Posted on

6 Mar 2008

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

Womens and Gender Studies at MIT


“The Uses and Misuses of Religion: Lessons from 20 years of Anti-Communal Activism”


Shabnam Hashmi

March 7, 2008



As many of you know, India has been torn with religious strife for the last several decades. religious communities that have had a long history of co-existence have been brought into paths of conflict by sectarian, violent and fundamentalist movements. Hashmi has over the last twenty years established herself has one of the most courageous activists confronting Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Chrisitian communalism. Since the carnage in Gujarat in 2002, where more than 2002 Muslims were massacred by the Hindu right wing (Hindutva) forces, she has worked tirelessly to bring justice tot he victims and re-establish a secular ethos in Gujarat.  Amongst the most important features of Hashmi’s work is her consistent belief in youth led movements. Youth for Peace (Y4P) a ANHAD initiative now has presence in five Indian States.

Hashmi’s visit to the US is an attempt to bring attention to the growing links between fundamentalist forces in India and diasporic organizations. She recently helped with the release of a report — “Unmistakably Sangh: The National Hindu Students Council and Its Hindutva Agenda” which has shown the continuing structural and personnel links between the National Hindu Student Council (HSC) and the Sangh Parivar in the USA and India. The report also argues that most local chapters of the HSC are often unaware of the National HSCs links to the Hindutva movement.  She will also outline how large volumes of money are moved from the US to India to support sectarian politics and is keen to have a in-depth conversation with Indian-American youth on their role in preserving a secular and tolerant India.

Hashmi’s work as a peace activist and her continued battle for justice for victims of religious violence, especially women, makes her an invaluable resource for all of us. We urge you to participate in this one-of a-kind events on campus.