Twenty organisations and several individuals in the United States have collectively written a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, opposing the display of the images of Hindu deity Ram and 3-D portraits of the temple to be constructed in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya at Times Square on August 5, the day of the temple’s foundation-laying ceremony in India.
“We write to bring to your attention an Islamophobic billboard set to be projected in Times Square in order to dehumanize Muslim New Yorkers and celebrate human rights abuses against Muslims in India,” the signatories said in their letter. “Our coalition stands opposed to the far-right Hindutva nationalism of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government in India. We are writing to ask you how New York City, a city that claims to have inclusive and egalitarian values, can allow such a brazen celebration of hatred and Islamophobia.”
The signatories include Hindus for Human Rights and Coalition Against Fascism in India.
The signatories also spoke of the Babri Masjid demolition. “We request that your office take action to prevent an organization called the American Indian Public Affairs Committee from projecting an Islamophobic billboard in Times Square on August 5th, which celebrates the destruction of nearly 425-year-old mosque that led to one of the worst communal violence India witnessed resulting in the death of nearly 3000 people,” they wrote.
The images of Ram temple ground-breaking ceremony from India, the words “Jai Shri Ram” in Hindi and English, portraits of the deity and the proposed temple’s design and architecture will be displayed across several billboards in New York City on August 5.
In India, the groundbreaking ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several prominent BJP leaders.
A landmark Supreme Court verdict in November had paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The court had ruled that the disputed land in Ayodhya would be handed over to a government-run trust for the construction of a Ram temple. The court had also said that the demolition of Babri Masjid was illegal and directed the government to acquire an alternative plot of land to build a mosque.
The Babri Masjid, located in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992, because they believed that it stood on land that was the birthplace of deity Ram.