The presidential aspirant, Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat representative from Hawaii, who was the first Hindu to enter the US Congress in 2012 has claimed that she has been made a ‘victim of religious bigotry’ as some media outlets have targeted her over her Hindu name and accused her supporters, who have Hindu names, of being ‘Hindu nationalists’.
Gabbard in her op-ed written for a local publication, the Religious News Services, described the campaign against her and her supporters and donors as “profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis”.
Talking about she being slammed for her meeting with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, she wrote in her article that, “My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as ‘proof’ of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President (Barack) Obama, Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, President (Donald) Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him.”
The Hawaii lawmaker said in the article that she would be contesting for the 2020 Presidential elections. “I am proud to be the first Hindu-American to have been elected to Congress, and now, the first Hindu-American to run for president.”
“And, while the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this historic first, maybe even informed Americans at large about the world’s third-largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard was the first Representative to use Bhagavad Gita at her swearing-in ceremony.
We’ve seen how destructive religious bigotry is right here in America. Whether Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, atheist—whatever path people have chosen—every one of us must stand up & condemn those who foment bigotry based on religion, race, or gender. https://t.co/SeZfDkZQvh
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 27, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard does not have direct links to India or any ancestry with Hinduism. It was her mother who embraced Hinduism, and later her father followed. Her family gave her and other siblings the Hindu names. Tulsi is a strict vegetarian from childhood and follows the Gaudiya Vaishnavism sect.
Gabbard has always been very vocal about her affection for India and has regularly defended India against elements in the States who accuse our country of religious bigotry while excusing the real bigotry displayed by Islamic countries.
Gabbard stressing on the strong ties between the US and India wrote, “The strategic partnership between our two countries has been a priority for several decades now. To question my commitment to my country, while not questioning non-Hindu leaders, creates a double standard that can only be rooted in one thing: ‘religious bigotry’. I am Hindu and they are not,” she said.
Gabbard, in her article, has also made references to the attacks made against her by her political opponents during the 2012 and 2014 elections, when her Republican opponent had stated publicly that a Hindu should not be allowed to serve in the US Congress and that Hinduism is incompatible with the US Constitution. In the 2016 race for Congress, her Republican opponent said repeatedly that a vote for her was a vote for the devil because of her religion, Gabbard wrote.
Earlier too, in 2017, the Hindu Lawmaker had blasted CNN for reinforcing stereotypes about Hindus and Hinduism through a series it broadcasted, titled “Believer”. She had also claimed that the show virtually painted entire Hindu community as “cannibals” and that Reza Aslan, the host of the show, was behaving as if he was touring a zoo. She feared that the show will increase Hinduphobia and people’s misunderstanding about Hindus.