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Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions dissociates from VHP-A event
VHP-A stands exposed for peddling divisive ideologies while appropriating Swami Vivekananda


Friday, September 13, 2013

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 [1].

In an official statement of withdrawal issued today, CPWR stated it was not aware that the event involved "organizations promoting controversial political positions [2]". "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.

The mission statement of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions 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 [3]." 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 [4].

The network of Hindutva supremacist organizations, with whom VHP-A has substantial links, have been the primary instigators of the vast majority of sectarian sconflicts and hate-based violence in India. They were responsible for the assassination of Gandhi (1948), the demolition of the famed Babri mosque that led to over 2,000 deaths all over India (1992), the gruesome mass murder of 2,000 Muslim minorities in Gujarat in 2002 for which the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi has been banned from entering the United States and the European Union, and for fuelling hundreds of sectarian pogroms, including the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Kandhamal in the state of Odisha in 2007.

"Hindutva extremists are exploiting Swami Vivekananda's name to surreptitiously gain credibility and respectability in the US. On the one hand the 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 attempts by Hindutva organizations to legitimize their virulent politics by appropriating the legacies of important historical personalities such as Swami Vivekananda," said Dr. Raja Swamy, also a CAG spokesperson . "These have gone largely unnoticed and unchallenged until now mostly due to the general lack of understanding on the part of US institutions of the divisive and violent agenda of Hindutva groups in India," Dr. 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.

  1. Mr. Raja Swamy
    Phone: 864-804-0216

  2. Mr. Shaik Ubaid
    Phone: 516-567-0783

  3. Coalition Against Genocide
    Phone/Fax: (443) 927-9039
    Email: media@coalitionagainstgenocide.org


1. CPWR Official Statement of Withdrawal

2. World Without Borders - 2013

3. CPWR's Mission Statement

4. 2001: International Religious Freedom Report - India:

5. Maharashtra Police registers case against VHP leader Praveen Togadia for hate speech

6. Church groups condemn VHP leader Togadia's hate speech

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