Foundation For Pluralism

The Foundation For Pluralism was started in 1993 by Mike Ghouse, a prominent Indian Muslim activist and motivational speaker in Dallas.[1] Ghouse is also the President of the Foundation, whose overall objective is “promoting [a] culture of religious, political and social pluralism.”[2]  In this endeavor, Ghouse works with all major and minor religions/religious groups to create a sense of harmony and acceptance amongst them. He maintains four websites and 27 blogs and has published numerous articles on various issues from a moderate Muslim’s perspective, in order to remove popular misperceptions about Islam and the Muslim community.[3] So, he is a popular writer and speaker and his views, messages and arguments find a wide, mainstream audience.

Ghouse and the Foundation’s work can be held in high regard on inter-faith matters. However, their exaggerated views on the Gujarat riots as well as lack of strong advocacy for Hindu genocides/massacres are highly disturbing. While he has strong views on Gujarat riots, the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots and things like the Jewish Holocaust, Ghouse is comparatively silent on the massacres of Hindus in Pakistan during Partition, massacres of Hindus in Bangladesh, the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits, etc. It is unfortunate that such individuals, who may mean well for the world, are often stuck in such prejudiced views or are fed misinformation. Similarly, it is puzzling that Ghouse and the Foundation, who claim to stand for pluralism, associate with the CAG, whose members are known to have deep-seated hatred for Hindus and Hinduism, as shown throughout this website.

Ghouse’s and the Foundation’s exaggerated views on the Gujarat riots are illustrated below.

On October 22, 2007, Ghouse wrote an article on his blog on “Gujarat Massacre & Justice”. Resorting to hyperbole typical of many members of CAG, Mr. Ghouse declared:

Immediately following the Godhra incident, the State of Gujarat witnessed the ugliest of all genocides in human history [emphasis added] butchering and burning pregnant women and children by the extremists killing nearly 1,500 people and leaving thousands homeless.[4]

While the Gujarat riots were certainly ugly and painful for both the Muslim and Hindu communities, deeming them as the ugliest of all genocides clearly misleads his readers and the general public. Ghouse conveniently forgets the list of genocides that his Foundation’s “Holocaust & Genocides” initiative created in 2009.[5] He lists individuals and groups like Mao (78 million killed), Jozef Stalin (23 million killed), Adolf Hitler (12 million), Pol Pot (1.7 million) and many others.[6] Any individual who has read about the genocides of the world will clearly see Ghouse’s bias when he compares Gujarat with such exterminations.

In the same article, Ghouse compares Hitler and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying “Both of them had an iron-clad grip on some of their people, both of them brought economic prosperity while one was annihilating Jews, the other was tacitly letting Muslims be butchered.”[7] Again, Ghouse’s lack of objectivity is clear – he compares a man who oversaw the killing and cleansing of millions of Jews to a man who has been cleared of allegations of involvement in the Gujarat riots that killed both Muslims and Hindus! In addition, Ghouse ignores facts such as the following given by Ram Jethmalani, as discussed earlier:

Immediately after the Godhra train burning, on the evening of 27 February 2002, the Gujarat Chief Minister summoned an emergency meeting of top-ranking officials of the government, took steps to deploy the Rapid Action Force (RAF), State Reserve Police, [and the] local police at sensitive points. Since the [troops] at Ahmedabad Cantonment had been called at the border in view of the attack on Parliament earlier, the Chief Minister requested the then Defence Minister telephonically (sic) on 28 February 2002 to immediately deploy army battalions to tackle the situation, immediately.[8]

Similarly, Madhu Kishwar, the founder of Manushi, a popular women’s rights magazine who initially derided Modi on the Gujarat riots, provided an analysis on Mr. Modi’s and the Gujarat government’s record during the riots. As already mentioned, she interviewed many prominent Muslims, including Zafar Sareshwala, Najma Heptullah and others to come to her conclusion about Mr. Modi. When Sareshwala asked Mr. Modi whether he considered 60 lakh (6 million) Muslims as part of the 5 crore Gujaratis, he replied:

Of course you are mine. Among the 5 crore Gujaratis you are included. When I bring Narmada water into Sabarmati River, do I stop it flowing through [the] Muslim settlement of Juhapura? Who are the biggest beneficiaries of Sabarmati waters near Nehru Bridge?[9]

Najma Heputallah had this to say about Mr. Modi:

At the height of [the] riots, I got a phone call from the Aga Khan’s office that a colony of Khoja Muslims in the midst of Hindu areas feared attacks. She phoned Advani who was then the Home Minister in Vajpayee’s NDA government. Advani in turn talked to Modi. Within minutes, Modi called me and said: ‘Najma ben [sister Najma], please don’t worry. I will personally oversee this and ensure their safety.’[10]

Such facts and counterpoints on Mr. Modi are ignored by Ghouse and the CAG in their attempts to equate him to Hitler and other mass murderers of the world.

Similarly, in a November 2013 article in The Huffington Post discussing Mr. Modi and the future of India, Ghouse compares the Gujarat riots to the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia.[11] This is yet another exaggerated attempt to equate the deaths and destruction in the Rwanda genocide (where over 500,000 people were killed) to those in Gujarat.

