From September 7th through September 9th, 2018, the second annual World Hindu Congress (WHC) convened in Chicagoland. WHC 2018 states its purpose as a global platform for Hindus to connect and impact the common good. However, there have been troubling accounts of violence and reports of intolerant actions by individuals in response to protests at this event. SAAPRI does not condone violence or extremism in any form, and does not support groups that incite violence or champion discrimination based on ethnicity, race, gender, or religious background.
The South Asian American community includes many faiths and diverse backgrounds, including those who are marginalized and targeted by the extreme ideologies of nationalist groups here and abroad. In a post-9/11 America, hate and extremism have been on the rise with an increase of 4% in 2017 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is why this summer, SAAPRI held a series of events on the theme of Ahimsa, the Sanskrit word for nonviolence. In partnership with the Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts, we brought together artists, community leaders, and activists with the intention to start a dialogue around nonviolent approaches to combatting injustice. Speakers at the Ahimsa programs emphasized the importance of raising individual and collective voices against oppression, whether that be by listening to those who have been marginalized, casting a ballot, engaging with lawmakers, or participating in a peaceful protest.
Violence should be condemned irrespective of political or religious affiliation, and we call upon all to uphold the values of nonviolence and religious tolerance across all communities. SAAPRI will be convening a meeting in the upcoming months to address how the Trump administration is changing the landscape of hate and extremism in America and its impact on the South Asian American community.