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Muslim NRIs in America help Gujarat victims
By Kaleem Kawaja

Washington, DC: The recent horrible massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, and the large scale destruction of their houses, properties, mosques has been a rude shock to the about 150,000 Indian Muslims who live in U.S. In conjunction with some Indian expatriates of other religious faiths, who have also been shocked by this horrible anti-Muslim violence, Indian Muslim groups have organized demonstrations and rallies in several cities. Also they are busy holding fund raising campaigns and dinners to collect relief funds for the victims. The sentiment in the expatriate Indian Muslim community to help their brothers & sisters in Gujarat is overwhelming.

Various major American newspapers like New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, have provided ample coverage to the news of the killing of Muslims in Gujarat and the inability of the government to stop it. At the urging of the American Muslim Council, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom - an arm of the US State Department issued a statement strongly condemning the anti-Muslim violence. Several American Human Rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights USA, have issued statements strongly deploring the large scale violence against the Muslims of Gujarat.

In Washington DC, the Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM), organized a peace rally on March 6 in cooperation with other Indian communal harmony organizations, in-front of the Indian embassy building. On March 8, the American Federation of Muslims from India (AFMI) held a demonstration in front of the Indian consulate in New York. On March 22, the Indian Muslim Relief Committee (IMRC) joined some Indian organizations in a rally at the Indian consulate in San Francisco.

On March 5, AIM led a delegation of 10 Indian Muslim expatriates to meet with Mr Lalit Mansingh, India's ambassador to US, to protest the failure of the Gujarat and Indian government to protect the Muslims of Gujarat from the violence organized by violent Hindu groups. On April 1, a 5-member delegation from AIM held a meeting with four members of Indian parliament who were on a visit to Washington. The members of parliament were: PM Sayeed, Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha; Gen Shankar Roy choudhry; Anadicharan Sahu; TN Chaturvedi. The AIM delegation presented a memorandum to the MPs and lodged a strong protest with them against the total failure of the Gujarat and Indian government to protect the Muslim citizens of Gujarat from violent Hindu groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, who they appealed should be banned.

International Service Society of Michigan, an NRI group and some other NRI groups, including AIM, have joined hands to publish advertisements in major newspapers in India like Indian Express, Hindu and Indian community newspapers in US like India Abroad, asking Prime Minister Vajpayee to take immediate effective steps to stop the violence against Muslims in Gujarat, to fully rehabilitate the victims of the carnage, and to replace the Modi government with President's rule. In major cities like Washington DC, New York and Chicago panel discussion and seminars are being held to analyze the serious problem of political parties like BJP exploiting religion based violence to consolidate their vote banks for election.

Students of Indian heritage from diverse religious backgrounds, in various universities in America, have organized seminars to discuss what they term the rise of fascism in the garb of Hindu revival, that frequently targets the Muslim and Christian minorities. Even though a substantial number of Hindus in the US based NRI community frequently sympathize with VHP and BJP, this time they have been shocked at the extensive coverage of the anti-Muslim carnage in Gujarat in the American media, and the across the board condemnation of the Indian Government for their failure to stop the sectarian mayhem.

The writer is a director of the Association of Indian Muslims in America of Washington DC.

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