Earlier this month, Rajiv Satyal, an American comedian of Indian origin, came under attack from assorted Islamists, ‘liberals’, and the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) for merely agreeing to perform at an event attended Sadhavi Ritambhara’s event, a Hindu leader they deemed Islamophobic.
The comedian had agreed to emcee a program organised by the Param Shakti Peeth of America Foundation, which was also to be attended by Sadhvi Ritambhara to raise funds for the underprivileged people back in India.
However, Satyal was not the one to be cowed down by online attacks and bullying. Unfazed by the attacks, the comedian went ahead with his commitment and hosted the program, which took place on September 17 and was also attended by Sadhvi Ritambhara.
Islamists and social media users attack Rajiv Satyal after Indian American Muslim Council attack him for agreeing to share the stage with Sadhavi Ritambhara
Then, on September 22, he shared his ordeal with the world and penned an article on Substack, providing a window into the kind of online attacks he had faced for hosting an event where Sadhvi Ritambhara raised funds to help homeless women and children.
Just five days before the event, i.e. on September 12, Satyal writes, he received an email from one Shazia asking him to dissociate himself from an event attended by Sadhvi Ritambhara, whom she described as the “single-most powerful instrument for whipping up anti-Muslim violence” in Indian states. She also shared misinformation and random incidents to allege that Sadhvi Ritambhara has been inciting hatred against minorities in India for decades.
Satyal, who had by then received hundreds of such emails and messages asking him not to perform at the program because Sadhvi Ritambhara was an invitee, replied a slightly exasperated email to Shazia, conveying to her that he won’t give in to bullying.
IAMC runs a polarising hate campaign to vilify and attack Sadhavi Ritambhara
Shortly afterwards, Satyal started receiving tweets from the official Twitter account of the Indian American Muslim Council, which scare mongered over the event featuring Sadhavi Ritambhara and started targeting the comedian for agreeing to perform in the said program.
This Saturday, Sadhvi Ritambhara, a Hindu supremacist hate monger, has been invited by a far-right group to speak at the @Hyatt in Long Beach, CA. @funnyindian Why are you associating yourself with an Islamophobe?— Indian American Muslim Council (@IAMCouncil) September 15, 2022
More on RItambhara: https://t.co/T9wXJdrD5t#gobackritambhara pic.twitter.com/W6f7frQlYd
That only worsened attacks against Satyal, who started receiving nasty tweets in droves for accepting the proposal and sharing the stage with Sadhavi Ritambhara. The IAMC has been, for a long time, running motivated propaganda against the Hindu leader, making preposterous allegations against her and portraying her as an anti-Muslim bigot.
Besides inflaming communal passions, the IAMC has also organised protests and rallies in the United States to oppose the Hindu leader’s event. In days before the scheduled event, the IAMC ran a particularly charged-up social media campaign, attacking and vilifying the Hindu leader and seeking support from its followers to protest against her event.
Muslim Council fails to respond to Satyal’s overtures seeking to iron out differences
The attacks, Satyal confesses, had him intrigued about discovering more information about Sadhvi Ritambhara. Before agreeing to the program, Satyal did not know much about who Ritambhara was or her past antecedents, he wrote in his article on Substack. However, after facing attacks online, he endeavoured to find more information about the figure whose presence at the program emceed by him had triggered such a polarising reaction from a section of bigoted social media users.
But despite his conscious attempts, he could not find anything to corroborate the malicious allegations levelled against Sadhvi Ritambhara by the IAMC and its Twitter minions. He held it to media bias and popular prejudice among the propagandists, who instead of verifying the claims made about the Sadhavi, continued propagating myths that were impossible to verify.
In his response, Satyal also spoke about the virtue of tolerance that Hinduism teaches and told his critics to engage in conversation instead of fearmongering and attacking people online.
“One of the key tenets of Hinduism is Tolerance. I pride myself on being as understanding a person as I can be. I’m continuously striving to “get” where people are coming from. I might not agree with you, but it’s my inherent curiosity and boundless pursuit of the truth that push me at least to know what you are saying,” he wrote.
Satyal also sent a message to the Muslim Council, informing them that he will be emceeing the event on September 17 and that he is up for ironing out the differences in the following week. But, along the expected lines, Satyal did not receive any response from the Indian American Muslim Council.
“If the government of India won’t serve Hindus, who is going to stand up for Hinduism?”: Rajiv Satyal
Towards the end, the comedian also spoke about how India remains the only country that millions of Hindus across the world can call home and escape to in case of persecution. If Christians in the United States are persecuted, they need not worry, they have other countries to flee to. Hindus, on the contrary, have only India because that is the only solitary large nation with a sizeable Hindu population.
“…India is the solitary large Hindu nation (Nepal and Mauritius are small), surrounded by Muslim nations. Much like there’s Pakistan and Afghanistan, India is known as Hindustan, a.k.a., the Land of Hindus…If the Indian government isn’t going to serve, again, as a counterbalance and stand up for Hinduism, who will? Indian Hindus have long been too quick to acquiesce to others’ standards,” he wrote.
The comedian, while concluding, also had a piece of advice for his detractors and critics who attacked him for emceeing an event attended by Sadhvi Ritambhara.
“I’m a peaceful guy. I’m a small guy. But I also come from a line of Punjabi soldiers, and I’ll go to battle for myself and my family at a moment’s notice. And though it might seem laughable at first, anyone who’s seen the angry me can attest that you don’t want to push me too hard. If I get mildly upset, it’s kinda cute: someone this little doesn’t have a temper; he has a tantrum. But once I’m super pissed off, what people tell me is remarkably consistent: “You transform into a completely different person. It’s terrifying,” wrote Satyal, cautioning his attackers.
Islamists in Birmingham protest against Sadhavi Ritambhara’s event
Curiously, the online attacks against Rajiv Satyal in the United States coincided with physical attacks against Hindus in Leicester, United Kingdom. Leicester City in England’s East Midlands region has witnessed a sharp increase in targeted attacks against the Hindu community. The orgy of violence by Islamists began soon after India clinched victory against Pakistan in the group stage match of the Asia Cup on August 28.
However, weeks later, the Islamist ire shifted to Hindu temples in the region. On September 20 (local time), Islamists had planned to gherao Durga Bhawan Mandir (Hindu temple) located at 360 Spon Lane, B66 Birmingham, allegedly against an event of Sadhvi Ritambhara.
OpIndia spoke to the office of Sadhvi Ritambhara, and the officials informed us that the whole UK trip of Sadhvi Ritambhara was postponed owing to her poor health. While Sadhvi is recovering and the new dates of the events are yet to be issued, Islamist organizations running propaganda against her since the announcement of the events are celebrating that they got the event ‘cancelled.’ Sadhvi’s office, however, confirmed that such claims were false, and the event was postponed only because of her poor health.
Param Shakti Peeth, which is Sadhvi’s organisation’s branch in the UK, had announced that the event was postponed on September 16. In a Facebook post, they wrote, “Namo Narayan, Pujya Didimaaji’s Health has had a setback. Thousands of ‘Get Well Soon’ messages have been conveyed to her. Regrettably, her events in the UK have been postponed. Apologies to her devotees.”