The Asian American Hotel Owner Association (AAHOA), despite strong protests from several civil rights organizations and the Coalition Against Genocide is determined to honor Narendra Modi at their annual convention in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (March 22-24, 2005). Narendra Modi was indicted by many international humanitarian organizations for perpetrating a pogrom of mass murder, rape and arson against religious minorities in Gujarat in 2002 while he was the Chief Minister of that state in India. Even Indiaís Supreme Court acknowledged his complicity in the pogrom against minorities.
It is a shame that an American business organization, motivated by ethnic loyalty and greed has decided to overlook heinous crimes against humanity to honor him in exchange for investment opportunities in India. It is particularly hard to imagine such callous institutions in our midst even as we lecture the world on freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The AAHOA is sending a signal that while the Bush administration is determined to spread democracy they are determined to do business with mass murderers who have absolutely no regard for human life or rule of law.
Fortunately there are many concerned citizens in this country who have raised a hue and cry about the Modi affair. At the forefront are the Indian Muslim Council [www.imc-usa.org] and the Coalition against Genocide [http://coalitionagainstgenocide.org]. These groups, along with several secular Hindu organizations, have not only raised awareness of this alliance between Indian fascism and American business, but have succeeded in delegitimzing the event to some extent. One outcome of their activism has been the withdrawal of Chris Mathews, the host of hardball on MSNBC, from the eventís program. We hope that other sponsors of this celebration of evil will also wake up and withdraw their support.
The organizers continue to show a ruthless face. They are determined to honor Modi no matter what his crimes. In response to the growing criticism of this shameful act, Danny Patel the treasurer of AAHOA said to an Indian newspaper: “We have invited Modi to our annual convention at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from March 24 to 26. And we will honor it. There is no question of canceling it now! We want to hear him on investment opportunities in the state. After all, 95 per cent of AAHOA members are of Gujarati origin.”
Their motivation, even in the light of the fact that Modi allowed the systematic, rape, arson, murder and pillage of Muslims in 2002 in his state, the state of Gujarat, is greed and ethnic solidarity. Apparently as far as the members of AAHOA are concerned, Modi is a fellow Gujarati, and he is the leader of the State many of them come from. But above all he is seen as a great friend of foreign investment and these American businessmen are happy to overlook a genocide or two as long as they can invest overseas and increase their profits.
This must come as a shock to those Americans who believe that their country stands for freedom and is at war against terrorism, oppression and tyranny. But those of us who have long memories [or knowledge of history] are not surprised that once again American business is hand-in glove with those directly or indirectly guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
In 1998, the Justice Department declassified information that exposed the complicity of many American corporations in the Nazi Holocaust. Many of them like IBM cooperated with the Nazis while others profited from slave labor in Nazi Germany. The outcry and the billions of dollars worth of settlements have not yet receded from our memory and once again we witness American businesses–The Asian American Hotel Association–eager to honor and work with the new Hitler from India.
Modi is known for his admiration of Hitler and the Nazi regime. Textbooks in the State of Gujarat of which he is the Chief Minister, present a very uncritical picture of Nazi fascism and even applaud its economic efficiency. It does not come as a surprise that AAHOA, many of whose members come from Gujarat, should overlook crimes against humanity to pay homage to economic efficiency. Gujarat is one of Indiaís economic powerhouses, and also a state ruled by Hindu nationalists who periodically unleash violence against their Muslim and Christian minorities.
One of the most outstanding films of this year was Hotel Rwanda. It gives a glimpse of the horrors of genocide in Rwanda and also reminds us that we did nothing while that happened. If Americans continue to patronize mass murderers like Narendra Modi from India, it is just a matter of time when we will be watching Hotel Gujarat.
Hotel Gujarat, a film about genocide in India, will open perhaps with a shot of Narendra Modi being honored by the Asian American Hotel Owners association.
Dr. MUQTEDAR KHAN teaches at Adrian College and is a Nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution [www.glocaleye.org].