CoHNA lauds breakthrough resolution on a growing problem with historical roots

April 23, 2024. Washington DC: The recently introduced House Resolution 1131 (H.Res 1131) is a much required and overdue recognition of the contribution of Hindu Americans to the United States as well as a critical acknowledgement of the violence the community has faced in the past few years. The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) thanks Rep. Shri Thanedar (D – MI) for his leadership and efforts in introducing this pioneering effort to secure the safety of a minority community in the US. 

Hinduphobia has been in the news recently due to a series of attacks on Hindu Temples in the Bay Area  – six or more in just two months between December 2023 and January 2024. The situation got so bad that five Congressional Representatives recently wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking for more focused attention and action. 

“Human Rights are an American Value,” said Shri Thanedar as he introduced H.Res 1131, and highlighted the poor response from law enforcement to the seemingly coordinated series of attacks against Hindu places of worship. The resolution is titled “Celebrating Hindu Americans, and condemning attacks on Hindu places of worship, Hinduphobia, and anti-Hindu bigotry, and for other purposes.”

“We will not tolerate the Hinduphobia we have seen,” he said, echoing remarks he had made at CoHNA’s 2nd National Hindu Advocacy Day on the Hill in 2023. During the event, he was briefed on the historical and pervasive yet insidious nature of Hinduphobia and in the months to come the pace and the nature of the hate against Hindus would only escalate.

“We at CoHNA agree with the assessment of Shri Thanedar and thank him for bringing attention to the growing volume of hate directed against a small minority community,” said Nikunj Trivedi, President of CoHNA. “We have consistently said when attacks on a community go unpunished, fundamental human rights like freedom of religion cease to mean much, so we urge all our lawmakers to support and vote for H.Res 1131.” 

CoHNA has previously conducted three congressional briefings on the different facets and areas Hinduphobia plays out in – such as media, academia, popular culture, institutional policies, and even basic physical safety.  The issue of Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hate was also underscored in a comprehensive study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University in 2022, revealing the widespread and insidious nature of these prejudices. 

Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hate have a long history in United States

While the recent attacks on Hindu temples have made news, the problem of Hinduphobia is a lot deeper and older. Below we highlight just a few of the more significant acts of physical hate against Hindus in the US.

  1. Temple attacks in California (vandalization or burglaries)
    1. Pancha Mukha Hanuman Temple in Dublin (Jan. 11). 
    2. Shree Ashta Lakshmi Temple in Fremont (Jan. 5), 
    3. Shiv Durga Temple in Santa Clara (Dec. 30), 
    4. Vijay’s Sherawali Temple in Hayward (Dec. 24), 
    5. The Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Newark (Dec. 22)
    6. Hari Om Radha Krishna Mandir in Sacramento (Oct 30)
  2. It’s not just California. Hindu temples are vulnerable coast to coast, be it the  Rio Grande Valley, TX  in June 2020 or the multiple attacks on the Tulsi Mandir in Queens NY in August 2022. The latter was one of the rare times it was treated as a hate crime and the perpetrators were arrested.
  3. Attacks on Hindu individuals – be it women in a Texas parking lot or a Hindu man just visiting his local Taco Bell to eat. In August 2022, Krishnan Iyer’s innocuous order for a bean burrito, led to a 10 minute verbal assault. 21 months later, the attacker has yet to face any consequences for this action – further evidence of Hinduphobia because crime against Hindus is often not prosecuted. 
  4. We also see the repeated and frequent desecration of Mahatma Gandhi statues, one of the most famous Hindus in the west. His statues have faced violence all over the country, such as the slew of attacks in 2022 spanning  Washington DCUnion Square in New York City, and Chicago. In 2021 a statue in  Davis, CA was similarly targeted. Washington, DC saw two separate attacks on June 4, 2020, and on December 12, 2020.
  5. In September of 2021, Hindus in Atlanta woke up to signs featuring anti-Hindu dot busting signs protesting the building of a local temple. 
  6. Further back, New Jersey Hindus faced a series of racist and Hinduphobic attacks from 1975 to 1993, who targeted Hindus for their clothes and the bindi (dot) on our heads-the Dotbusters.

Lastly, Hinduphobia has a much older history in this country, such as the Bellingham Riots of 1907, when mobs in Washington state attacked and drove out several hundred immigrant laborers from India.

About CoHNA

CoHNA is a grassroots level advocacy and civil rights organization dedicated to improving the understanding of Hinduism in North America by working on matters related to the Hindu community and by educating the public about Hindu heritage and tradition. For more information, please visit https://cohna.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and on Instagram.

CoHNA team with Shri Thanedar at their Second Annual Hindu Advocacy Day