Recent attacks on IAMC
Washington, D.C., Sep 16, 2021
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) was founded on August 15, 2002 as an advocacy organization dedicated to peace, pluralism and justice in India as well as the United States. We have consistently highlighted human rights abuses and violations of religious freedom in India, especially of religious minorities and the caste oppressed. Over the years, and quite predictably, we have drawn the ire of organizations based in the US that are demonstrably acting as front organizations for Hindutva or Hindu nationalism. They have been relentless in their attacks on us and our work. As we raised our voices for the oppressed and persecuted in the halls of Congress, and partnered with renowned international human rights organizations and activists, interfaith groups, universities and academics, so did the Hindutva attacks on us increase in due proportion. At the forefront of these attacks has been the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a leading apologist for Hindutva and for India’s Hindu nationalist government.
It is a testament to the effectiveness of our advocacy that over a year ago, HAF felt compelled to partner with organizations of zero credibility in a desperate bid to undermine ours. One such partner of the HAF is the Middle East Forum (MEF), an organization that is on record as having inspired Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 innocent people in 2011. Breivik’s manifesto spoke about Hindu nationalism as one of his sources of inspiration. MEF also has a notorious reputation of harboring and protecting sexual predators. At least 4 women have filed sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuits against MEF involving harassment of 14 female employees. The harrowing details include MEF’s second in command Gregg Roman forcibly having sex with an 18 year old intern as a condition for giving her a completion certificate, making misogynistic comments such as “Non-Jewish women are made for sex,” and counting the number of times female employees went to the restroom. MEF President Daniel Pipes, rather than protecting female employees, reportedly defended Roman by claiming that “because priests who molest children were permitted by the Catholic Church to remain priests, Defendant Greg Roman should be permitted to continue his employment at the MEF.”
These joint HAF-MEF attacks on IAMC have ranged from attempts to tie us to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), to projecting us as a radical outfit that fits neatly into HAF’s and MEF’s Islamophobic stereotypes. Thankfully our partners and allies have seen through it all, and know us for our unwavering commitment to pluralism, interfaith harmony and justice for people of all faiths or no faith.
Recently IAMC held a retreat, as a means of seeking input from Indian Americans across the US on ways to move the international community towards urgent action given India’s rapidly deteriorating situation with respect to human rights and religious freedom. Invitees were mostly Muslims of Indian origin who have a shared concern for the plight of Muslims and other minorities in India. Needless to say, having an opportunity to attend IAMC’s retreat is hardly an endorsement from IAMC, and certainly not for views they may hold on other issues.
Mufti Yasir, a religious Imam from Chicago, was one of the attendees at the retreat. Apparently, he later tweeted about having attended IAMC’s retreat and separately endorsed the Taliban of Afghanistan. In this regard, criticism of IAMC for having allowed Mufti Yasir to attend the retreat is absurd.
Needless to say, there is no basis for projecting IAMC as being inclined towards or endorsing Taliban in any way, shape or form. IAMC has consistently fought for pluralism over the last 19 years of our existence as an organization. While our efforts have been focused on India, we believe pluralism, equitable treatment by the state and equal citizenship rights should be the bedrock for any society including Afghanistan. We also bemoan the horrific toll in human lives, both Afghan and American, that is the bitter fruit of America’s 20 year war in Afghanistan. We have no ties to any foreign body and our funding comes entirely from the Indian American and Muslim American communities within the United States who are now more activated than ever to prevent India from descending into complete fascism.
We stand ready to defend our work and our reputation, in a court of law if needed. These attacks only inspire us to do more, because they show that our adversaries are unnerved by the credibility we have earned with our tenacious advocacy, which includes exposing Hindutva and its pernicious effects, both in India and the US.