While legislators in Canada were bending over backwards last week, flaunting their ‘anti-Islamophobia’ credentials, an Islamic Centre in Toronto was facing accusations of ‘Hinduphobia’ from the largely apolitical community of Hindu Canadians.
Their angst was directed at the Noor Cultural Centre that was hosting an event titled “Dalit and Muslim persecution in India” barely days before the world’s largest democracy went to the polls to pass verdict on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Had the discussion featured speakers from both sides of the Indian political divide, allegations of ‘Hinduphobia’ or anti-India hate would have had no foundations. However, both speakers invited had made no secret of their hostility towards the Indian prime minister.
The controversy further escalated when a stack of emails was leaked to the Hindu community that contained emails sent by Noor Centre’s Khadija Kanji to Toronto’s Inter-Faith Council.
In the email, while discussing the Nigerian Boko Haram’s practice of kidnapping and raping girls, Kanji appears to defend the Islamic attack on India by the Arab invader Mohammad Bin Qasim who raped Hindu women and sold thousands of them as slaves in Arabia, claiming it “was in line with standard practice of the time.”
To make her argument, Kanji wrote:
“Many towering figures in civilizational lore have engaged in brutal gendered violence – from the [Hindu] gods Brahma, Siva and Vishnu (who raped Anasuya) to Richard the Lionheart to Christopher Columbus, among many others.”
I asked Ms Kanji if she had used such hateful language. She admitted but claimed she had used the reference to Hindu gods in ‘context’ of the discussion. She sent me another email where she had explained:
“If it is not okay to argue in this way about Hinduism – by de-contextualizing theology and treating singular historical incidents as representative and normative of religion and its followers – then it is not okay to do the same for Islam and Muslims.”
Hindus on social media were shocked. Ragini Sharma, a PhD from York University who had been leading the campaign against the Noor Centre event, labelling it as ‘Hinduphobic,’ told me:
“I am shocked and deeply hurt at the hatred that Khadijah has expressed towards India, Hindus and Hindu religion in this email. The depravity of the hate-filled message speaks to a deep prejudice she harbours.”
“The reference to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu as rapists is deeply hurtful to Hindus. She [Kanji] displays her complete ignorance about Hinduism when [she] applies an Islamic lens to understanding Puranic Hindu stories.”
Sharma demanded that “the Noor Center needs to be held responsible for holding an event that promotes hate towards the Indians and Hindu community of Toronto. We will be pursuing this further. There is no place in Canada’s multicultural society for such hate-mongering.”
Vidhya Dhar, a Kashmiri Hindu who as a child survived the Hindu genocide in Kashmir in 1990 also expressed his deep hurt at the “humiliation” heaped on the 40 Hindus that attended and were “policed by goons” inside the mosque. He wrote:
“As a practising Hindu, I am shocked to read this spiteful comment on the three dynamic forces operative within the Hindu cosmos symbolized by the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Mocking our Gods by comparing them to Christopher Columbus reflects the writer’s hatred towards Hindus.”
At the discussion, Muslim speaker Sanobar Umar accused the ‘Hindu Right’ of being in cahoots with American White Supremacists and then demanded Prime Minister Modi be sent to prison for abandoning his wife.
Outside the Islamic Centre, a handful of Hindu Canadians protested holding placards that demanded an end to Hinduphobia and anti-India hysteria in Canada.
Interestingly, not a single newspaper dared to report on the event lest Islamists get upset. Which begs the question: What are Indian diplomats doing as India’s reputation and character of its democracy is trampled by well-heeled Islamists in Canada?