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Seattle resolution on caste 'Hinduphobic': Indian-American senator

By Lalit K Jha
February 23, 2023 09:08 IST
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Condemning a resolution passed by the Seattle City Council on caste discrimination, an eminent Indian-American state senator alleged the move showed the rise of 'Hinduphobia' in the United States.

IMAGE: Niraj Antani, State Senator in the Ohio Senate. Photograph: Kind courtesy @NirajAntani/Twitter

"I condemn in the strongest terms the ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council. Caste discrimination simply doesn't exist now," Niraj Antani, the first Hindu and Indian-American state senator in Ohio's history, said.


"Adding it to their non-discrimination policy is Hinduphobic, and is a tool those that are anti-Hindu use to discriminate against Hindus in America, in India, and around the world," he said.

Antani is the youngest Indian-American elected official in the nation.

"Instead of passing this racist policy, Seattle should be passing policies to protect Hindus from discrimination," he said.

The resolution moved by Kshama Sawant, an upper-caste Hindu, was approved by the Seattle City Council by six to one vote on Tuesday.

Seattle has now become the first US city to outlaw caste discrimination.

The ordinance adds 'caste' to the city's anti-discrimination ordinances.

The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), along with numerous organisations who had signed a joint letter opposing the Seattle City Council's caste ordinance, in a statement condemned the decision to include caste as part of its anti-discrimination policy.

The groups, while fully supporting attempts to tackle discrimination, raised concerns that such serious allegations require data showing systemic abuse -- a standard the city had failed to meet by relying on faulty data that was also pointed out in the survey from Carnegie Endowment in 2021, the statement said.

"This law itself is inherently discriminatory because, unlike other categories such as race, gender, religion, ancestry, etc. it singles out the South Asian community as requiring special monitoring," said CoHNA president Nikunj Trivedi.

"In taking this step, the city has relied on information from groups that have openly called for a dismantling of Hinduism -- thus becoming an avenue for platforming hate against a minority group. It seems Seattle city is also openly saying that South Asians require more monitoring than all other groups," he said.

"I was disappointed at how my voice was ignored. The council gave voice only to selected voices, without taking into consideration the fact that not all groups in the Dalit-Bahajun community support such a divisive and discriminatory bill," added CoHNA Steering Committee member and Dalit community activist Aldrin Deepak.

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Lalit K Jha
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