A Hindu pujari, Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri, was brutally attacked on Thursday morning in Queens borough of New York city, USA. 52-year old Sergio Gouveia who angrily shouted “this is my neighborhood” during the attack has been arrested for the hate crime.
Swami ji told local news outlet PIX11 that around 11 AM he was walking down the street near the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple in Glen Oaks where he serves, when a man came up from behind and started hitting him, repeatedly. He was beaten so badly, he had to be rushed to the hospital.
Local Hindus who attend the temple believe Swami ji was targeted for being a Hindu priest.
“He’s wearing his religious clothes just walking around the block,” said worshipper Sanjeev Jindal.
“The fact that he was dressed in religious wear definitely made him stick out,” said another worshipper Radha Bakshi.
Swamiji suffered bruises and abrasions all over his body, including his face, and was in pain when the PIX11 crew visited him at the temple on Friday night. But he was still smiling and said he would pray for the man who attacked him.
Many US Congresspersons have strongly condemned the heinous attack on Swami ji.
Hate crimes against Hindus, especially Hindu temples, are quite common across America. Usually the harassment consists of vandalism, hateful graffiti sprayed on walls, desecration, bullying in schools etc, but this brutal physical attack is a worrying escalation.
Fundamentalist Christianity, especially the kind preached by the powerful evangelical groups based in the country’s ‘Bible belt’ (South and Mid-west parts), regards Hindu Dharma as a polytheist, ‘idol-worshipping’, ‘pagan’, satanic cult whose followers are destined to burn in hell for all eternity. Popular culture in America also stereotypes Hindus as exotic, queer, weak and regressive, which subtly normalizes anti-Hindu attitudes.
New York City is considered the most cosmopolitan & diverse city in the world, so such an attack there should set alarm bells ringing for American society & government. Instead of creating bodies like USCIRF to keep watch on open democracies like Bharat & sermonizing Hindus when a few stray accidents occurred in New Delhi churches, the US Government would do well to look inwards and curb the powerful hate-mongering Christian missionary machinery within.
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