Civil rights groups call on Teaneck mayor to tackle Hindu supremacist threat to peace, pluralism in township
IAMC and civil rights groups met with Teaneck officials to discuss Hindu supremacism and potential solutions to the growing community divide.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Teaneck, New Jersey (November 15, 2022) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) joined a delegation of civil rights organizations for a meeting with Mayor Jim Dunleavy and City Council Member Michael Pagan of Teaneck, New Jersey, to discuss the growing threat of Hindu supremacism (Hindutva) in communities across the state.
The delegation comprised of representatives from IAMC, Hindus for Human Rights, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) New Jersey, who called on the Teaneck leadership to take swift and strong action against the hateful ideology of Hindutva to prevent further divisions within the community.
Mayor Dunleavy welcomed the discussion and promised to work towards the creation of an interfaith advisory council to ensure that relations between different faith-based communities are maintained.
“We appreciate Mayor Dunleavy and Councilman Pagan’s willingness to meet with us and to work towards a solution that will unite Teaneck’s diverse and vibrant community,” said Shaheen Khateeb, a representative of IAMC’s New Jersey chapter.
“We hope this meeting will be the first step towards greater understanding between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and other faith and non-faith communities in our town.”
“Both Mayor Dunleavy and Councilmember Pagan told us they recognized how important it is to have such candid conversations about community concerns,” said Sunita Vishwanath, representing Hindus for Human Rights. “This was an opportunity for me to show them that there are many perspectives within the Hindu community; and also that some Hindus are in fierce solidarity with our Muslim siblings.”
This meeting was held two months after a man identifying himself as Vivek attended a Teaneck city council meeting, where he went on the stage to deliver an uninterrupted hate speech while referring to Muslims as “terrorists and rapists.” He claimed that Muslims had “enjoyed” 9/11 and immigrated to the United States and India to “destroy” those countries.
“You talk about any rape in the country (India) that is happening by all the Muslims over there. These Muslims, they get all the girls… They try to convert all of them. After that, they get the babies, and kill the girls,” he claimed.
The incident caused outrage within the Teaneck Muslim community, sparking calls for local leadership to learn how to identify displays of Hindu supremacist hate and condemn them. In October, Mayor Dunleavy and city council members apologized for allowing the Hindu extremist to abuse the constituents’ platform.
“In only a few short months, some of the Hindu supremacists across the state of New Jersey – including in Teaneck – have engaged in open displays of their hateful ideology, which has left the Muslim community feeling unsafe,” said Mohammad Jawad, also representing IAMC’s NJ chapter.
“We are glad that the leadership of Teaneck is willing and eager to work with us towards resolving this problem and restoring harmony in our community,” Jawad added.