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Hindutva extremists exploiting Swami Vivekanda's name to surreptitiously gain credibility and respectability in the U.S., says CAG

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• VHP-A loses major American co-sponsor for event commemorating Swami Vivekananda
• Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions dissociates from event and all its co-sponsors

IMO News Service

Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 and to combating extremist ideologies that were its genesis, today welcomed the statement issued by Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) dissociating itself from the "World Without Borders" event organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHP-A) to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

In an official statement of withdrawal issued today, CPWR stated that it was not informed that the event involved by "organizations promoting controversial political positions". "While we do honor and promote the ideals of Swami Vivekananda, we respectfully withdraw our name from any co-hosting or co-sponsorship of the “World Without Borders” event and any connection to this event or its other co-sponsors," the statement added.

Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions mission statement declares that it was "created to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world." VHP-A is the US affiliate of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP-World Hindu Council), which is the socio-cultural wing of a network of extreme right-wing organizations in India that adhere to the ideology of Hindutva (which is different from the religion of Hinduism). The VHP has been rightly characterized as "extremist" in the U.S. State Department's annual International Religious Freedom Reports, and has been cited in almost every International Religious Freedom annual report since 2001 for its violations of religious freedom against minorities.

"Hindutva extremists were exploiting Swami Vivekanda's name to surreptitiously gain credibility and respectability in the US. On the one hand VHP is fanning the flames of currently raging sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar in India through virulent anti-minority propaganda and on the other its followers in the US are trying to project Hindu supremacist ideology of Hindutva as pluralistic," said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, a spokesperson for CAG.

"This incident exemplifies how the Hindutva organizations have managed to mask their virulent politics by appropriating the legacies of important historical personalities such as Swami Vivekananda." said Raja Swamy, also a CAG spokesperson . "These have gone largely unnoticed and unchallenged until now largely due to the general lack of understanding on the part of US institutions of the divisive and violent agenda of these groups in India," Mr. Swamy added.

The Coalition Against Genocide is composed of a diverse group of organizations and individuals in the United States and Canada that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to demand accountability and justice.
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