A fundraising event featuring Hindutva figure Sadhvi Rithambara will no longer be held at the Old Paramus Reformed Church in United States’ New Jersey on Saturday, following an outcry and calls by Indian American groups to cancel the event.
The Rev. Robert Miller said late Friday that he revoked approval to use of the church building after hearing from both opponents and event organizers.
The church was not aware of the speaker’s background when the reservation was made, Miller said.
Rithambara, known to followers as Didi Maa, has incited hate against religious minorities in India, especially Muslims.
The Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights and other groups had called for the event to be canceled and organized a letter-writing campaign to the church via an online action alert titled “Reject hate, say no to Hindu Nationalism in New Jersey.”
“We commend the church officials for taking the right decision by not allowing its space to be used to platform an extremist leader who is well known for anti-Christian and anti-Muslim hate and bigotry in India,” said Shaheen Khateeb, one of the founding members of Indian American Muslim Council.
The Muslim body further said it is calling off its protest against the event in New Jersey featuring Sadhvi Ritambhara after the venue owners revoked permission given to the organizers.
“On Friday, members of the IAMC New Jersey chapter held a meeting with church officials to educate them about the speaker’s background and her role in inciting violence against religious minorities and whipping up the communal frenzy in India. Later IAMC, the CAIRNJ, American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), and Hindus for Human Rights sent a joint letter to Ridgewood Mayor, Council members, and church officials urging the cancellation of the event.”
“Thanks to the efforts of Indian American Muslim Council and Hindus for Human Rights supporters, and others, who tweeted, called and wrote over 800 letters, the Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ has CANCELED the event with Hindu extremist Sadhvi Rithambara! Our fight against hate continues,” read a tweet by Hindus for Human Rights.
“Hindu extremist leaders like Ritambhara threaten peace in our communities. NJ should never provide space to people who peddle the hateful ideology of Hindutva that is completely antithetical to the democratic values of the US,” said Mohammed Jawad, IAMC New Jersey chapter President.
Miller said the church got a flood of messages opposing Rithambara’s appearance, including more than 1,000 emails from around the country since Thursday and at least 100 phone calls on Friday, North Jersey reported.