to find out what happened.

The story she weaves in exquisite language is as tragic and ugly as it is engrossing.

In life, the tiny girls hanging from the tree by their colorful scarves had been so inseparable that their families and tiny community elided their names and called them as one. Because of India’s rape laws, their names can’t be published, so Faleiro uses the pseudonyms Padma and Lalli. “Padma Lalli,” as she calls them, were cousins, “alike as two grains of rice,” who spent all day in the fields before coming home to sleep in the compound of their extended family.

Their grandmother is “whispers and bones in a widow’s white sari.”

The girls are hard workers. Every morning, as the sun climbs in the sky, they rise to a day of chores: tending the family hearths, lighting dung cakes. They heat oil and knead dough and cook rotis, then trudge in noonday heat into the mint fields to feed family members. They come home and scrub dishes with soap made of wood ash. They go off with the goats and return to milk the buffalo. They pump water to fill buckets. They sweep the dusty courtyard over and over and over again.

Their mothers are also tireless laborers, caring for small children and the needs of men. “The women sweated over fires and labored over small errands,” Faleiro writes. “There was a button to thread, a broken slipper to twist into a knot, nits to comb out, wicker fans to wipe clean. The men were out, smoking beedis and talking among themselves.” The women pick up the slack. At night, they sleep on dirt while the men lounge in hammocks.

The MacGuffin in this mystery is the iPhone that one of the girls — an orphan living with relatives — has received as a gift. They hover over its alluring light in stolen moments between chores, using it to make plans for after dark, when they sneak off, with the excuse of having to relieve themselves (there are no toilets, so everyone squats in the fields). There in the mango orchard, the older one starts having sex with a lower-caste boy from a town across the field. These assignations are arranged by cellphone — including a cellphone that unbeknown to either of them is surreptitiously recording everything, per the orders of the younger girl’s father.

This story is at heart a Southern Gothic — a Southern Hemisphere Gothic — a tale of stymied sexuality and buried secrets. It will surprise no one that honor matters among this impoverished caste; nor will it surprise that there were watchers.

“They shouldn’t be out in public with a mobile phone,” one of the watchers, a government teacher and farmer, observes to one of the girls’ relatives. “Who knows who they’re talking to?”

Riaz Haq said…
"Democracy” is the one word that gets thrown around a lot when #India and #America talk about their relationship.
How Long Will #Biden Pretend #Modi's India Is a “Democratic” Ally Against “Authoritarian” #China? #democracy #geopolitics | Time

https://time.com/5939510/joe-biden-india-democracy/

“Democracy” is the one word that gets thrown around a lot when India and America talk about their relationship. Democracy forms the basis of the “shared values” and the “common bond” between the “natural partners”—all phrases that invariably pop up in the communiques of their engagement. The “world’s oldest democracy” and the “world’s largest democracy” won’t let the world forget why they’re in it together.

And, so it was when President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone Feb. 8 for the first time since the new U.S. Administration took power. Only, the new American President seemed to think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to remind India of the two nations’ common bond, as well. “The President underscored his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world and noted that a shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the US-India relationship,” said a White House statement on the meeting.

The U.S. would like to see India as an ideological and strategic counter to China’s rise, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook India’s fast-declining democratic standards. The daily assaults on civil liberties and the threats to India’s Muslim minority under Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have noticeably increased since Modi’s re-election in 2019. Hate speech is rife, peaceful dissent is criminalized, freedom of expression and association faces new constraints, and the jails are filling up with political prisoners and peaceful dissenters as a servile judiciary looks away.

On Sunday, Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist, was arrested for the allegedly seditious act of sharing and editing a Google document for activists supporting the ongoing farmers’ protest. Warrants are out against more activists for the same “conspiracy.” Earlier this month, India slipped two more places to 53rd in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index—from 27th place in 2014. Sweden’s V-Dem Institute now lists India among the top 10 countries most quickly becoming autocracies, adding that it is “on the verge of losing its status as a democracy due to the severely shrinking of space for the media, civil society and the opposition.”
Riaz Haq said…
Hate factory: Inside #BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’. Mishra is leading a network of over 20,000 people who are working in an organized fashion to create and spread hatred against #Muslims. #Hindu #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia #India https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/02/15/we-infiltrated-the-telegram-groups-of-the-bjp-leaders-online-network-to-see-what-they-do

All the ecosystem members need to do is hit “Tweet” and, boom, Twitter spammed! If enough people spam it at the right time, the hashtag starts trending. Just scroll down this trend and you can spot the pattern easily.

