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Facebook post mocking Islamic holy site sparks violence in Bangladesh

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — A Facebook post mocking one of Islam’s holiest sites appeared to spark a string of violent attacks and lootings that left more than 100 people hurt in Eastern Bangladesh Sunday.

The post made on the social media website showed the Hindu deity over a picture of the Kaaba, a large building in Mecca. Some of the rioters attempted to apprehend the 27-year-old man they suspected of posting the photo, however, police are yet to determine who made the posting.

After nearly two hours of violence in the eastern town of Nasirnagar, at least 100 homes and five Hindu temples were looted. At least 150 men were injured, according to reports. Police have made nine arrests in the incident, including a 30-year-old Hindu man who authorities plan on charging with “breaching internet laws.”

While religious violence is rare in the Muslim majority nation, unrest has increased, stemming from an uptick in Islamist activity in the South Asian country. Atheists, secular bloggers and foreigners have all been the targets of recent attacks.

“We are tired of such repeated incidents. It is very unfortunate that none of the culprits of previous attacks are brought to justice,” Hindu leader Rana Dasgupta said.

Monday, the Hindu American Foundation issued a statement on the riots, citing Bangladesh police authorities named several Islamist groups operating in Bangladesh as the main culprits for instigating the violence.

“HAF is shocked and disappointed by the news of the riots in Bangladesh, especially occurring on the auspicious day of Diwali for Hindus around the world,” said Jay Kansara, HAF Director of Government Relations.

“Religious violence in Bangladesh seemed to have recently subsided due to the efforts of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government in cracking down on terrorists and extremists in the aftermath of the Dhaka cafe attack. However, it is now apparent that the government must renew its vigilance and should direct its current investigation towards apprehending the perpetrators of such mass rioting, instead of focusing on the individual who created the Facebook post.”

As recently as this past July, radical Islamists attacked a restaurant popular with expats, killing 20 hostages, 18 of whom were foreigners.

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Indian Americans’ complex relationship with politics in Trump America

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Rep. Gabbard presents a copy of the Bhagvad Gita to Indian Prime Minister Modi (2014)

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — Indian Americans constitute a tiny 1.5 percent of the U.S. population. The presence of Donald Trump, over 60 prominent lawmakers, and leaders of the corporate world, at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event speaks to the many economic successes of this community in addition to the trade ties between the two countries.

Indian Americans are not just a rapidly rising population in the U.S.—from close to 2 million in 2010, to about 4 million in 2015— but are also the highest earning ethnic group in the US. 

At a median age of 34 years, 70 percent Indian Americans are foreign born. For them, forming allegiances with a political party in Trump America, can be daunting.

Howdy, Democrats: Indian Americans need to know

Two Democratic leaders not attending the event have become symbolic of the way some Indian Americans are conflicted in forming a clear political identity: Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard.

Democratic Congressman from California, Ro Khanna, recently tweeted that, “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians.” This was opposed immediately by those who thought that this was guilt shaming Hindu Americans.

While Hinduism is a religion based on myriad traditions and philosophies, Hindutva is a political ideology primarily based on a pluralistic Hindu identity. In an exclusive interview to Diya TV, he defended his stand saying, “We got a standing ovation when we said that in the district.”

He had previously joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and was urged by 230 Indian American organizations in the United States to withdraw from the caucus. Caucuses in the U.S. political system make decisions based on shared viewpoints to influence state legislatures.

Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, made history by becoming the first Hindu to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. An Army veteran she was deployed as a medical administrator in Iraq. She kept her childhood copy of Bhagwad Gita for comfort during those days and gifted that copy to PM Modi on her first visit to India in 2014. However, she would be unable to share stage with PM Modi due to “prior engagements.”  Or perhaps Trump’s presence had something to do with her absence? She sent in a video with greetings and apologies to PM Modi for not being able to make it.

There was another stage Gabbard missed addressing in Houston last week: the presidential primary debate. She is one of the lower-polling Democratic presidential contenders and was passed up by the Democratic National Committee. Their reason being that she could not make the 2 percent threshold in polls although she had enough donors—very akin to the Indian American diaspora.

Gabbard’s political rise is attributed to funding from many Hindu organizations.

Both, Khanna and Gabbard, are scathing critics of American foreign military adventurism—that’s a viewpoint all Indian Americans could get on board with.

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Rep. Ro Khanna responds to criticism over Hindutva tweet

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Ro Khanna

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Diya TV spoke exclusively with Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna to get his response in the aftermath of a barrage of criticism he’s faced after posting a tweet that appeared to endorse an anti-Hindu activist.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to hold 20 bilateral meetings during his time in the U.S., including with President Trump. His speech at the UN will focus on India’s efforts in development, peace and security, but no further explanation on Kashmir, as it’s deemed an internal matter.

The Biden campaign hired Maju Varghese, a former Obama White House aide, to be its Chief Operating Officer and Senior Advisor.

Nova Southeastern University’s new Tampa Bay Regional Campus is now open, made possible thanks to a $200 million donation by Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel.

And ‘A Little Late with Lilly Singh’ debuted on NBC, with her first guest none then other than Mindy Kaling. Singh, who is Indo-Canadian, becomes the first woman of color ever to host a late night network show.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian American IMPACT Summit showcases new leaders

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Impact Summit

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — A large contingent of politically engaged Indian Americans met at the Indian American Impact Summit in Washington to hear from current leaders and meet some that are on the rise. Diya TV was a proud media partner in the showcase that featured Democratic National Committee CEO Seema Nanda, and a host of local, state and federal candidates.

Prime Minister Modi and President Trump are scheduled to meet twice in the next week, according to Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Shringla, saying the India-US relationship has the potential to become the “defining partnership” this century. Full coverage of the Modi Trump Community Summit in Houston starts Sunday at 10 am Eastern, 7 am Pacific.

Indian American attorney Suraj Patel is launching another run for the 12th Congressional District in New York City, taking on fellow Democrat Carolyn Maloney once again.

Silicon Valley resident Natasha Gupta announced she is running for the California State Assembly in the 25th District. Gupta says she didn’t expect to run for office at this point in her life, but the turning point was the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting, as she was in attendance the day before.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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