Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee

23Jul/11

Petition: Stop Religious Bigotry in the Harvard Community!

In an op-ed appearing in the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis, Subramanian Swamy, an Indian politician who teaches economics at Harvard Summer School, used the recent bombings in Mumbai as an excuse to issue a truly frightening vision of Hindu supremacy in India, while vilifying the country's entire Muslim population. For Swamy, this is one in a long line of inflammatory interventions in Indian politics, and it likely won't be the last. But it can and should represent the end of Swamy's ability to draw legitimacy and prestige from his position at Harvard, and to take his bigoted and dangerous worldview into Harvard's classrooms. We ask that you join us in taking action.

Sign the petition!

Demand that Harvard end its association with religious extremist Subramanian Swamy.

We the undersigned members of the Harvard community are outraged to learn that Subramanian Swamy, an Indian politician whose recent editorial shows him to be a bigoted promoter of communalism in India, also teaches economics at Harvard University Summer School. We demand that the Harvard administration repudiate Swamy's remarks and terminate his association with the University.

Swamy proposes a truly shocking set of "strategies" for "deter[ring] terrorism" in an op-ed appearing in the July 16th edition of the Daily News & Analysis, an Indian newspaper. These include "declar[ing] India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus"; "[r]emov[ing] the masjid in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 masjids at other temple sites"; "[e]nact[ing] a national law prohibiting conversion from Hinduism to any other religion"; and "[p]ropagat[ing] the development of a Hindu mindset."

Writing in the wake of the July 13, 2011, bombings in Mumbai, Swamy has exploited this event not only to promote a vision of Indian society based on Hindu supremacy, but to disparage and cast suspicion on the entire Muslim community in India. "Muslims of India," he states, "are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus."

While free expression and the vigorous contest of ideas are essential in any academic community, so, too, are respect and tolerance for human difference. By advocating measures that would grossly violate freedom of religion and the unqualified right to vote for different religious groups, and by aggressively vilifying an entire religious community, Swamy breaches the most basic standards of respect and tolerance.

More specifically, Swamy's comments cast doubt on his ability to treat a diverse community of students with fairness and respect. The highly insulting and stereotypical nature of his comments suggest that he cannot be trusted to regard Muslims -- and no doubt other groups--with anything but a jaundiced eye.

Swamy's views are deeply offensive; they are also dangerous. The measures he proposes--far out of step with the everyday secularism and tolerance embodied by most Indians--would threaten to tear apart the basic fabric of India's pluralist democracy. And, as Indians know too well, the brand of rhetoric that he employs has fueled violence against religious minorities in the past.

In short, we the undersigned condemn Subramanian Swamy and the views that he has expressed in the strongest terms. Someone who voices such ideas while continuing to teach at Harvard seriously compromises the University's integrity, undermining its commitment to diversity and tolerance.

Subramanian Swamy can have no place in the Harvard community.

Sign the petition here.

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