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If the ever-growing reality of Hindu Rashtra were one big Christmas, Kapil Mishra would be Santa Claus, and the members of his “Hindu Ecosystem” hardworking elves delivering the gift of religious hatred and bigotry, packaged in the seductive wrapping of Hindutva, to the masses, secretly but methodically.

On November 16 last year, Mishra, a former Aam Aadmi Party minister who is now with the BJP and has been accused of inciting the February 2020 Delhi carnage by the victims and activists, posted a tweet asking whoever was interested to fill in a form and join what he described as the “Hindu Ecosystem” team.

The form is straightforward – seeking such details as name, cellphone number, state and country of residence – but for one standout question. It asks the prospective footsoldier of the Hindu Ecosystem to state their “special area of interest” and, lest it wasn’t clear what that meant, gives a set of examples.

It also asks them to make a “declaration” about joining the group online and/or on the ground. Our curiosity was heightened and, of course, we had to join. We filled in the form and became members of the Telegram group. We were later added to other associated groups.


Thus we came to have a fly-on-the-wall view of how this ecosystem operates, how it creates propaganda material, how it comes up with toxic narratives, and how it manufactures trends across social media platforms to whip up communal hatred and bigotry, and, of course, support for Hindutva. Oh, they also share toolkits, like the one put out by the climate advocate Greta Thunberg to support the farmer protests over which the Delhi police have lodged an FIR, and arrested a young activist named Disha Ravi.

This is the sum of what we found: Kapil Mishra is leading a network of over 20,000 people who are working in an organised fashion to create and spread communal hatred.

Welcome to hate factory

On November 27, Misra posted a video for members of his network announcing that their first campaign would begin at 10 am that day, using the hashtag #JoinHinduEcosystem.

He said about 27,000 people had filled in the form and nearly 15,000 people had joined the Telegram group. Additionally, 5,000 people had signed up with the Hindu Ecosystem’s “Twitter team”. No points for guessing what social and gender groups the members came from: going by the usernames they were mostly upper caste Hindu men.

Riaz Haq said…
Hate factory: Inside #BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’. Mishra is leading a network of over 20,000 people who are working in an organized fashion to create and spread hatred against #Muslims. #Hindu #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia #India https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/02/15/we-infiltrated-the-telegram-groups-of-the-bjp-leaders-online-network-to-see-what-they-do


As of publishing this story, we have exited all the groups as our journalistic fly-on-the-wall purpose has been achieved.

If you don’t yet fully grasp the gravity of what’s being done through groups such as the Hindu Ecosystem, allow us to spell it out: they are fountains of misinformation, propaganda, directed hatred. They create and spread, in an organised way, Hindu supremacist and anti-minority bile, and incite communal hatred.

We joined Kapil Mishra’s group without expectation, only to witness a factory of hate and propaganda operating in real time. Over 20,000 people are working in a coordinated way to incite communal hatred; it doesn’t matter what event pops up on their radar they quickly give it a hateful spin and turn it into a conspiracy theory, complete with readily shareable images, videos, and forwards to tap into the hate-network effect.

As we were about to exit the group, we saw the hate factory begin circulating a video that purportedly shows a mob attacking a house as the Delhi police stand by.


Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #India threatens jail for employees of #Facebook, #WhatsApp and #Twitter, flexing its new powers over big platforms. Country flexes new powers over big platforms while companies are counting on world’s second-largest population for growth https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-threatens-jail-for-facebook-whatsapp-and-twitter-employees-11614964542?reflink=desktopwebshare_twitter via @WSJ


India’s government has threatened to jail employees of Facebook Inc., its WhatsApp unit and Twitter Inc. as it seeks to quash political protests and gain far-reaching powers over discourse on foreign-owned tech platforms, people familiar with the warnings say.

