HomeIndian AmericanIndian Americans, Hindus, and Muslims clash over Times Square ads

Indian Americans, Hindus, and Muslims clash over Times Square ads

Protests between Indian Americans, Hindus and Muslims broke out in Times Square over a controversial ad, CNN reports. 

The ad celebrates the groundbreaking of a Hindu temple that’s been the site of controversy for centuries in the northern Indian city Adhoya, Time Magazine reports. It also features images of the Hindu deity Ram.  

Citing the ads as a “display of Hindu fascism,” anti-Hindu nationalism groups and Muslim advocates rallied and even sent letters to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, according to Slate

Their efforts were partly successful as one of the three companies that were planning to run the ad, Branded Cities, decided to drop it, Slate reports. But there has been no change in the plans of the remaining companies, Disney and Clear Channel Outdoor. 

According to CNN, the conflict dates back to the 16th century, when the Muslim Mughal Empire set Adhoya as the location of the Babri Masjid mosque. 

The details are fuzzy: Hindus claim the mosque was built over a temple marking the birthplace of the deity Ram, and violence over the site has occurred frequently over the years, Time Magazine reports. 

The violence came to a head in the 1990s, when the Indian right-wing party, Bharatiya Janata backed the claim and Hindus rallied to destroy the mosque in 1992, CNN reports. 

The destruction of Babri Masjid led to the “deadliest sectarian violence to seize India since independence” as more than 2,000 lives were lost, according to CNN. 

Today, India is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, member of the Bharatiya Janata party. Modi attended the groundbreaking ceremony to coincide with the ads, Time Magazine reports, despite protests from Muslim advocates and politicans. 

According to Time Magazine, Asaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim member of Parliament said in a tweet: “Attending [the ceremony’ in official capacity will be a violation of [Prime Minister Modi’s] constitutional oath. Secularism is part of the Basic Structure of Constitution.” 

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