Atlanta, GA, April 3, 2023: History was made in Georgia as well as in the United States, when a first ever County Resolution condemning Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hate was passed in the Georgia legislature last week. The Resolution was directed by Rep. Lauren McDonald and Rep. Todd Jones from Forsyth County in the suburbs of Atlanta and home to one of the largest Hindu and Indian American diaspora communities in Georgia. The county delegation drew attention to the rising Hinduphobia across the nation and called for an end to such hatred.
Last year, Rutgers University released a groundbreaking report that highlighted the growing bigotry against the Hindu community via social media networks and warned that such online hate can lead to real-life violence, said a press release issued by CoHNA. This report came out less than two months before a spate of anti-Hindu attacks in New York and California in August 2022.
The Atlanta chapter of the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) spearheaded the efforts to get this Resolution passed despite an extremely busy legislative season. This came on the back of the first-ever Hindu Advocacy Day held by CoHNA on March 22nd at the Georgia State Capitol, where around 25 lawmakers – both Republicans and Democrats – joined the Hindu community to understand its concerns, pledge to create ways to protect the community against discrimination and facilitate the inclusion of Hindu voices in important decision-making processes in the state.
Besides CoHNA, local leaders from BAPS, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Umiya Mata Mandir, Shree Shakti Mandir, Sewa International, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), and others participated in the Advocacy Day.
Earlier in the month, Senator Shawn Still who had introduced a resolution underscoring the strong relations between Georgia and India, shared how excited he was to see the growing and vibrant Hindu community and the warm welcome he has felt ever since he was first elected.
Rajeev Menon, Vice-President of CoHNA thanked the lawmakers for this historic Resolution and for showing up in such large numbers despite an extremely busy schedule. “It was a true honor to work with Rep. McDonald and Rep. Jones as well as other lawmakers who guided us through the whole process of getting this County Resolution passed,” he said. “We also heard that all the lawmakers had been working really long hours given the amount of legislative items on the agenda, but still decided to join us at the Advocacy Day to show how much they value the Hindu community,” he said.
The event also featured the Darshana Exhibition organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. The exhibition, which has made its way to several cities and states across the US, showcased the rich cultural and spiritual aspects of the Hindu tradition and promoted cultural ties between communities.
Senator Emmanuel Jones, who attended the event along with other members of the Black Caucus was appreciative of the values he saw reflected in the exhibition.
“The issues faced by Hindu Americans in Georgia and the rest of the country via false, Hinduphobic narratives are negatively impacting a community that has been hardworking, law-abiding and enriching the fabric of America,” added CoHNA General Secretary Shobha Swamy. “We urged for their help in combating such bigotry which advances hatred and creates the idea that Hindus and people of Indian origin need special laws and monitoring due to allegations around some inherent propensity to discriminate.”
Other lawmakers attending the event included Senator Shawn Still, Senator Clint Dixon, Senator Sheikh Rehman, Senator Brandon Beach, and Senator Brian Stricklan. Besides Rep. McDonald and Rep. Jones, the event also saw several other Representatives interact with the community, including Rep. Gabe Okoye, Rep. Carter Barrett, Rep. Brent Cox, Rep. Scott Hilton, Rep. Long Tran, Rep. Sharon Cooper, Rep. Solomon Adesanya, Rep. Matt Reeves, Rep. David Clark.
CoHNA also presented a handout laying out community concerns and key issues to the elected officials.
The Hinduphobia Resolution has been welcomed by lawmakers from various backgrounds along with leaders of the Hindu community locally and around the country. It is a significant boost to the community’s efforts in drawing much needed attention to a growing problem.