The warnings are in direct response to the tech companies’ reluctance to comply with data and takedown requests from the government related to protests by Indian farmers that have made international headlines, the people say. At least some of the written warnings cite specific, India-based employees at risk of arrest if the companies don’t comply, according to two of the people.

The threats mark an escalation of India’s efforts to pressure U.S. tech companies at a moment when those companies are looking to the world’s second-most-populous nation for growth in the coming years.

Some of the government’s requests for data involve WhatsApp, which is hugely popular in India and promises users encrypted communication, unable to be read by outside parties.

A WhatsApp spokesman said the company complies with data requests that are “consistent with internationally recognized standards including human rights, due process and the rule of law.” A Facebook spokesman said the company “responds to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service.”
Riaz Haq said…
#American Historian Audrey Truschke faces threats, Rutgers University extends support to her. Some students, mainly #Hindu, allege that the historian was defaming #Hindus due to her ‘inherently prejudiced views’. #Hindutva #Modi #India https://scroll.in/latest/988994/abhor-vile-messages-and-threats-directed-at-audrey-truschke-says-rutgers-university via @scroll_in

Truschke, who teaches South Asian history at Rutgers University, is the author of Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King, and most recently, The Language Of History: Sanskrit Narratives Of A Muslim Past, which explores ancient Sanskrit texts and their perspectives on Indo-Muslim rule and the Deccan sultanates.

Her most well known and controversial work remains to be Aurangzeb, in which Truschke offers a perspective on the public debate over the Mughal emperor, who is often condemned as the cruelest king in Indian history, and makes the case for why his often-maligned legacy deserves to be reassessed.

Aurangzeb, a Muslim ruler, is widely thought to have destroyed thousands of Hindu temples, forced millions of Indians to convert to Islam, and enacted a genocide of Hindus. In the book, Truschke uses extensive research to argue that his life and history do not match his current reputation.

The book generated fierce backlash in India, particularly from Hindutva groups, making Truschke the target of intense hate speech and slander on social media, which has only worsened over the years. The author also faced calls to ban Aurangzeb and even to ban her from India.

After the renewed backlash on Monday, the author said she had to block over 5,750 Twitter accounts after enduring an “avalanche of hate speech, anti-Muslim sentiments, misogyny, violent threats,” and even “things endangering” her family.


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A group called “Hindus on Campus” on Twitter, which describes itself as a student-led initiative to create “a safe space for diaspora Hindus to share their experiences with Anti-Hindu bigotry”, has launched a petition on social media against the historian.

It alleged that Truschke, in her tweets, falsely linked Hindus with extremists and white supremacists rioting at the US Capitol Hill, and claimed that the Bhagavad Gita “rationalises mass slaughter” and violence. The Hindutva community further accused the historian of tweeting that Hindu deity Ram was a “misogynistic pig”, while she “whitewashed Hindu genocide by Mughal king Aurangzeb”.

The group demanded that Truschke be disallowed to teach a course that involves materials related to Hinduism and India “due to her inherent prejudiced views”.

Further, the Hindus on Campus demanded that the Rutgers University publicly condemn her “for causing trauma to Hindu students, alumni, and the Hindu community”. It sought the university to give a platform where Hindu students can bring in faculty and researchers “who can provide realistic representations of Hinduism and India”.

The Rutgers University rejected the submissions made by the group. “Scholarship is sometimes controversial, perhaps especially when it is at the interface of history and religion, but the freedom to pursue such scholarship, as Professor Truschke does rigorously, is at the heart of the academic enterprise,” the institute said.

At the same time, Rutgers “emphatically affirms its support for all members of the Hindu community to study and live in an environment in which they not only feel safe, but also fully supported in their religious identity”, it said.

The institute said it was initiating dialogues to understand the sentiments of the Hindu community on campus, and “create a context that honors our complexity, while allowing us to do the difficult work of constructive and healthy engagement among our diverse community”.

