Modesto Bee Covers Gandhi Protest

Modesto Bee Covers Gandhi Protest

February 3, 2008 excerpt from a Modesto Bee article:

Appropriately enough, there was a peaceful and polite demonstration by The Organization for Indian Minorities.

About 30 protesters waved signs at passing cars and handed out anti-Gandhi literature to those attending a reception in Arun Gandhi’s honor at the King-Kennedy Center. When they held up signs to the windows outside the reception, Tommie Muhammad, host of the MJC event, asked the protesters to please step back, which they did.

Muhammad said the protesters had a “cultural beef with the Gandhi family” but that wouldn’t detract from the celebration. “The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. took a part of Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy and made it a worldwide event for the betterment of everybody.”

Bhajan Singh, of Manteca, acting as spokesman for the protesters, said Gandhi’s history of bigotry meant that he should never be compared to King. He said the protesters wanted to protect King’s legacy.

Almost all of the protesters were Indians and half identified themselves as Sikhs.

In response, OFMI wrote the following letter to the editor of The Modesto Bee:

Dear Editor,I am writing in response to your story about Arun Gandhi’s appearance at MJC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. As the director of the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) mentioned in the article, I am shocked at your careless coverage of our protest. While you paraphrased me as condemning Mahatma Gandhi’s “history of bigotry,” you neglected to explain why we believe he was a bigot.

As I told your reporter, Gandhi was a bigot because he fought to deny civil rights to African blacks. Considering Dr. King fought and died to give civil rights to American blacksConsidering these diametrically opposed goals, it’s insulting to link Dr. King to Gandhi.

The article also quoted Tommie Muhammad, the event’s host, as accusing us of having a “cultural beef” with Gandhi. This is disingenuous, considering our protest was premised solely on revealing Gandhi’s deeply anti-black writings and activism in South Africa. How is it a “cultural beef” for a diverse group of Indians, including Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, to oppose focusing on the life and philosophy of an indisputable racist (Gandhi) at an event ostensibly intended to honor an American civil rights hero (Dr. King)? Our only concern is to protect Dr. King’s legacy.

We do not have space here to provide facts and references proving Mahatma Gandhi’s racism, so we would refer readers to our website:

Bhajan Singh

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