Mar 28, 2003

this is just the kind of thing that gets on my nerves. first, who made these folks the spokespeople for all of us, and second, why isn't there a different perspective added to the mix... something that goes beyond the old "it's not us, it's them" thing that has been going on for too long...

Boro Hindus promote faith to fight prejudicial attacks
from the Times Ledger... By Alex Ginsberg 03/27/2003

In the terror and chaos that followed Sept. 11, Hindus were often the target of misdirected bias attacks by assailants who did not know the difference between Hindus and Muslims. Now, even as the United States enters the second week of a war that may prove more difficult than was originally thought, Hindus in Queens say they’re confident that they won’t be targets again.

“I don’t think that is any fear,” said Uma Mysorekar, president of Flushing’s Hindu Temple Society of North America. “Perhaps during the Afghan war, because there was so much lack of understanding. At the moment, most people are pretty much familiar [with Hindus].”

Rajendra Sharma, the head priest at the Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir temple in Hollis, said he was the victim of misdirected bias attacks several times following Sept. 11. On one occasion, in December 2001, he was pushed by several people who told him “go back to your country.” “We look similar to Muslims,” he said. “People think we are Muslims. Hindus are very peaceful, very loving. We don’t like terrorism. We always try to help people, to love people.” Sharma does his part to foster better understanding by preaching every Saturday morning in services that are open to all. “I always try to tell everything scientifically what are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and so on,” he said.

He added that his audience often draws non-Hindus, including Muslims and Sikhs. Like Mysorekar, he said he was not worried about an increase in bias incidents due to the war. “I’m not worried because I trust this country,” he said. “And I trust this country’s security.”

Both Sharma and Mysorekar said no special security precautions were being taken at their temples. But Mysorekar said the mood could turn ugly if the war goes badly for the United States.

“As soon as a few POWs were taken, everyone’s heart began to sink,” she said. “It was horrible to see, and it gives you a sense of anger. It might precipitate some of those bias attacks, but if the war goes as expected, and the U.S. wins, it is a great victory for President Bush and the entire world.”

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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