After all, our academic excellence is inseparable from our diversity of perspectives and voices, Rutgers said.
Riaz Haq said…
FACTSHEET: RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH (RSS)
by Bridge Initiative Team
Published on 18 May 2021

https://bridge.georgetown.edu/research/factsheet-rashtriya-swayamsevak-sangh-rss/


IMPACT: Founded in 1925 by K.D Hedgewar, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organization. In 2020, RSS had almost 585,000 members and over 57,000 branches or sakhas, including a trade union wing (Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh), women’s wing (Rashtriya Sevika Samiti), student wing (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), and economic wing (Swadeshi Jagaran Manch). The Print, an Indian news outlet, estimates that 3 out of 4 ministers in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are members of the RSS, including the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded in 1925 by K.D Hedgewar in response to a series of small and large scale riots between Hindus and Muslims across northern India. As the historian Tapan Raychoudhuri has noted, Hedgewar believed the riots were Muslim riots as he [Hedgewar] claimed that in every single case, “it is they [Muslims] who start them.”

In the Sangh’s mission statement, Hedgewar wrote: “The Hindu culture is the life-breath of Hindustan. It is therefore clear that if Hindustan is to be protected, we should first nourish the Hindu culture. It is the duty of every Hindu to do his best to consolidate the Hindu society.” In 1927, RSS co-founder — Dr. B.S. Moonje — described the RSS as an institution which could produce “the military regeneration of the Hindus” and unify the people in line with “the idea of fascism.” In 1940, M.S Golwalkar succeeded Hedgewar as head of the RSS.

Golwalkar, widely regarded as the ideological architect of the Sangh, is the author of We, or, Our Nationhood Defined, which maps out a vision of a “Hindu Rashtra”. A March 2018 piece by Parnal Chirmuley in The Indian Express notes that Golwalkar’s vision [of a Hindu state] drew inspiration from Italian fascism, specifically Mussolini’s organization of fascist paramilitary forces. In comparing the supremacy of Hindus in India to the supremacy of the Aryan race in Hitler’s Germany, Golwalkar wrote, “To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging of the country of the Semitic races— the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here .. a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

In the 1940s, under Golwalkar, RSS volunteers were forbidden from taking part in Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s “Quit India Movement” against the British empire. During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, Golwalkar is reported to have met with Gandhi over RSS’s alleged involvement in widespread anti-Muslim pogroms. On January 30, 1948, Nathuram Godse, a former member of the Sangh, assassinated Gandhi. In the aftermath, Golwalkar was jailed, and the RSS banned.

In 2009, following the BJP’s defeat in national elections, Mohan Bhagwat— who grew up in a staunchly RSS family— took over the organization. Leading up to the 2014 election, the Sangh actively campaigned for the Hindu-nationalist party, backing Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, as the front runner. Narendra Modi is a lifelong member of the RSS, and is accused of “allowing” the 2002 massacre of Muslims in his state.

In recent years, the RSS has been at the forefront of promoting Hindu-nationalism in India, with the Sangh accused of inciting violence against India’s Dalit-Bahujan community, including hate crimes against Muslims, lynchings of Dalits, and pogroms against religious minorities.
Riaz Haq said…
FACTSHEET: RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH (RSS)
by Bridge Initiative Team
Published on 18 May 2021

https://bridge.georgetown.edu/research/factsheet-rashtriya-swayamsevak-sangh-rss/

In recent years, the RSS has been at the forefront of promoting Hindu-nationalism in India, with the Sangh accused of inciting violence against India’s Dalit-Bahujan community, including hate crimes against Muslims, lynchings of Dalits, and pogroms against religious minorities.

In 1992, RSS had campaigned for the destruction of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, arguing the Mughal era structure was built on top of the birthplace of the Hindu God, Ram. Following the BJP’s landslide electoral victory in May 2019, Mohan Bhagwat reaffirmed the Sangh’s commitment to the masjid-mandir (mosque-temple) debate at an RSS-education camp, saying, “Ram’s work will be done.” In December 2019, after the Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of the destruction in November 2019, three RSS leaders were charged with “commuting a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings and uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of a person” in Karnataka, India, for reenacting the demolition of the mosque.

