UK Hindus rally against French intolerance
Thousands of Hindus from scores of Hindu organisations joined in the protest against the French manufacturer Minelli to express their solidarity against religious intolerance in France. The rally was organised by the Hindu Human Rights Group outside the French Embassy in London on June 12, 2005. The colourful protest attended by several prominent Hindu leaders featured banners on Lord Rama, slogans against Minelli and the French government, chanting of hymns and devotional songs to the accompaniment of Indian drums and cymbals, speeches by Hindu leaders and signing of petitions amongst other things.
Expressing her gratitude to the thousands of individuals and numerous organisations who participated and supported the peaceful protest permeated by passionate cries of Jai Shri Ram (Victory to Lord Rama), Sheila Maharaja, spokesperson for the Hindu Human Rights Group, said, ?Bathed in the afternoon sun, Hindus from all walks of life joined us in a growing Hindu awakening to make it known that we will no longer stand for the defamation of our sacred Lord Rama and the persecution of Hindus anywhere in the world.?
Speaking about Minelli'sapparent offer to withdraw the infamous shoes from sale, she added, ?Minelli have yet to respond to our reply, let alone offer a full apology. We will not stop this campaign until they have made it clear that they recognise the offence that they have caused, acknowledge their responsibility in a public apology and outline how they intend to move forward from here. There are also the wider issues surrounding this campaign about the treatment of Hindus in France itself. The French government has yet to respond and clarify how they intend to address this. The protest will continue.?
?We are very grateful to Hindu Human Rights Group for bringing this issue to the attention of Hindus all over the world,? commented Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general, Hindu Forum of Britain. ?The rally was a huge success and demonstrated the genuine concern of Hindus in Britain and elsewhere about the misuse and abuse of Hindu icons as well as the growing intolerance in France. This is the main reason the Hindu Forum of Britain has urged all Hindus to boycott French goods and stop flying Air France.?
The Hindu Forum of Britain has urged Hindus all over the world to write to the International Olympic Association to express their disgust and opposition to the short-listing of Paris as a possible venue for the 2012 Olympics. ?We are continuing to request outraged Hindus to immediately write to the chairman of the International Olympic Committee, Rogge, and express their opposition to the holding of Olympics 2012 in France. After all, this is the country that gave the world the three words?liberty, equality and fraternity? and yet they do not wish to give liberty to minority faith traditions, do not wish to give us the same treatment given to the Catholic Church in strict violation of all accepted laws of equality, and refuse to extend a hand of friendship and fraternity to us.?
Hindu temples in France are not recognised as ?established churches and are therefore not given the same tax rebates that are available to Catholic churches, some Protestant churches and a few synagogues and mosques. ?We condone the fact that a religion that pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years has not been recognised as an accepted faith tradition by the French government,? explained Dr Girdhari Bhan, president, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, UK. ?It goes against all accepted norms of human rights in the democratic world,? he added.
Organisations that supported the rally included the Hindu Forum of Britain, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, UK, the Hindu Council of Brent, the Hindu Council of Birmingham, the Hindu Council of Harrow, the Hindu Council of the North, Leicester Festival Hindu Council, the Hindu Council, UK, the Shri Kutch Leva Patel Community, UK, the Federation of Brahmin Associations, the Prajapati Association, UK, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organisation and scores of others.
(You can contact Sanjay Mistry on 07810 368 772 or Ramesh Kallidai on 07915 383 103 or 07867 837 241)