New Legislation in U.S. House Aims to Address ‘Hinduphobia,’ Sparks Debate Over Intent and Impact

Featured & Cover New Legislation in U S House Aims to Address 'Hinduphobia ' Sparks Debate Over Intent and Impact

A fresh legislative proposal presented in the House of Representatives seeks to denounce “Hinduphobia,” a term utilized by certain Hindu Americans to articulate what they assert as burgeoning anti-Hindu sentiments in the United States.

The bill was put forward by Democratic Representative Shri Thanedar, an Indian American hailing from Michigan. During a press conference on Monday, he delineated what he perceives as an escalating threat to Indian Americans who adhere to Hinduism, the world’s third-largest religion.

“Today I am seeing in the United States a substantial increase of attacks on Hinduism, a lot of misinformation being circulated,” he stated. “Having practiced Hinduism, having grown in a Hindu household, I know what Hinduism is. It is a very peaceful religion … It is not a religion that attacks others, it is not a religion that is aggressive against others.”

Thanedar’s resolution outlines various points, including the House’s acknowledgment of the contributions of Hindus to the U.S. and its condemnation of “Hinduphobia” and anti-Hindu bigotry.

However, progressive Hindu and South Asian groups have voiced apprehension about this legislation, contending that while anti-Hindu sentiment does exist, the term “Hinduphobia” was fabricated by the Indian far-right to stifle criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

“In many cases, instances of anti-Indian sentiment, general xenophobia, or even mistaken Islamophobia are misleadingly labeled as ‘Hinduphobic’ regardless of whether or not there is any evidence to support claims of religious motivation,” remarked Hindus for Human Rights, a progressive civil rights organization, in a news release. “Even worse, claims of ‘Hinduphobia’ have routinely been weaponized to smear anyone — including self-identifying Hindus — who criticizes the current Indian government.”

During his press conference, Thanedar depicted the Hindu community as “inclusive” and asserted that it has been purposefully misrepresented by mainstream media. He also highlighted instances of vandalism on two California Hindu temples with graffiti reading “Modi is a terrorist” and slogans calling for an independent Sikh state.

“We have experienced substantially more events of this kind in recent months, and I have a feeling that this is just the beginning,” he remarked. “This is just the beginning of a very coordinated attempt against this community.”

Thanedar refrained from speculating about the perpetrators of these attacks but urged the FBI, the Department of Justice, and local authorities to intervene.

Modi’s government frequently faces criticism for its human rights record, including assaults on the media and anti-Muslim legislation. It’s also been accused of promoting Hindu nationalism both in India and among the diaspora.

In the U.S., Muslims and caste minorities have reported facing targeted attacks and violence for speaking out against far-right, Hindu nationalist actors aiming to establish India as a Hindu-dominated nation. Hindus for Human Rights contended in its release that Thanedar’s resolution could stifle these conversations by branding them as “Hinduphobic.”

In reality, the organization argued, the primary threat to Indian American immigrants in the U.S. is white nationalism.

“Though it claims to celebrate Hindu Americans and speak for our community’s interests, this resolution does not respond to real concerns about how Hindu Americans are affected by white Christian nationalism in the United States,” the release stated. “Instead, it reflects a longstanding effort by the Hindu supremacist movement in the United States to divide South Asian communities.”

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