MIT faces backlash over invited speaker’s anti-Muslim comments

Religion News Service | 2/12/2019 | Staff
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (RNS) — Indian-American and Muslim groups are pushing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to revoke a speaking invitation given to a prominent Indian politician over his record of anti-Muslim remarks.

This year’s sold-out MIT India Conference, planned for Saturday (Feb. 16) at the MIT Media Lab, will feature a keynote address from Subramanian Swamy, an economist and member of the Indian Parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Swamy has drawn controversy for his long history of inflammatory statements against Muslims, LGBT people, the mentally ill and members of India’s repressed Dalit caste.

Interviews - Comments - Swamy - Homosexuality - Flaw

In interviews and public comments, Swamy has said that homosexuality is “not normal” and a “genetic flaw” and that bipolar people are violent and unfit to join politics. He has also called Dalit protesters “dogs” and said that hundreds of Indian mosques should be destroyed.

Two weeks ago, nine MIT faculty members launched a petition calling for MIT President Rafael Reif to revoke the university’s invitation.

Commitment - Diversity - Inclusion - Values - MIT

“Commitment to diversity and inclusion are fundamental values of MIT and it’s disheartening to see MIT openly endorsing a person who not only engages in divisive hateful rhetoric but openly calls for violence against marginalized groups,” the petition states. “It’s evident that Swamy’s participation in MIT India Conference is not commensurate with the core values of MIT or with broader humanitarian values of inclusion, diversity, and respect for life.”

The petition, which has gained 1,800 signatures so far, has also been endorsed by Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, the North American Indian Muslim Association, Boston-based Indian media company BDC TV, Muslim Peace Coalition USA, the Indian Minorities Advocacy Network and the Indian American Muslim Council, which led a phone campaign to push MIT to drop Swamy.

Disenfranchisement - Muslims - India - Citizens

“He has openly called for the disenfranchisement of Muslims in India, and said they should be second-class citizens,”...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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