In April 2019, The Caravan reported a new initiative by the RSS to bring “true nationalist narrative” to Indian academia. Since BJP came to power in 2014, prominent historians such as Romila Thapar have argued that the Sangh is “attempting to foreground revisionist histories with a glorified view of a Hindu past” by rewriting school textbooks, setting up “RSS-model schools”, and lobbying streaming platforms to remove “anti-nationalist” content. Balmukund Pandey, the head of the historical research wing of the RSS, is on record asserting: “The time is now to restore India’s past glory by establishing that ancient Hindu texts are fact not myth.”

Since its early days, RSS has been linked to white supremacist organizations in Europe and North America. In 2011, Anders Breivik— the Norwegian mass murderer— hailed India’s Hindu nationalist movement as a “key ally in a global struggle to bring down democratic regimes across the world”, listing the websites of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the National Volunteers’ Organisation, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as resources.

The Sangh has also been linked with Hindu-American advocacy groups in the U.S, chief among them the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) in Washington, D.C. Mihir Meghani, co-founder of HAF, is a long time member of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and has spoken at conferences organized by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, the international religious branch of the RSS. Meghani is also the author of Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology where he writes, “The future of Bharat is set. Hindutva is here to stay. It is up to the Muslims whether they will be included in the new nationalistic spirit of Bharat. It is up to the government and the Muslim leadership whether they wish to increase Hindu furor or work with the Hindu leadership.”

In 2005, the Hindu America Foundation (HAF) partnered with the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation, to push the state of California to change passages on Hinduism in official school textbooks. In a February 2006 cover story, Siliconeer, a monthly magazine for south Asians on the west coast, said the changes in curriculum that HAF was pushing for reflected “chauvinistic political agendas” seeking to equate the history of India with the history of Hinduism. Recently, HAF board member Rishi Bhutada served as the official spokesperson of “Howdy Modi,” the RSS backed rally for India’s BJP prime minister held in Houston, Texas on September 22, 2020.
Riaz Haq said…
FACTSHEET: RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH (RSS)
by Bridge Initiative Team
Published on 18 May 2021

https://bridge.georgetown.edu/research/factsheet-rashtriya-swayamsevak-sangh-rss/

In October 2019, HAF invited Aarti Tikoo Singh, who claimed, in a Twitter exchange with Tarek Fatah, that “Islamophobia is a bullsh*t word thrown in as a slur by those who have irrational fear (phobia) of any criticism of Islamic extremism [and] regressive Muslims.” In April 2019, after city councils across Canada voted to allow the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) to be broadcasted for a few minutes a day during the holy month of Ramadan, Fatah claimed that the Muslims wanted the public adhan to become a “permanent feature”, and that Greek Town (as the neighbourhood of the mosque is known) might soon become “Islamabad.” Fatah was retweeted by Ravi Hooda, who commented that the decision— to broadcast the adhan— opened the door for “separate lanes for camel & goat riders” or laws “requiring all women to cover themselves from head to toe in tents.” Writing for Foreign Policy, Steven Zhou identified Hooda as a volunteer for the local branch of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, which represents the overseas interests of the RSS.

In February 2020, following anti-Muslim pogroms in Delhi, 16 RSS cadres were arrested and charged with murder and rioting. At least 53 people were killed during the violence, almost three quarter of whom were Muslims. According to The Guardian, the catalyst for the pogrom is widely acknowledged to have been a comment by Kapil Mishra, a BJP leader, who issued a public ultimatum declaring that if the police did not clear the streets of a protest against a new citizenship law seen as anti-Muslim, his supporters would be “forced to hit the streets”.

Today’s RSS tries to distance itself from its past. But according to Arundhati Roy, “its underlying ideology, in which Muslims are cast as treacherous permanent ‘outsiders,’ is a constant refrain in the public speeches of BJP politicians, and finds utterance in chilling slogans raised by rampaging mobs. For example: ‘Mussalman ka ek hi sthan—Kabristan ya Pakistan’ (Only one place for the Muslim—the graveyard, or Pakistan). In October this year, Mohan Bhagwat, the supreme leader of the RSS, said, ‘India is a Hindu Rashtra’—a Hindu nation. ‘This is non-negotiable.’”

