Teaneck Democrats under fire for anti-Hindu resolution
The Teaneck Democratic Organization is in the crosshairs of US and National Indian leaders after passing a controversial resolution that potentially divides New Jersey’s Hindu and Muslim communities by labeling some US-based Hindu organizations as foreign hate groups.
Alexandra Soriano-Taveras, the Democratic city chairwoman of Teaneck, is now being slammed by her fellow Democrats after a national Hindu organization threatened to urge their community to withhold the vote in New Jersey’s upcoming all-Democrat election, in unless the resolution is withdrawn.
Under pressure from some Democratic leaders in Bergen, Soriano-Taveras issued a statement on Saturday evening regretting that the resolution had been “misinterpreted as a statement against Hinduism in general, rather than a condemnation of nationalist rhetoric aimed at stoking communal tensions, and in particular stirring up tensions against Muslims, Christians and other minority religions in India.
Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), the only South Asian American in the New Jersey State Senate, condemned Teaneck Democrats for their rhetoric that “unfairly states that almost every major American Hindu organization in the United States is an organization that promotes hatred and terrorism.
“Every religion and every organization contains extremist elements,” Gopal said. “This is a time of promoting diversity and inclusion, and it is for this reason that I stand with the American Hindu community in condemning this anti-Hindu resolution and calling for its immediate repeal.”
But Soriano-Taveras dubbed the resolution itself, saying Teaneck Democrats stood by the resolution.
“We stand in solidarity against hate and strongly support a safe environment for all, in support of the fundamental principles of the Democratic Party,” she said in a statement on Saturday that seemed to escalate the situation.
New Jersey’s Asian American population has grown over the past decade to more than one million people, a 44% increase.
There has been no discernible conflict between Hindu and Muslim South Asians in Democratic and Republican circles. Now, the Teaneck dispute could be divisive, especially when Democratic candidates in tight races fear the loss of Hindu support in the upcoming election.
“Instead of working to unite residents and elect local democrats in Teaneck, the city committee is instead creating divisions and focusing on politics thousands of miles away in India,” Gopal said.
Former Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) distanced herself from the resolution and told party leaders that Soriano-Tavares did not share it with local party officials.
The global issue involves long-running allegations that Indian Prime Minister and Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi has advocated depriving Indian Muslims of certain rights, including land ownership.
The issue began to simmer in New Jersey last month after a bulldozer – the symbol of the destruction of Muslim property in India – emblazoned with a picture of Modi, was featured in the Edison India Day parade.
“For those who understood the symbolism of the bulldozer, it was a brutal and sinister taunt later compared to a noose or a flaming cross at a Ku Klux Klan rally,” the Indo-Muslim Council said on Sunday. American.
The Indian Business Association issued an apology.
“Our parade should never be political and should never include these blatant symbols of division,” the group said. “We hereby commit to not allowing these symbols in the future and to working with all of the various South Asian descent groups to ensure that our parade remains the best in the State of New Jersey.”
CAIR-NJ executive director Selaedin Maksut said the group’s acknowledgment of the problem was a “necessary step to make future parades representative of the Indian diaspora, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Tribals.
“Such hatred cannot be tolerated. Instead, the parade should celebrate India’s independence, its rich culture and its diversity,” Maksut said.
Following Teaneck’s resolution, a lawyer representing the American Hindu Foundation accused the American Indian Muslim Council of making false and defamatory statements in a press release that called the group Hindu supremacists who “infiltrated all policy levels”.
“These accusations are absolutely false and highly defamatory and prejudicial to HAF,” said their attorney, Ryan Stonerock, asking for a retraction and an apology.
Gopal suggested the Democratic Teaneck party was playing with fire.
“The American Hindu community, like other minority communities, has recently experienced numerous instances of vicious hate crimes based on their faith and skin color, including against many Hindu temples in the New Jersey area” , said the Democratic leader of the Senate. . “It is unfortunate that this committee that purports to support the ideals of the Democratic Party is acting in a way that exemplifies the kind of bigotry and hatred that we as a country are working hard to eradicate from our society.”
Gopal pushed back on Soriano-Taveras’ call for the FBI to investigate certain groups, including Sewa International, as a terrorist group.
“I have personally worked with Sewa International… during Covid to help get ventilators for all individuals regardless of race or religion.
This is Soriano’s second brush with controversy in as many years.
In 2021, she captured the Democratic organization’s line for an open seat in the State Assembly in the solidly blue 37th Precinct, but a video that captured her suggesting a boycott of Jewish businesses in Teaneck led Democratic Bergen County Chairman Paul Juliano to withdraw his support.
Soriano-Taveras took part in a small protest in July 2020 after the Teaneck Township council went with an all-white leadership team and rejected a candidacy for deputy mayor from a black woman, Gervonn Romney Rice. Ironically, Romney Rice was his opponent in the Democratic primary last year.
In the video, she was heard saying, ‘Boycott these companies, including Dunkin’ Donuts and all, and we hurt them in their pockets. Who owns these businesses that we continue to support on Cedar Lane? »
In his resolution, Soriano-Taveras sought to pressure U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), Governor Phil Murphy’s legislative delegation, and Teaneck to become more involved in the question.