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Hindu temple ad runs in Times Square despite opposition - The Washington Post

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New York-Despite the appeal of a coalition of advocacy organizations including Muslims, human rights, anti-fascist and secular organizations, large digital billboards in Times Square still display images of Hindu deities and temples being built on the disputed ground. Ask advertisers not to display pictures.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Narendra Modi) participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Hindu temple in the Indian city of Ayodhya on Wednesday. Modi's supporters plan to gather in Times Square in New York City throughout the day to commemorate the occasion.

On Wednesday morning, about a dozen people stood in front of the billboard and took selfies. On the screen were bright yellow images of multi-arched temples and images of the Hindu god Ram and the Indian flag.

Billboards surround the corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue. The Times Square Alliance website stated that the website is owned by Clear Channel, which did not immediately return a request for comment.

Modi placed the first batch of silver bricks on the Uttar Pradesh construction site of the planned temple, which will be built while the Babri Mosque is standing. The mosque was destroyed by Hindu hardliners in 1992, triggering community violence and killing about 2,000 people.

Hindus believe that Ram was born at the site and claim that Mughal Emperor Babur built a mosque on top of the temple.

Jagdish Sewhani told the News Agency of India that the organizers of the Times Square celebrations bought the main billboard space and called him the chairman of the American Indian Public Affairs Committee.

"We are just celebrating, and it is not against anyone. This is a human event, and we think it is a better place than Times Square," Sewhani told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The American Indian Public Affairs Commission does not have a website, and ProPublica’s non-profit database does not have a 1099 tax form. There is no company registered under this name in New York State.

When asked about the details of his organization, Sehani described it as a "group of people" concerned about US-Indian relations, and then said: "Let us focus on Lord Ram."

In an interview with the "South Asian Insider Program", Sewhani said that he was one of the founders of the American faction of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling Indian nationalist party in India. India has been a secular country since its independence from Britain in 1947.

India’s Supreme Court held a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday before its ruling on the construction of a Hindu temple in November last year. The court also ordered the provision of 5 acres (2 hectares) of land to Muslims to build a mosque nearby. But the ruling disappointed Muslims, who account for about 14% of India’s 1.3 billion people.

The coalition against billboards wrote to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, asking him to oppose the planned Times Square display, which they called an abomination to Islam and a symbol of India’s violence against Muslims.

Shaik Ubaid, chairman of the Indian Minority Advocacy Network, told the Associated Press: “This not only shows the act of glorifying and glorifying evil and cruelty.” "They are very confident to do this in Times Square, the heart of America."

The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The alliance also requires supporters to call large advertising companies and ask them not to put pictures on billboards. According to Clarion India, a representative of the brand city company told the alliance on Monday that they will not host digital advertisements for celebrations in Times Square. The brand city did not return an email from AP.

Sewhani opposes that any planned billboard advertising has been cancelled.

J. Ubaid responded to hearing about the exhibition, saying: "This advertising controversy gives us an opportunity to educate Americans and the world about what happened in India and the loss of India's secular constitution."

Ubaid tweeted a picture of a truck hired by the Council of Indian American Muslims with opposing panel advertisements, including a picture of the Babri Mosque on it. It read: "I used to stand in this beautiful mosque in India, which was demolished by Indian extremists." In the video, a truck drove a few blocks from Times Square.

The Indian Indian Muslim Council is part of the coalition, which plans to demonstrate against the Hindu supremacy movement in Times Square on Wednesday night.

The representative of the All India Muslim Personal Law Commission, Zafaryab Jilani, previously stated that although the Muslim community in India is not satisfied with the Supreme Court’s ruling, it will respect the decision and will not protest the construction of the temple.

Several well-known Muslim writers, scholars and activists who did not want to be named refused to discuss this issue, which shows that the Indian community has resigned to the new reality.


Associated Press reporters, Biswajeet Banerjee of Lucknow, India, and Ted Shaffrey of New York, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. all rights reserved. Without permission, this material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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