Australian Muslims, Indian Christians Denounce Diplomat’s RSS Visit
Over 2300 petition for High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell’s resignation
“O’Farrell’s visit not only attempts to normalize the RSS, it also empowers them to continue with more of the same,” warned the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) in a statement denouncing the Australian High Commissioner’s controversial 15 November visit to the headquarters of India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary.
“O’Farrell’s praise of the RSS directly offends and causes pain to the two billion Muslims around the world, especially Muslim Australians and Muslims living under the RSS’s reign of terror in India and Kashmir,” explained AFIC. “We stand alongside Christian leaders who deplored the meeting and the associated provocative photos in front of images of RSS founding leaders.”
Commenting on the meeting, a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that O’Farrell “meets with a wide variety of social and political groupings as part of his role.” However, John Dayal of All India Christian Council criticized such an explanation. “The Australian ambassador claims he is doing it to understand issues in India,” remarked Dayal. “While a good ambassador keeps his eyes and ears open to understand the country of his posting, will he also, in time, visit the headquarters of Popular Front of India [an Islamist group], the young men and women of the sundry Assamese and North Eastern extremist and secessionist movements, and underground armies?”
Dayal further referenced both RSS’s pogrom against Christians in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008 as well as the 1999 murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons by RSS subsidiary Bajrang Dal.
AC Michael of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights, referring to India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as “RSS’s political wing,” predicted that if BJP “continues to win elections, latest being Bihar, such recognitions by these countries are bound to grow.” Speaking to Muslim Mirror, Michael warned that such visits give “recognition and legitimacy to [RSS’s] hateful ideology.”
Australia-based NGO The Humanism Project raised similar concerns.
“It was a matter of great anguish and disappointment for us… to see the Australian Envoy to India providing legitimacy to RSS, an organization that never made any secret of its love for Hitler,” stated the group in a letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Both its first chief MS Golwalkar and one of the organization’s heroes, VD Savarkar, were admirers of Hitler, mainly for his ‘cultural nationalism’ and his persecution of the Jews. RSS runs quasi-militant outfits that have often been charged with participating in communal riots and running campaigns against the religious minorities in Inida…. We fervently appeal, on behalf of civil society including many secular, liberal, and tolerant citizens of India, who are proud of India’s constitutional values, to the Australian Government to not endorse and give legitimacy to organizations like the RSS.”
O’Farrell’s 15 November visit has also stirred scandal in other quarters. Former Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon denounced it as “deeply shameful,” while over 2300 have signed a petition demanding O’Farrell’s resignation.