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A Counter Narrative to Howdy Modi in Houston
By:Indian American Muslim Council
Date: Wednesday, 30 October 2019, 10:58 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, participated in a series of campaigns during India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the U.S. Modi was in Houston, TX on September 22, 2019 to address his supporters at the 'Howdy Modi' event at NRG stadium and to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 27.

IAMC joined the campaign in Houston, aptly titled 'Adios Modi', as a coalition partner with the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella coalition of various organizations dedicated to promoting the common values of pluralism, tolerance, social justice and respect for human rights that form the basis of the world’s two largest secular democracies – the United States and India. The AJA campaign included a press conference on September 21 and a protest rally on September 22 outside the NRG stadium in Houston, TX.
Campaign Objectives

The campaign aimed to raise urgent international awareness about the following issues:

The humanitarian crisis in Kashmir, including the gross violations of Human Rights and the unconstitutional revocation of Articles 370 and 35A.
The nefarious implementation of the National Registry of Citizens in Assam.
The persecution of Christians, Muslims, and Dalits in India.
The rise of Hindu-nationalism and India's slide towards fascism.

The campaign also aimed to raise awareness that Modi and the current administration are not only presiding over the evil subversion of India's democratic and secular institutions, but are actively spearheading the efforts to undermine the constitution and are poised to commit gross violations of Human Rights in Kashmir and Assam.

IAMC and its coalition partners made the following demands:

STOP Hindutva Fascism from taking India from to a dark place
END the cruel blockade in Kashmir. PROVIDE food, medicine, and aid NOW
RELEASE political prisoners and RESTORE constitutional rights
STOP the massive repression and PREVENT Genocide in Kashmir
STOP the nefarious implementation of NRC and setting up detention centers
STOP the violent campaign of lynching of Indian Muslims and Dalits
STOP attacking clergy and the religious persecution of Christians

Grassroots Mobilization

During Modi's visit to the U.S., massive protests were organized in Houston and New York by a broad-based coalition of groups that came together in solidarity since the Indian government’s brazen move on August 5 to strip Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status and lock down over 7 million people in the region.

Protesters at the event reiterated Kashmiris’ right to self determination as promised by UN Resolution 47 and called for an end to the Military occupation, the immediate restoration of communication, an end to human rights violations, and the complete demilitarization of the region.

The protestors chanted slogans such as 'Modi, Modi, you can't hide, you committed Genocide' referring to the fact that even before Modi came to power, his role in the pogrom of Gujarat in 2002 resulted in a massacre of over 2,000 Muslims earning him the dubious distinction of being the only individual whose visa to the United States was revoked in 2005 under the International Religious Freedom Act.
Houston Protest Sept 22 Highlights Final

Speech 18 Sept 22 Protest
Coalition Outreach
The AJA campaign featured human rights, civil rights, and social justice organizations, including activists, community leaders, academicians, and representatives from Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Dalit, and Jewish faiths. Following is the list:

Imam Omar Suleiman, American Muslim Scholar, Civil Rights Activist, Writer, and Speaker. Founder and President of Yaqeen Institute.
Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, American Muslim Scholar and Dean of The Islamic Seminary of America.
Br. Azhar Azeez, Past President of ISNA and current VP of Community Affairs and Alliances at Islamic Relief USA.
Lubabah Abdullah, Executive Director of Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Houston
Ashton Wood, Founder of Black Lives Matter in Houston.
Zach Chatterjee Shlachter, Jewish Voice for Peace.
Sunita Viswanath, Social Justice and Human Rights Activist and Founder of Hindus for Human Rights.
Wasim Dar, Kashmiri Human Rights Activist.
Syed Ali, Vice President of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC)
Pieter Friedrich, Author Specializing in Analysis of Historical and Current Affairs in South Asia.
Samina Salim, Indian Muslim Activist and Professor at The University of Houston.
Sarah Philips, Director of Operations at the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective.
Pawan Singh, Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI)
Reverend Ronnie Lister, Recipient of the Gandhi Award for Peace by the Gandhi Historical Center.
Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector at the St. Stevens Episcopal Church
Daniel Cohen, Professional Communicator with a Deep Love for Advocacy.
Cesar Octavio Executive Director, For Families and Their Education (FIEL).
Ayman El-Sawa, Egyptian Community Organizer and Activist.

Imam Omar Suleiman addresses Anti-Modi Protest Rally by Alliance for Justice & Accountability
Speech 5 Sept 22 Protest
Speech 12 Sept 22 Protest
Samina Salim addresses Anti-Modi Protest Rally organised by Alliance for Justice & Accountability
New York Protests
Coming on the heels of the Adios Modi campaign, IAMC also joined the massive protest in New York on September 27, 2019, along with the Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI), a US based coalition of progressive Hindus that advocate for social, economic, and racial justice and brings a Hindu voice to the interfaith justice movement. CAFI empowers the Hindu American communities to live out the values of their faith through service, community transformation, and targeted advocacy work.

