US church cancels event featuring extremist VHP leader Sadhvi Rithambara amid outcry

A coalition of the Indian American community and major multi-religion and civil society organizations is continuously organizing protests against the participation of an Indian extremist Hindutva leader Sadhvi Rithambara at a religious event in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Now the event will no longer be held at the Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood on Saturday, following a public outcry and calls to cancel the event.

The Rev. Robert Miller said late Friday that he revoked approval to use of the church building after hearing from both opponents and event organizers. The church was not aware of the speaker’s background when the reservation was made, Miller said.

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Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sadhvi Rithambara has been invited as a speaker by US-based right-wing groups and individuals to a series of satsangs and discourses (religious gatherings and discourses) across the US, including New Jersey.

Giving the news about the events being called off, the IAMC tweeted, “Pamela Perron, the councilwoman of Ridgewood, just confirmed to IAMC New Jersey chapter that the Old Paramus Reformed Church has canceled the permission given to organize Hindu extremist leader Sadhvi Ritambhara’s event.”

“Thanks to the efforts of Indian American Muslim Council and Hindus for Human Rights supporters, and others, who tweeted, called and wrote over 800 letters, the Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ has CANCELED the event with Hindu extremist Sadhvi Rithambara! Our fight against hate continues,” read a tweet by Hindus for Human Rights.

US church cancels event featuring extremist VHP leader Sadhvi Rithambara

A press release by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) noted that Rithambara’s hate speeches in various Indian states have been described as “the most powerful means to incite anti-Muslim violence”.

It also mentions that in 1992, Ritambhara was one of the eight extremist leaders responsible for inciting the mob to demolish the Babri Masjid.

According to the press release, she was indicted by the Justice Liberhan Commission of Inquiry, appointed by the Government of India, to be among the 68 persons responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The IAMC alleged that in April 1995, Rithambara was arrested for giving a public speech in which she attacked Christians and described Mother Teresa as a “magician”. Her provocative speech sparked Hindu violence against Christians, resulting in the arrest of 169 people on charges of arson.

The protest for the event was started on September 10 at 6 pm. It was held at Old Paramus Reformed Church, 660 East Glen Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ- 07450.

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