In 2009, protesting Oman’s decision to invite Mr. Modi, Ghouse and organizations of the CAG wrote a strong letter to the Sultan of Oman and the Omani citizens. The letter, among other things, claimed that “Mr. Modi presided over and orchestrated widespread riots [emphasis added] in which about 2,000 hapless Muslims were massacred and more than 200,000 were rendered homeless.”[12] Once again, wild exaggerations are inserted into arguments to force the international community to distance itself from Mr. Modi.  In the earlier instance, Ghouse argued that more than 1,500 people were killed, while in this instance he is arguing that 2,000 Muslims were killed.

Ghouse has provided special coverage to and highlighted the plights of Sikhs in the 1984 riots, deeming the events as genocide. For example, in September 2012, Ghouse and his Foundation’s initiative, “Holocaust & Genocides”, hosted an event titled 6th Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides which focused on “Sikh Massacre of 1984.”[13] However, Ghouse and his Foundation or initiatives have never bothered to organize such a prominent event to highlight the plight of Hindus in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh.

The event also featured a keynote address by Dr. Amarjit Singh[14] of the Khalistan Affairs Center in Washington D.C. According to its website, “[Khalistan Affairs Center] was created…to promote the vision and creation of a sovereign Sikh state.”[15] According to the Center, “Khalistan [a separate country for Sikhs] is the only solution [emphasis added] to curb future atrocities against the Sikhs and to put an end to the current colonial policies instituted by the Indian State in Punjab.”[16] Thus, the Center lobbies support for Khalistan and seeks interventions by Western countries to pressure for a break-up of Punjab and Kashmir. Khalistan Affairs Center also considers India as the “…world’s largest dynastic, dystopian, Neo-Nazi, demoNcracy [the Center’s word for a ‘demonic version’ of democracy].”[17] In November 2009, Khalistan Affairs Center organized a protest along with Ghulam Nabi Fai and the Kashmir American Council during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States, where Amarjit Singh urged President Obama to pressure India to recognize Khalistan. According to Singh, “The only way [freedom for Sikhs] is possible is through the establishment of an independent sovereign nation, Khalistan, which will also act as a buffer state between arch rival nuclear nations India and Pakistan.”[18] However, such Sikh separatists never focus their attention on the atrocities that Sikhs faced in Pakistan and mostly demand the separation of the Indian state of Punjab.

It is unfortunate that Ghouse, who claims to be a patriotic son of India, gives prominence to such individuals who bristle with hatred for India. Moreover, it is truly unfortunate that such individuals hold highly biased opinions that depict “Hindu savagery” and join coalitions containing members who equate Hinduism with fascism, racism, etc. and a religion that should be erased from the world.  Clearly, Ghouse will not sign up for a coalition that demonizes Jews or Muslims, equates Judaism with fascism or supports racism.

 

[1] http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/aboutus.asp. Accessed January 17, 2014

[2] See “About” section on the left at http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/index.asp. Accessed January 17, 2014

[3] Read Ghouse’s bio at http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/MuslimSpeaker.MikeGhouse.asp. Accessed January 17, 2014

[4] Mike Ghouse, “Gujarat Massacre & Justice”, October 22, 2007, Foundation For Pluralism, http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/10/gujarat-massacre-justice.html.

[5] http://holocaustandgenocides.blogspot.com/2009/10/genocides.html. Accessed January 17, 2014

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ram Jethmalani, “Let truth be known about Modi”, The Sunday Guardian, http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/let-truth-be-known-about-modi. Accessed January 16, 2014

[9] Madhu Kishwar, “Modinama 1: Narendra Modi through the Eyes of Gujarati Muslims, Christians and…”, Manushi, http://www.manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1685&ptype=campaigns&pgno=1#.UtmXRrQo7IX.  Accessed January 17, 2014

[10] Kishwar, ibid

[11] Mike Ghouse, “India’s Future, Narendra Modi, Muslims and Moving Forward”, November 4, 2013, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/indias-future-narendra-mo_b_4177079.html.  Accessed January 17, 2014

[12] “Universal Respect for Human Rights without Borders: Petitions the Government of Oman”, September 28, 2009, Sabrang Alternative News Network, http://www.sabrang.com/news/2009/28sept09two.htm.  Accessed January 17, 2014

[13] See “6th Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides”, Tuesday, September 18, 2012, http://holocaustandgenocides.blogspot.com/2012/09/6th-annual-reflections-on-holocaust-and.html. Accessed January 17, 2014

[14]Ibid. See Dr. Amarjit Singh’s name announced as the Key Note speaker on the bottom left side

[15] See “About Us” on the KAC website at http://www.khalistan-affairs.com/wp/?page_id=2. Accessed January 17, 2014

[16] Ibid

[17] “SIKH, KASHMIRI & CHRISTIAN READERS VISITING INDIA BEWARE!”, Khalistan Affairs Council, http://www.khalistan-affairs.com/wp/?p=1026.  Accessed January 17, 2014

[18] “Kashmiris, Sikhs to protest during Singh’s US visit”, November 23, 2009, Khalistan Affairs Council, http://www.khalistan-affairs.com/wp/?p=338. Accessed January 17, 2014