Washington DC: On Tuesday, US-based advocacy group Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) issued an open letter, strongly condemning the continuous attacks on the organization and its coalition partners by the Islamophobic Middle East Forum (MEF) and its Hindutva allies.
The latest letter comes on the heels of a defamatory article written by Benjamin Baird of MEF and published by The Sunday Guardian – a right-wing Indian publication founded by Bharatiya Janata Party leader MJ Akbar. The article peddles fallacies as fact and lies as truth in an attempt to discredit IAMC’s work on safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos.
The MEF article makes many baseless allegations against IAMC, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, prominent activist Harsh Mander, Ladeeda Farzana, and Aysha Renna.
“The pathetic attacks published in a barely known online publication are laughable for their sheer absurdity. However, they also demonstrate the desperation of Hindu nationalist front organizations in the US to besmirch IAMC, even at the expense of collaborating with racist and xenophobic organizations like MEF that have zero credibility,” said Mr. Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC.
MEF, which is run by the infamous anti-Muslim provocateur Daniel Pipes has been called out by hugely respected US non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as having “spent the better part of three decades vilifying Muslims.”
MEF is not only notorious for its Islamophobic views but has also inspired terror attacks in the past. The MEF and Pipes were cited sixteen times in far-right mass murderer Norwegian Anders Breivik’s manifesto, detailing his motivations for his July 2011 attack that resulted in the killing of 77 people.
Besides inspiring a mass murderer, MEF has long been touted as one of the worst xenophobic and racist organizations that revel in peddling hate and disinformation. It is also embroiled in multiple sexual assaults, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination lawsuits by several of its female employees.
According to the letter, MEF is targeting IAMC on behalf of its Hindutva allies, including the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), an advocacy group that lobbies to deflect scrutiny of the rapidly deteriorating situation in India with respect to human rights and religious freedom.
“IAMC is working with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN Special Rapporteur to bring international attention to the plight of Muslims and Dalits in India,” the letter mentions as the reason for Hindu nationalist front organizations in the US attacking IAMC.
These Hindutva front organizations have now extended their dragnet to target anyone working with IAMC, including credible Hindu organizations such as Hindus For Human Rights,” says a statement issued by IAMC that references the letter.
In December last year, MEF’s Sam Westrop, another known Islamophobe, wrote an article in Newsweek accusing IAMC of being an “anti-Hindu Islamist group with alleged ties to SIMI, a banned terrorist organization in India.” Notably, after IAMC tweeted its second letter to Newsweek expressing displeasure with the Westrop canard, the editor-at-large of Newsweek, Naveed Jamali, wrote on Twitter that “people like Sam Westrop or the Middle Eastern Forum shouldn’t be given a platform,” while citing the history of their Islamophobia and misinformation.
He, however, later deleted the tweets, possibly due to pressure from within the news organization.
IAMC President Mr. Ahsan Khan termed the continuous attacks by Hindu nationalist front organizations as a larger part of the “smear campaign” to spread vile and dangerous propaganda against Muslim organizations in America.
“Them going to this extent to attack IAMC actually energizes us even more, as it implies that our advocacy is hurting their efforts at ‘contextualizing’ the persecution of minorities in India and at mainstreaming Islamophobia in the US,” Mr. Khan said.
“We urge everyone interested in the details of the absurd attack on IAMC to read the open letter to Sunday Guardian Live. They provide a window into the minds of bigoted individuals who are behind the attacks and for whom facts do not matter,” he added.
Read the full letter here.