Audrey Trushke
Media Outreach

Barring a few exceptions, the Indian media, completely undermined and decimated by Hindutva's hyper nationalism centered around anti-Muslim sentiments, worked overtime doing the Indian governments' bidding by providing a distorted image of Modi by covering the Howdy Modi event non-stop on prime time instead of posing tough questions about the money being spent on the event by Modi's government and the outcomes from the Howdy Modi event.

On the other hand, AJA's media outreach efforts ensured that the human rights and religious freedom violations by Modi and his government since 2002 are not forgotten. AJA's campaign and press conference was widely covered in India and substantially in the U.S. (see complete list below). Several videos of the protest went viral and were shared by activists and were even tweeted by Indian Parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor who has more than 7 million followers.

AJA's media outreach effort aimed to highlight the fact that the pluralist and secular Constitution of India has repeatedly come under a grave threat by the actions of Prime Minister Modi’s government for over five years, most lately through its unilateral action on Kashmir where hundreds of thousands of people are being severely brutalized merely because they are Muslims.

Modi’s parent organization, the RSS, has since 1925 vowed to turn India into a Hindu nation with second-class status of its minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, and Modi’s government’s aim clearly is to make that happen. This project would destroy India and AJA was protesting to safeguard and protect equal rights and liberties for all citizens, as guaranteed by India’s constitution.
Press Conference

AJA organized a press conference on Saturday, September 22, 2019 with a broad coalition of human rights, civil rights, interfaith, and social justice organizations and activists. Speakers at the press conference expressed grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir, the gross violations of human rights in India, including human lynchings and India's slide towards fascism.

Pieter Friedrich, a South Asian Affairs Analyst linked the white supremacist shootings targeting brown immigrants to being inspired indirectly by Hindutva. He said: “Last month, a white supremacist terrorist murdered 22 people in El Paso, Texas. His evil act was inspired by the murder of 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. That man’s evil act was inspired by the murder of 77 people in Norway in 2011. In Norway, terrorist Anders Breivik left a manifesto that describes how he was inspired by other extremist and nationalist groups around the globe.

Breivik pointed to the RSS in India. He praised the “right wing Hindu nationalism” of the RSS and its goal of making India a “Hindu nation.” He praised the RSS for how “they dominate the streets… and often riot and attack Muslims.” He said the goals of white supremacists and the RSS are “identical” and that they should “learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible.”

The RSS is a fascist paramilitary founded in 1925 — the same year that Hitler published Mein Kampf. The RSS developed with inspiration from the Nazis. And it produced Narendra Modi. In 2002, Modi presided as soldiers of the RSS massacred 2,000 Muslims. They gang-raped women, hacked people to death, burned people alive. Leaders of the pogrom later confessed on camera that Modi sanctioned their violence.

For this reason, Modi was banned from entering the USA for over 10 years. Today, under Modi’s iron-fisted regime, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and every Hindu who disagrees with the hate, violence, and supremacy of the RSS lives in fear of their lives. Modi’s hands are stained with blood. Those who shake his hand in welcome cannot wash their hands of complicity in his crimes.”

Other speakers expressed concerns that this same ideology of hatred and bigotry that has taken roots in India and subdued all institutions is also establishing its tentacles here in the U.S. under the guise of Indian Nationalism. The Indian nationalist organization Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) is the overseas arm of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). They urged all Americans to resolve to oppose the politics of the HSS and the RSS, which are responsible for promoting a Hindu supremacist mindset that has endangered the lives of so many people.
Highlights from the Press Conference
Pieter Friedrich | Journalist & South Asian Affairs Specialist

Ashton P Woods, Co-founder | Black Lives Matter, Houston
Sarah Philips, Director of Operations | Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective

Daniel Cohen | Rights Activist

Congressional Outreach

IAMC followed up the protest campaign with congressional outreach and joined several organizations, coalitions, and politicians in demanding the restoration of basic human rights, lifting the curfew and restrictions, freedom of movement and communication in Kashmir. On October 22, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on human rights in South Asia, with a special focus on the situation in Kashmir. It urged the Indian government to respect human rights in Kashmir.

Media Coverage
Following is a list of media outlets that covered the Houston protests due to AJA's PR efforts. Please note that the list only includes those stories where AJA campaign is mentioned and/or the pictures from AJA protests are used.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE

The Independent, UK
Backlash against Modi as Indian PM 'endorses Trump for 2020 in breach of diplomatic convention'

The Intercept
THE NETWORK OF HINDU NATIONALISTS BEHIND MODI’S “DIASPORA DIPLOMACY” IN THE U.S.

