Adios Modi: Urging Houston City Council to Boycott “Howdy Modi”


On September 17, 2019, I attended the Houston City Council meeting to speak against the upcoming “Howdy Modi” event and urge city officials to decline participation.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be visiting Houston, TX on September 22 for a mega-rally dubbed “Howdy Modi.” City leaders, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, plan to attend the partisan Indian political event, which some have termed a “pep rally” for Modi.

“Modi’s hands are stained with blood,” I stated at the city council meeting. “Those who shake his hand in welcome cannot wash their hands of complicity in his crimes.”

“Howdy Modi” is being organized by leaders of US branches of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS, often referred to as a paramilitary, is infamous for its members dressing in uniforms which strongly resemble those worn by members of the Hitler Youth. It was founded in 1925, the same year that the Nazi party was reformulated with Hitler as its leader. In addition to drawing inspiration from the Nazis, the RSS modeled itself after Mussolini’s fascist movement in Italy.

M.S. Golwalkar, who headed the RSS from 1940 to 1973, wrote glowingly in support of Nazi racial policy. Golwalkar described those who refuse to “glorify the Hindu Race and Nation” as “traitors” and called it treason for an Indian to convert away from Hinduism. In 1939, he further wrote, “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here.” He called this “a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

The RSS has been repeatedly accused of instigating violence. It has been banned several times, the first time following the assassination of M.K. Gandhi by a former RSS member. In 2002, Human Rights Watch named the RSS and its subsidiaries as the groups responsible for an anti-Muslim pogrom that killed 2,000 in the Indian state of Gujarat. In 2012, Swami Aseemanand, a full-time RSS worker, confessed to orchestrating several terrorist bombings which claimed hundreds of lives from 2006 to 2008. In its June 2019 report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom warned that the RSS’s agenda “to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus is a significant contributor to the rise of religious violence and persecution.”

In my remarks protesting the City of Houston’s participation in “Howdy Modi,” I urged them to instead say “Adios Modi.” My full remarks were as follows:

Last month, a white supremacist terrorist murdered 22 people in El Paso, Texas.

His evil act was inspired by the murder of 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

That man’s evil act was inspired by the murder of 77 people in Norway in 2011.

In Norway, terrorist Anders Breivik left a manifesto that describes how he was inspired by other extremist and nationalist groups around the globe.

Breivik pointed to the RSS in India.

He praised the “right wing Hindu nationalism” of the RSS and its goal of making India a “Hindu nation.” He praised the RSS for how “they dominate the streets… and often riot and attack Muslims.” He said the goals of white supremacists and the RSS are “identical” and that they should “learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible.”

The RSS is a fascist paramilitary founded in 1925 — the same year that Hitler published Mein Kampf. The RSS developed with inspiration from the Nazis. And it produced Narendra Modi.

In 2002, Modi presided as soldiers of the RSS massacred 2,000 Muslims. They gang-raped women, hacked people to death, burned people alive. Leaders of the pogrom later confessed on camera that Modi sanctioned their violence.

For this reason, Modi was banned from entering the USA for over 10 years.

Today, under Modi’s iron-fisted regime, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and every Hindu who disagrees with the hate, violence, and supremacy of the RSS lives in fear of their lives.

Modi’s hands are stained with blood. Those who shake his hand in welcome cannot wash their hands of complicity in his crimes.

Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

So what then if you roll out the red carpet for the oppressor?

The philosopher Plato said, “Silence is consent.”

So what then if you raise your voice in support of the oppressor?

Rather than “Howdy, Modi,” the City of Houston ought to be saying, “Adios, Modi.”

Pieter Friedrich is an activist

Originally published in Medium



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