Hindu American Foundation files a Defamation Suit against Hindu, Muslim and Christian Organisations
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a US based charity organisation, has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court, against Hindu, Muslim, and Christian organisations for defamation and libel.
The suit is also targeting news outlet Al Jazeera and Journalist, Raqib Hameed Naik, for writing an article about the funding of the HAF and for quoting the accused groups with information on HAF. The defendants in the case are: Sunita Viswanath and Raju Rajagopal from Hindus for Human Rights, Rasheed Ahmed from Indian American Muslim Council, John Prabhudoss from the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations and South Asian history professor Audrey Truschke, from Rutgers University.
In the cease and desist letters issued by the HAF, the organisation has accused the defendants of, “falsely accuse(ing) HAF of contributing to and/or perpetuating heinous and despicable crimes against humanity — acts of massacres, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, forced-conversions, and other forms of violence against, and subjugation of, religious minorities in India.” According to religionnews.com, the organisation takes issue with being associated with Hindutva and the organisations that adopt the ideology.
The article published in Al Jazeera cites information available publicly on USASpending.gov and other platforms to uncover how the HAF had been allegedly distributing federal COVID-19 relief funds to Hindutva organisations in India. GauriLankeshNews.com has also written about similar funneling of money to Sangh affiliated organisations like Sewa International.
HAF Support for Dominant Caste Hegemony
The HAF in the past has extended support to a number of organisations which have shown blatant castiesm. The most recent example is its involvement in the Cisco case that took place last year. Cisco was being sued for caste discrimination, whereby Brahmin supervisors had revealed the caste of a Dalit employee to co-workers. In addition, the software developer who filed the case, even spoke of lesser pay, fewer opportunities, and poorer work conditions and terms than others in the company owing to caste discrimination by Brahmin supervisors. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Cisco for discrimination in July 2020. HAF filed a suit in support of Cisco, finding issue with the State’s linking of caste and religion.
Another instance of HAF showing its casteist leanings was in 2019 when it pushed back against Brandeis University’s anti-discrimination policy, being extended to cover caste discrimination as well. In a statement issued by HAF against the policy, they said: “Attempting to impose a policy on caste-based discrimination risks singling out, targeting, and unwittingly discriminated against Hindu students and faculty… as presumed offenders,”. In addition to this, the HAF, has even mentioned that while it is against all forms of discrimination, caste is not an “inherently discriminatory concept”.
2016 saw a campaign by HAF and other Hindu organisations, to remove the word Dalit from the California Board of Education’s text books. The campaign instead wanted to delink the religious roots from caste. This blatant caste erasure seems to be a key agenda of the HAF, whereby there is a constant effort made to deny castiesm, its religious and textual sources, and extend support and protection to upper caste perpetrators.
It is no surprise to see the funding patterns of the HAF and its ties to Hindutva organisations, when looking at the organisation’s politics. While it denies relations to the term ‘Hindutva’, the organisation in its very public ideological foundations, perfectly aligns with the same. This can be seen in its constant praise for and upholding of Brahmanical principals and figures, its ideology of a once pure and righteous varna system, and constant attempts at erasure of caste discrimination.