Houston Chronicle
Sunday celebration of Indian American community at NRG gets more political

Texas Observer
The Roots of Narendra Modi’s Divisiveness Are at Odds With the Idea of a Diverse Houston

CNN
Trump and Modi are two sides of the same coin

NBC
As Indian PM Modi comes to the U.S., Kashmiri Americans fear for life back home

Al Jazeera, Qatar

'Howdy Modi!': Indian PM's supporters, critics to gather in Texas
'Howdy, Modi!': Trump attends Indian PM's rally in Houston

Fox News, Houston
Indian Americans to protest Modi's Houston visit

ABC News, Houston
Crowds gather at NRG Park to protest Modi-Trump rally

Gulf News
Modi’s visit great thing for Houston, say Indian Americans

TRT World, Turkey
Protesters and supporters greet Modi at Houston event

India Abroad

Progressive groups in Houston denounce Sept. 22 'Howdy Modi!' rally
Social justice groups denounce Modi for ethnic violence, human rights abuses in India

The India Observer, Dallas

What the Indian media failed to show
Howdy Modi or Adios Modi ?

India Life, US
Thousands protest against PM Modi during Howdy Modi event

Wisconsin Muslim Journal
TRUMP ATTENDS INDIAN PM’S RALLY IN HOUSTON

Publico (Spanish)
Com Howdy, Modi!, Trump estendeu a passadeira vermelha Índia no Texas

Jacobin Mag, US
When Hindu Nationalism and White Nationalism Meet

Daily Times, Pakistan
Modi’s Houston circus and its aftermath

Kashmir Media Service
Thousands protest against Modi in Houston

The Federal
Strong protests during Modi’s Houston visit get quiet burial

The Leaders News
Modi’s Houston Visit: Indian-American Coalition Protests Against Modi-Trump

INDIAN MEDIA

The Hindu

Protesters get ready for Narendra Modi’s Houston rally
‘Howdy Modi’ event: Protests outside NRG stadium

The Wire

Modi's Houston Visit: Indian-American Coalition Protests Against Modi-Trump
Indian-American Coalition to Protest Narendra Modi's Houston Event
Indian-American Coalition Protests 'Bigoted and Oppressive' Modi, Trump in Houston
'Howdy, Modi' Wins Hearts
Why We, as Hindu Americans, Are Opposed to Modi's Undeclared Emergency

The Indian Express
At Howdy Modi venue, loud cheers — and some protests

The Tribune

Indian diplomats fight Kashmir fires for good Capitol Hill turnout at 'Howdy Modi'
Separatists, secularists plan separate rallies at Houston

The Telegraph
US groups plan protest at Modi event

The Quint
‘Adios Modi’: Protestors Chant Outside ‘Howdy Modi’ Event in US

National Herald
Howdy Modi: Several groups gather to protest Modi’s visit to Houston

Huffington Post
#AdiosModi: The Giant Protests Outside 'Howdy Modi' In Houston That The Indian Media Didn't Show You

Newsclick
Massive Protests Outside #HowdyModi PR Event in Houston

Scroll

Houston: Anti-Modi protestors stage demonstrations against ‘near-fascist politics’ of BJP government
Hindus must stand against Hindutva: Why I protested against Narendra Modi in Houston and New York

MoneyControl
PM Modi's visit great thing for Houston, say Indian Americans

Asiaville (Hindi)
Many organizations came out against PM Modi in Houston, say BJP is spreading hatred in the name of Hindutva

Asiaville (English)
Indian Americans Announce Protest Against Modi’s Houston Visit

Satyahindi
Thousands Protest PM Modi Event in Houston

The Citizen
The Government of India Meets Dissent Abroad

Caravan Daily
US Groups Holding Massive Protests against Hindutva Crimes at ‘Howdy Modi’ Event

Ganashakti
MASSIVE PROTESTS OUTSIDE HOWDY MODI PR EVENT IN HOUSTON

National Dastak
Thousands in America Protest Against Modi

Emalayalee
Thousands protest against PM Modi during Howdy Modi event

The Barni Show
Listen to the speech of a Hindu lady against Modi in America

TWEETS

Shashi Tharoor (with 7 Million Followers)
What Indian media did not show: the other messaging by NRI protestors in Houston

Shehla Rashid

A Hindu woman calls upon progressive Hindus to unite against Hindutva, which is the enemy of Hinduism
"The people united will never be defeated" ~ @FriedrichPieter and others drum up a lively beat, while a placard at the back says, "We won't give up"
@FriedrichPieter highlights how, under Modi, freedom of thought and expression is under attack in India

The Wire
"We have one and only one agenda: to expose the undemocratic, anti-people and anti-minorities agenda of Mr. Modi’s government and BJP party,"
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Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation.
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