New Delhi: Tulsi Gabbard, still a US presidential candidate despite minimal support, has been criticised for tweeting about ‘Hinduphobia’ in US, with many accusing her of “covering for an anti-Muslim pogrom“.
In her tweet late Thursday, the Congresswoman said Hinduphobia in the US was “very real”. She also said she has experienced it during her election campaigns in the US. Gabbard claimed that US political leaders not only tolerate but also foment it.
Unfortunately, Hinduphobia is very real. I've experienced it directly in each of my campaigns for Congress & in this presidential race. Here's just one example of what Hindus face every day in our country. Sadly, our political leaders & media not only tolerate it, but foment it. https://t.co/60MDtszQHf
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 5, 2020
The 39-year-old Democrat was responding to a Facebook post about an alleged encounter between an Indian-American and a ‘Hinduphobic’ Uber driver that was shared on the social networking site by an user named Dr Sheenie Ambardar.
Ambardar, who identifies herself as a Kashmiri Hindu American, heads the Happiness Psychiatry in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
The Facebook post shared by her describes a “traumatic experience” that two women had while travelling in an Uber car.
According to the post, a woman and her sister were allegedly targetted by the Uber driver for their religious and ethnic identity. Referring to the recent Delhi riots, the driver allegedly said “Hindus were killings Muslims in India”, and later asked both women to exit the vehicle.
The riots in Northeast Delhi, which started on 24 February and went on for nearly three days, claimed over 40 lives.
‘Gabbard is a Modi, RSS supporter’
Ambardar’s reaction to the post ended with the words “Hinduphobia in America is REAL”, which was echoed by Gabbard in her tweet that has received over 3,700 comments and 10 times as many likes.
Many users have accused Gabbard of defending “fascism” in India. One Sujit Das, from Ann Arbor in Michigan, said: “Hindutva is fascism, and calling it such is not Hinduphobic. Denounce Modi and the Delhi pogroms.”
“Tulsi here is minimising or even covering for an anti-Muslim pogrom…reprehensible, jaw-dropping and disgraceful!!” said Toronto-based writer Jeff Halperin.
One user even raised questions about Gabbard’s ties with the BJP government in India and said: “#TulsiGabbard understands that criticising her for wearing colors of a foreign political party, the #BJP, on more than 1 occasion, speaking at 10+ #RSS events, giving platform to #RSS/#BJP spokesperson at her wedding & offering apologetics for #Modi has nothing to do w/religion.”
Another user said she was an “RSS and Modi supporter”.
You're a Modi and RSS supporting Hindu nationalist. Sit down.
— Sanwal Kazi (@sanwal18) March 5, 2020
“53 people died. Thousands fled homes. That’s just the recent Delhi carnage. Nauseating radicalisation, saffron terror,hate crimes. The lumpen goons hv begun attacking churches too- supp. by quasi terr. org RSS that you align w/. The Hinduphobia may well have been earned. Reflect (sic),” said another user named Sidrah, a blogger and professional working at a non-profit in Mumbai.
Some others chose images, ones that came to be recognised as the face of the Delhi riots, to target her instead of using words.
Hindu terrorist pic.twitter.com/yX0FkPFDdX
— Swami Sukhwindar Ali D'souza ☭ (@x_hindu_atheist) March 5, 2020
Users also suggested that discrimination faced by Hindus versus Muslims was a false equivalence.
Maybe this gave that Hindu in the Uber a small taste of what Muslims experience in India every day.
— Jaya (@JayaTigerLily) March 5, 2020
Others chose to criticise the term ‘Hinduphobia’ itself.
Hinduphobia is something which is artificially created..totally baseless.. in order to counter Islamophobia.
Its a result of propaganda run by western media and leftists.
— Nimisha (@Nimisha0610) March 5, 2020
Gabbard, a representative from Hawaii, is the first Hindu to be elected to the US Congress. She was born to American parents and raised in Hawaii. She is not of Indian-origin.