On the eve of Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s Sept. 22 Houston rally, dubbed “Howdy Modi!”, in which President Trump is expected to share the stage with the visiting Indian leader, a coalition of social justice organizations and rights groups gathered at the CAIR-Houston office to deplore the event, calling it “a propaganda exercise of an authoritarian ruler.”
The speakers at the press conference that included Sarah Philips from Azad Austin, Sunita Viswanath from New York-based Hindus for Human Rights and Pieter Friedrich, a South Asian Affairs analyst from California, among others, said the “Howdy Modi” event is a partisan Indian political exercise to promote Modi abroad to distract attention from “the atrocities of his totalitarian regime in India.” It was organized under the banner Alliance for Justice and Accountability.
They said since 2014, and especially since Modi’s reelection in 2019, India has suffered a wave of lynching of minorities — mostly Muslim and Dalits — in the name of “cow protection” and, more recently, in the name of the Hindu deity Ram.
“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,” Friedrich said.
He said on Sept. 19 Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA 30th District) confirmed that he was dropping out of “Howdy Modi.” His decision was “especially shocking”, considering that not only he is co-chair of the India Caucus, but also that he recently wrote to his colleagues in U.S. Congress urging them to join the event.
Alluding to President Trump he said, “It’s shameful for any American politician to participate in a self-promotional event hosted by a pogrom-tainted foreign leader on U.S. soil. Modi’s hands are stained with blood,” Friedrich alleged.
Other speakers, referring to Trump and Modi, said “the two tyrants” are coming together. “I am a Hindu, but I do not believe in the Hindutva propagated by the BJP and its allies. We need to stand up together against oppression and injustice everywhere, including in India and the U.S.” Viswanath said.