US House of Representatives condemns hatred against Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims

Wednesday 13th March 2019 02:19 EDT

New York: In a controversial resolution that initially split the Democrats before being expansively reworded, the House of Representatives has condemned hate against Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims and other minorities and denounced accusations of dual loyalty. A key element in the resolution adopted is the condemnation of dual loyalty that insinuates doubt about patriotism of sections of citizens that has a resonance for Indian-Americans who sometimes face that accusation for expressing support for India.

While 234 Democrats backed the resolution and one abstained, 173 Republicans voted for it and 23 against it. The Executive Director of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Suhag Shukla, welcoming the resolution pointed out that "our communities have also faced suspicion and bigotry from people on the far-left end of the political spectrum with baseless accusations of dual loyalties to India."

The build-up to the resolution exposed a deep divide within the Democrats as the party leadership faced a rebellion from its Left and African-American groups, while the moderates pushed for the original version that targeted only anti-Semitism. There is risk of divide that is also being reflected in the ideological divisions economic and social policies also may grow and undermine party unity to the advantage of Republicans.

The resolution was first proposed as a response to repeated anti-Jewish statements by a newly elected Muslim Representative of Somali descent, Ilhan Omar, who had accused supporters of Israel as having "allegiance to a foreign country" and tweeted that support for Israel was motivated by "Benjamin's Babies" - an anti-Semitic slur - which implied lawmakers were being bought.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposal to condemn anti-Semitism faced opposition from the left wing of the party as well as the African-American bloc in the House, even though the initial draft did not mention Omar. Indian-American Senator Kamala Harris, for example, said that it would draw attention to Omar and endanger her.

As a compromise to get the vocal dissenters to back the resolution, references to Muslims and African-Americans were added. The final version included other religions, Asians, immigrants, gays, lesbians and transgender people and other minorities. But it left out Budhists, Mormons and others.

Rajwand Singh, the senior adviser to the National Sikh Campaign, said: "We welcome the resolution as it hits home for us as we have been victims of hatred and violence because of our identity."

The opposition was because of the watering down of the resolution to deflect the prime reason for it - anti-Jewish comments from a Democrat. A Jewish Representative Lee Zeldin, for example, called the resolution "spineless".

Omar and two other Muslim Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Andre Carson, turned it around making it a victory for themselves and proclaimed: "It's the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation's history."

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter