I have combined here two interviews of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on this topic, one from Rediff and one from Quartz, both conducted in March, 2016. There’s also some older TV interviews and a Facebook post where she speaks against discrimination of Muslims by people like Trump and others, and support for a House Resolutions opposing bigotry against Muslims. Also here’s a Pakistani American Muslim agreeing with Tulsi’s view on identifying extremism within some sections of the Muslim Community and thanking her for speaking in favor of Muslims who sacrificed their lives for speaking out against extremism.
Rediff: What is your response to social media attacks against you, including by groups alleging that you are Islamophobic? Of fomenting fear or hatred against someone based upon religion?
Tulsi Gabbard: I am a very firm believer in the Aloha spirit — respect and love for everyone, irrespective of their religion, race, gender, or any other external differences.
In my view, the essence of religion means love for God and trying to serve God by working for the well-being of others.
The essence of the Hinduism that I practice is Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, which means to love God and all of His children, regardless of their race, religion, etc, and to use my life working for the well-being of everyone.
I do not see religion as something that involves different teams or an ‘us versus them’ mentality.
Whether we are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, any other faith, or atheists, we are all children of God and we should love and respect each other as brothers and sisters.
Rediff: You have continued to call out President Obama for not identifying ISIS as ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamic terrorists’ and their ideology as ‘Islamism.’
TG: To be successful, the fight against terrorism must be both military and ideological.
Naturally, we will not be able to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organisations militarily or ideologically if we do not understand what their ideology is.
An old military truism is that if you do not know your enemy, you cannot defeat your enemy.
This is why it is critical that we accurately define our enemy and its ideology.
The ideology shared by ISIS, Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations is ‘Islamism.’
Distinct from the religion of Islam, Islamism is a radical political ideology of violent jihad aimed at establishing a totalitarian society governed by laws based on a particular interpretation of Islam.
As one who sees everyone as a child of God, I do not like to see anyone attempt to incite hatred or fear of others because of their religion.
This is one reason why, as we discuss terrorist organisations and refer to those terrorists who are waging war against us, I am careful to use language and terms that clearly distinguish between religion and radical, political ideology.
Let me be clear, the political ideology of Islamism is not the same as Islam, the religion. The vast majority of Muslims who embrace Islam do not adhere to the political ideology of Islamism.
Like Mahatma Gandhi, I believe that we cannot overcome the divisive challenges facing our communities, our countries, and our world if we do not recognise and respect all others as children of God, despite our differences of nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, and so forth.
While religious discrimination sadly exists in democratic countries like the United States, Great Britain, or India, it is not enshrined in the Constitution and law. Therefore, discrimination in these democratic countries is an aberration, not the norm.
Rediff: How important do you believe is the Indo-US Strategic Partnership, particularly since you are close to Prime Minister Modi?
TG: It is very important that the world’s two largest democracies — India and America — have good relations. That is why I was very happy to visit India at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi. I wanted to do whatever I could to strengthen the relationship between our countries.
Working together on everything from fighting terrorism to combating climate change to promoting renewable energy, and much more, India and the US can make the world a better place.
In my attempt to strengthen the relationship between India and America, I have no interest in siding with or favouring one Indian political party over another.
As a member of the US Congress, my interest is in helping cultivate a closer relationship between the US and India, not just between the US and one political party of India.
Both in India and here in the US, I have held meetings with members of both the BJP and the Congress party. I am known in America for being nonpartisan — I successfully work with Democrats and Republicans alike to get things done for the people.
My feeling about politics in India is similarly nonpartisan.
— End of Rediff interview excerpt. Quartz interview follows pictures —
Here’s some pictures of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard with members of India’s Congress party
Quartz: You took on the US president for his reluctance to name ISIS as an Islamic extremist group. Do you still stand by this criticism?
TG: In order to defeat the terrorists who have declared war on the United States and the rest of the world, we need to understand their ideology. In other words, the war can’t be won just militarily. We must defeat them in the ideological war, not just on the battlefield. In order to defeat their ideology, we need to recognize what their ideology is.
The ideology of these terrorists is “Islamism.” It is a radical political ideology of violent jihad aimed at bringing about an establishment of a totalitarian society governed by a particular interpretation of Islam as state law. Referring to terrorists as “Islamist extremists” is simply an accurate way to identify ISIS and other Islamist extremist organizations whose ideology is rooted in one form of Islamism or another.
The majority of Muslims are practicing the spiritual path of Islam within their own lives in a pluralistic, peaceful way. So by calling organizations like ISIS Islamic or Islamist extremists [emphasis hers], we are making a distinction between the vast majority of Muslims who are not extremists and a handful of those who are.
Quartz: You referred to the suffering of Hindu minorities across the world, in a speech you gave during a fundraiser attended by some of the top leaders of the BJP. Do you think that in India there exists a similar situation?
TG: Throughout the world, Hindus are victims of discrimination. Recently, a Hindu priest in Bangladesh was brutally hacked to death by ISIS terrorists and two others were injured trying to help him. Unfortunately, even in the United States, as well as different pockets of India, such discrimination exists.
While there is no doubt there is some discrimination directed toward different “religious minorities” in India, throughout India you will find Muslims, Christians, and people of all kinds of religions free to practice their faith. However, you will not find this degree of tolerance or openness in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or other Muslim countries. In fact, if you are not a member of the government-approved religion in those countries, it is government policy that you will be punished and discriminated against. To my knowledge, this does not exist in India. However, if India were to enact government policies that punish their citizens simply for being of a “minority religion,” I would condemn that action.
The essence of the Hinduism that I practice is karma yoga and bhakti yoga, which means to love God and all [emphasis hers] of His children, regardless of their race, religion, etc., and to use my life working for the well-being of everyone.
— End of Quartz interview excerpt —
Speaking against discrimination
1> Interviews: Two CNN and one Fox Interview where Tulsi Gabbard speaks against discrimination of Muslims by people like Trump.
Rep. Gabbard: This is not a religious war
This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 3, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be…
2>Tulsi Gabbard rejecting Dr. Ben Carson’s statement that no Muslim should be president of the United States of America
Dr. Ben Carson's statement that no Muslim should
Dr. Ben Carson's statement that no Muslim should be president of the United States of America, must be rejected. It…
3> Tulsi condemned violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States by cosponsoring H.Res.569
4> She spoke at the Reason Rally regarding promoting religious freedom and pluralism
1> She’s spoken multiple times including, on the House floor, in favor of vetted refugees from Muslim-majority Iraq and Afganistan.
The sectarian spirit that fuels enmity and violence between members of different religions has been described by the great saint Bhaktivinode Thakur as “the greatest enemy of mankind.”
When a person thinks, I am a Christian, this other person is a Muslim, therefore he is my enemy, or I am a Muslim, this other person is a Hindu, therefore she is my enemy, they reveal their own lack of spiritual depth. No religion teaches this, and any understanding of any religion that adopts this divisive attitude proves itself false by doing so.
“ As a Vaishnava Hindu, a devotee of Sri Krishna, I recognize and respect both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed as messengers of God, messengers of love, peace, and universal brotherhood.”
Opposition to anti-India House Res 417
Here’s Tulsi’s statement on the timing and intent of the hearing about HR417
Besides Tulsi, HR 417 was opposed by other members of the House Foreign Affairs committee. Chair Rep. Ed Royce, said of the resolution “it weakens, rather than strengthens, the friendship between the US and India … The resolution runs counter to all the hard work that the American people, particularly those in the Indian American community, have done to improve the relationship,” Dem Rep. Eni Faleomavaega Jr., who was a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific- which has broad jurisdiction for US foreign policy for the Asian region said “The timing of the Resolution is unfortunate as it unintentionally invokes the name of the US House of Representatives for purposes of influencing India’s upcoming elections. India, like the United States, has an independent and transparent Judiciary and India’s Supreme Court and its Special Investigation Team have not found any evidence against Modi.”
Members of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission opposing HR417
- Tulsi Gabbard and Brad Sherman (D-CA) raised serious concerns about the timing of the HR417 hearing
- It was also not supported by Mike Honda (D-CA), who affirmed India’s religious pluralism as a reason why he would not sign HR 417.
Muslim donors of Tulsi:
I searched some common Muslim names to find Muslims donating to Tulsi at Opensecrets, some donating the max allowed, starting in March 2012. Click the names to see them