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Hate crime against Hindus: Statement on the robbery and death of Dr. Ravi Maharaj

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Hindu Holy Man makes purchases at produce market, Debe, Trinidad and Tobago. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ten years ago, millionaire businessman and medical doctor, Ravi Maharaj, 63, was found dead at his San Fernando home in Trinidad and Tobago, on 11 January 2006.

In a press statement released yesterday, Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, Founder/Director of the Saraswati Mandiram in the USA and First Hindu Chaplain at Boston University, passed the following statement concerning the murder trial of Dr Ravi Maharaj and hate crimes against Hindus.

It was recently reported in a daily newspaper (Newsday June 3, 2016) that two men (Roger Greene and Brian Worrel) allegedly robbed and murdered Dr Ravi Maharaj in Trinidad and Tobago.

Greene was motivated by the belief that Maharaj was a Hindu worshipper and “God don’t like that.” Greene ‘chooked’ the Hindu with an ice pick and destroyed his murtis [sacred statues].

Jones (State attorney) asked Worrel what he had asked Greene, and he (Worrel) replied, “I said, like the job you went on, the man dead? Like you kill the man.” Worrel told the judge and jury from the witness box, that Greene told him the man (Dr. Maharaj) was an idol worshipper, a Hare Krishna worshipper and that he didn’t serve God.

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“Roger said the man (Dr. Maharaj) was a Hare Krishna worshipper and he mashed down statues and idols. God does not like those things. Roger took out TT$500. and said he will bless me with another TT$500. He said the man does worship idols and the man don’t want to show him where the safe was. He then told me, ‘I take an ice pick and chook up he feet’,” Worrel said from the witness box.

See details of the testimony hereAccused said victim was an idol worshipper

When the victim is a member of the peaceful and tolerant Hindu community, and when the gruesome act is fuelled with hate speech, and when the accused relishes the fact that the victim is an “idol worshipper,” and when the accused uses God as a motivation for such action, there must not be only a cause for concern, but a call for action.

In many countries there are laws against such hate crimes. In some countries such crimes are viewed so seriously that they are punishable by death.

Hate crimes have been committed on the Temple-in-the-sea in Waterloo, as well as on murtis [sacred statues] and jhandis[sacred flags] in many parts of the country.

Where will this trend take us? Today, we live in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious society in Trinidad and Tobago. People of different faiths live in one neighbourhood.

We condemn this barbaric act and hate speech against Dr. Ravi Maharaj. May his soul rest in peace.

Let us use his passing to educate our spiritual leaders and their congregations about the brotherhood of man, love for God and his creation, and peace on earth through respect, tolerance and coexistence.

Just as how we are now displaying that we have a passion for changing the laws relating to the legal age of marriage, we should engender the same passion for creating laws against hate speech and hate crimes.

-Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, Ph.D.

Founder/Director of the Saraswati Mandiram in the USA

First Hindu Chaplain at Boston University

Adjunct Professor in the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth

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Research Says, Hindu Kids are More Likely to Believe that Hinduism Equals to Being Indian

The findings, published in the journal Child Development, also suggest that Muslim children feel no less Indian because of their faith

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If Muslim children were to equate being Indian with being Hindu, they could very well feel conflicted about being Indian or being Muslim. Pixabay

When it comes to the question of who is a true Indian, the country’s Hindu children are more likely than their Muslim peers to connect their faith to their national identity, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Our results indicate that by age 9, Hindu children have already internalised an ‘Indian equals Hindu’ association, and we show that this association predicts children’s support for policies that favor Hindus over Muslims,” said study senior author Mahesh Srinivasan, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley.

The findings, published in the journal Child Development, also suggest that Muslim children feel no less Indian because of their faith, indicating they are shielded from religious nationalist messaging and able to identify both as Indian and as Muslim, added Srinivasan.

“If Muslim children were to equate being Indian with being Hindu, they could very well feel conflicted about being Indian or being Muslim. We know from other research that disconnection from one’s own national, ethnic, or religious group is bad for mental health and other life outcomes,” he said.

Through surveys and social psychology measures, the researchers examined the explicit and implicit associations and attitudes of 160 schoolchildren aged between 9 and 16 in Vadodara, Gujarat.

All the children attended Zenith, a charitable school for low-income children in Vadodara.

The children, 79 of whom were Hindu and 81 of whom were Muslim, were each given an implicit association test, which asked them to swiftly pair together words and pictures.

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When it comes to the question of who is a true Indian, the country’s Hindu children are more likely than their Muslim peers to connect their faith to their national identity, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley. Pixabay

The results showed that Hindu children more readily paired images associated with India with the word “Hindu” and images associated with foreign countries with “Muslim,” suggesting that they think of India as primarily a Hindu nation.

By contrast, Muslim children were just as fast at pairing Indian images with the words “Hindu” or “Muslim.”

ALSO READ: India Plans to Open 100 New Airports by 2024

India is home to about 900 million Hindus and 200 million Muslims, as well as Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews and offshoots of these groups. (IANS)