Riaz Haq said…
Meena Harris, #US VP Kamala Harris’ niece says those who are neutral on #Israel-#Gaza have ‘chosen the side of the oppressor'. The evictions in #shaikhjarrah are emblematic of an #Israeli government that is trying to push #Palestinians out of #Jerusalem. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kamala-harris-niece-israel-gaza-oppressor

(Meena) Harris, a 36-year-old lawyer and businesswoman shared a statement seen across Instagram, along with the caption "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. I stand in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah."

Sheikh Jarrah is a neighborhood in East Jerusalem where six Palestinian families are facing eviction in favor of Jewish settlers. The evictions have led to violent clashes in the streets. The Israeli government has said the matter is a real estate dispute that Hamas is using to stoke tensions, but some Palestinians say the evictions are emblematic of an Israeli government they say is trying to push them out of Jerusalem.

The post she shared read, "One cannot advocate for racial equality, LGBT & women’s rights, condemn corrupt and abusive regimes & other injustices yet choose to ignore the Palestinian oppression. It does not add up. You cannot pick & choose whose human rights matter more."

Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that controls Gaza, is no champion of LGBT rights - being gay is punishable by 10 years in prison, and in 2016, Hamas executed one of its own fighters for same-sex relations.

The post had also been shared by model Gigi Hadid, who is of Palestinian and Dutch descent.

In a subsequent post, Meena Harris shared a statement that described Israel as an "apartheid state."

Meena Harris’ take on the Middle East violence seemingly puts her at odds with President Biden. Biden said Thursday he had not seen a "significant overreaction" from Israel in response to Hamas’ rocket attacks, and said that they had been "indiscriminately fired into population centers."

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden in the call asserted Israel’s "right to defend itself." White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden team had had "dozens of calls" with Israeli and Palestinian leaders focused on de-escalating the crisis over the past week.

But earlier this week Psaki said the U.S. had expressed concerns that Israeli evictions in East Jerusalem worked "against our common interests" in finding a solution to the conflict.
Riaz Haq said…
Sulli Deals: The #Indian #Muslim women 'up for sale' on an app. The app pretended to offer users the chance to buy a "Sulli" - a derogatory slang term used by right-wing #Hindu trolls for Muslim women. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Modi #India - BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-57764271

Last Sunday, dozens of Muslim women in India found they had been put up for sale online.

Hana Khan, a commercial pilot whose name was on the list, told the BBC she was alerted to it when a friend sent her a tweet.

The tweet took her to "Sulli Deals", an app and website that had taken publicly available pictures of women and created profiles, describing the women as "deals of the day".

The app's landing page had a photo of an unknown woman. On the next two pages Ms Khan saw photos of her friends. On the page after that she saw herself.

"I counted 83 names. There could be more," she told the BBC. "They'd taken my photo from Twitter and it had my user name. This app was running for 20 days and we didn't even know about it. It sent chills down my spine."

The app pretended to offer users the chance to buy a "Sulli" - a derogatory slang term used by right-wing Hindu trolls for Muslim women. There was no real auction of any kind - the purpose of the app was just to degrade and humiliate.

Ms Khan said she had been targeted was because of her religion. "I'm a Muslim woman who's seen and heard," she said. "And they want to silence us."

GitHub - the web platform that hosted the open source app - shut it down quickly following complaints. "We suspended user accounts following the investigation of reports of such activity, all of which violate our policies," the company said in a statement.

But the experience has left women scarred. Those who featured on the app were all vocal Muslims, including journalists, activists, artists or researchers. A few have since deleted their social media accounts and many others said they were afraid of further harassment.

"No matter how strong you are, but if your picture and other personal information is made public, it scares you, it disturbs you," another woman told the BBC Hindi service.

But several of the women whose details were shared on the app have taken to social media to call out the "perverts", and vowed to fight. A dozen have formed a WhatsApp group to seek - and offer - support and some of them, including Ms Khan, have lodged complaints with the police.

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