Tulsi Gabbard, a US Presidential candidate and former US Congresswoman, delivered a heart-felt video message via Twitter on the horrific anti-Hindu violence that has swept across Bangladesh over the last week.
In the video, she says –
“It broke my heart to see such hate and violence directed towards devotees of God in their temples in Bangladesh. For these jihadists to believe it’s pleasing to God to burn and destroy temples and the murti of such a saintly person as his Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, shows just how far away from God they really are.
God is love, and his true servants embody and manifest that love in this world. It is time for the supposedly secular government of Bangladesh to protect that country’s religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists, from the jihadist forces of hate.”
Without mincing words, she has clearly identified the religious bigotry and jihadists behind the latest bout of violence. Equally important is her terming of the Bangladesh government as ‘supposedly secular’. For far too long, the Islamic nation of Bangladesh has escaped the scrutiny that Pakistan invites. For that matter, even Pakistan has never been sanctioned or punished by the international system and the West for its ruthless persecution of Hindus and other minorities – after all, geopolitical interests trump all else.
USCIRF, a so-called non-partisan US federal body that claims to monitor religious freedom across the world, has clubbed Bharat with countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the critical ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ list, while Bangladesh is missing even from the less-serious ‘Special Watch List’!
In April, after an anti-Hindu pogrom broke out in Shalla upazila of Bangladesh’s Sumanganj district, Tulsi had spoken about how Hindus & religious minorities in Bangladesh continue to be targeted & persecuted, as they have been since 1971 when the Pakistani army systematically murdered, raped & drove from their homes.
Back then, she had said:
“As a member of Congress, I introduced a resolution that called for the protection of Hindus and religious minorities in Bangladesh; people who continue to be targeted and persecuted to this day. The height of this persecution actually began 50 years ago, when the Pakistani army systematically murdered, raped and drove from their homes, millions of Bengali Hindus because of their religion and ethnicity.
March 25th, 1971 was the beginning of the systematic targeting of Hindus in Bangladesh by the Pakistani military. It began in Hindu neighbourhoods and villages, first at Jagannath Hall, which was a Hindu dormitory in Dhaka University, where 5,000 to 10,000 people were killed on that first night alone. This genocidal campaign continued for 10 months, resulting in 2 to 3 million people killed, hundreds of thousands of women and girls raped and more than 10 million forced to flee their homes.
US Senator Ted Kennedy went to visit the Bangladeshi refugees at that time and said, ‘nothing is more clear or more easily documented than the systematic campaign of terror and its genocidal consequences launched by the Pakistan army on the night of March 25th. Hardest hit have been the members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered and in some place painted with yellow patches marked H.‘
Now, the Islamist, not to be confused with Islam, the Islamist persecution of Hindus and other religious minorities in Bangladesh didn’t end with Bangladesh’s independence. That campaign continues to this day with horrific targeted attacks, murders, homes being burned down and families who continue to be forced to flee. In the early 1900s Hindus made up roughly 33% of the Bangladesh population. Because of this persistent Islamist campaign targeting Hindus, just 8% of Bangladesh’s population are Hindus today.
Just a few days ago in Bangladesh, hundreds of hard-line Islamist extremists attacked Hindu temples, destroyed a train, set fire to government buildings, the press club and public buses, leaving dead and injured behind.”
Tulsi then went on to highlight how all religious minorities are persecuted whenever Islamist jihadists gain in power, something which sections of elites in USA and the West have turned a blind eye to in pursuit of their misguided geopolitical objectives. She also addressed the plight of Hindus and other minorities in Islamic nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and asked world leaders to condemn and commit to defeating the Islamist exclusivist ideology:
“Unfortunately, the Islamist campaign of terror against Hindus, other religious minorities, secularists, atheists and others in Bangladesh is not unique. It’s been going on for centuries. Prior to US regime change wars in Iraq, Lybia and Syria which either toppled or weakened secular authoritarian rulers who protected religious minorities from Islamist jihadists, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq and 2.2 million in Syria. Now there are an estimated 2-300,000 Christians in Iraq and 450,000 in Syria.
Afghanistan was a very multi-religious country which included Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and more prior to the Islamist takeover. Today, it is estimated there are around 1000 Hindus who remain. Religious minorities make up less than 1% of Afghanistan’s population.
Until the leaders of the United States and the world condemn and commit to defeating the Islamist exclusivist ideology, an ideology which holds that all non-Muslims and many so-called, ‘heretical Muslims’, need to be wiped from the face of the earth, enslaved or at the very least kept as second-class citizens without the right to own land, worship openly, etc., like in Pakistan, the jihadist campaign of terror will continue throughout the world.”
Tulsi Gabbard is the first Hindu American to get elected to US Congress (Parliament) in 2012, and served as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district from 2013 to 2021. She is a United States Army Reserve officer who has served her country in Iraq and Kuwait. Her mother Carol is a Hindu, while her father Mike is a Catholic Christian. Tulsi embraced Hindu Dharma as a teen and she follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism. She values the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide and took the oath of office in 2013 using her personal copy.
Tulsi has shown that it is possible to be a measured, compassionate politician without compromising one’s integrity at the altar of secularism or political correctness.
Now, will the leader of the country which is the homeland of Hindus all over the world speak up in similar fashion?