Hindu temples across US are often targets of vandalism

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Vandalism at the Swaminarayan Temple in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Swaminarayan Temple in Louisville, Kentucky is not the first Hindu temple to be vandalized and desecrated in the recent past, and going by the growing religious intolerance in the US, not likely to be the last either.

The Courier Journal reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not begin tracking hate crimes against Hindu, Sikh and Arab-Americans until 2015. There were five Hindu victims of hate crimes in 2015, and 15 Hindu victims in 2017, according to the FBI.

Overall, 2017 saw 1,749 victims of religious-based hate crimes, according to FBI figures. Approximately 58 percent of those victims were Jewish.

Recent examples include incidents in 2015 when Hindu temples in Washington and Texas were vandalized. Later that same year, 40 Hindu flags were burned at a home in Queens, New York.

Mat McDermott, the Hindu American Foundations’ director of communications, told the Courier Journal many hate crimes against Hindus tend to reflect more of a “generalized anti-immigrant bias” rather than a specific hatred against Hinduism.

This decade itself, in October, 2012, the Times Union reported vandals broke into the Schenectady Hindu Temple in New York, and caused about $7,000 in damage to the Pleasant Street facility. It was the third time the temple was vandalized in seven months.

Ketchup and barbecue sauce had been spread on the walls and windows, and on an expensive electronic mixing board. Windows were shattered and flour and rice blanketed the floor. Church leaders and worshippers helped clean up the mess.

Earlier that year, a Hindu temple was vandalized with hate speech in Washington state. Miscreants sprayed swastika and painted “Get Out” on one of the walls of the temple in the Seattle Metropolitan area. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in the entire North West.

IANS reported earlier in the year, a murti of Shiva at the Vishwa Bhavan Hindu Mandir in Georgia state was desecrated with black paint. The phone lines of the temple in Monroe, were cut and graffiti with hate messages were written on it. Between July and October in Loudon County in Virginia, police documented 17 separate incidents of anti-Hindu vandalism.

Also, in 2015, a sign board for a planned Hindu temple in North Carolina had over 60 holes in the sign board.

WPTV reported that in October, 2017, a local Hindu temple under construction in West Palm Beach in Florida was hit by vandals several times, spray painted anti-Semitic slurs, breaking windows and trashing the inside.

The Hour reported in September, 2017, a Hindu temple, in Wilton, Connecticut was vandalized yet again. It was the third time that the temple has been targeted in the past six months. In previous incidents, which were not reported to the police, the temple’s garage was tampered with and a door was stolen off the premises.

 

Police said some residents of the south end of Wilton awoke that same morning to find white supremacist flyers in their driveways, located along Old Belden Hill about two miles from the temple.

Police said there were at least five households spammed with the hate literature sporting #MAGA, #AntiSharia, #WHITELIVESMATTER and more.

The flyers read, “A new phoenix of patriots are coming out of the shadows. We are the defenders of the Constitution. We must not remain silent. Our voices will be heard everywhere. We are legion. Expect us!!!”

The Hour reported it was the second time that year that white supremacy flyers were found in driveways in Wilton and surrounding towns. In February, similar flyers were scattered along the Newtown Turnpike area spanning Wilton, Weston, Westport and Norwalk.

 

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