Displaying Ram Temple Model On Times Square Is An Affront To NYC’s Pluralism
“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Christ was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver; Joseph was sold for 20 shekels. At what price does sanctuary city New York has agreed to display the celebration of violent and unlawful demolition of Babri Masjid and an illegal occupation of Kashmir with giant billboards dedicated to images of Lord Rama, and 3D portraits of the grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya. As per media reports these images will be beamed across at Times Square on August 5 from 8AM to 10PM?
This event comes 28 years after Hindu extremists and followers of RSS demolished Babri Masjid, a 500-year-old mosque which stood in the site where the Ram Temple will now be built. The date August 5 is a deliberate choice. On August 5, 2019 Indian government without due process revoked the Article 370 of the Constitution that gave the Kashmiri people limited autonomy. The Kashmiri people who have been brutalized, killed and maimed in the state sponsored pogroms have faced a state of curfew for a year with no contact with the outside.
If this plan goes ahead the sanctuary city New York, the most diverse city in the world that has shown commitment to stand for democracy and human rights for all, will be hosting Indian fascists celebrating religious intolerance, the inhuman atrocities of caste and race and their blatant disregard for human life. The screens in Times Square are due to show Indian Prime Minister, Modi inaugurate the temple construction. It is worthwhile to remember that Modi was banned from entering the U.S. for nearly a decade due to the allegations that he, as the Chief Minister of Indian state Gujarat, had tacitly supported Hindu extremists who in 2002 killed thousands of Muslims.
The slogan Jai Shiri Ram which has been a rallying cry for lynching of Christians, Muslims and Dalits will echo through the iconic square in America’s most diverse city.
After 9/11 the republican Mayor of New York refused a 10 million dollars donation from a Saudi Prince. He considered it as blood money and New Yorkers cheered him.
Now under the guardianship of a democratic Mayor, the people of this proud city need to know the price at which New York City’s honor and soul is being sold.
Update: Clarion India reports that a coalition of Muslim groups has claimed that Branded Cities, which manages the digital billboards at Times Square, will not run images of Lord Ram and 3D portraits of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Dr Zoovia Hamiduddin is a physician and author based in New Rochelle, New York.