On Monday, April 19, the Hindu American Foundation sent five cease and desist notices to organizations and individuals who have made libelous statements against HAF, published in two articles by Al Jazeera in the first week of April 2021.
Receiving the legal notices are: Hindus for Human Rights co-founders Sunita Vishwanath and Raju Rajgopal, Rasheed Ahmed of the Indian American Muslim Council, and Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations’ John Prabhudoss, as well as both the author of one of the Al Jazeera articles, Raqib Hameed Naik, and Al Jazeera as an organization, have all been sent demands for retraction, public apology, and refraining from publishing further false and defamatory statements.
In addition, Rutgers-Newark Associate Professor Audrey Truschke was served with a cease and desist notice due to her amplification of these libelous articles on social media, along with a pattern of her own defamatory statements about HAF. Truschke recently posted on social media the libelous accusation that HAF and members of its Board of Directors coordinated a campaign of violent threats against her.
“As the largest professionally-staffed Hindu advocacy organization in the United States, serving the three million stong Hindu American community, HAF is highly visible and often subject to harassment and abuse,” said Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF’s Executive Director. “The Al Jazeera articles and those quoted in them went beyond legitimate differences of opinion or perspective and crossed the line into libel and defamation. This we will never let stand.”
The articles in question, published in the first week of April 2021, presented utterly false claims that HAF has improperly used COVID-19 related Paycheck Protection Program Small Business Administration relief funds to support hatred, Islamophobia, violence and “slow genocide” against Christians and Muslims in India, and is linked to allegedly Hindu nationalist and Hindu supremacist organizations in India. The Al Jazeera articles went on to falsely claim that HAF serves as a US “front” for several India-based organizations. Furthermore, HAF is accused of lobbying on the behalf of the Government of India.
HAF leaders stated that all of these claims are verifiably false; and HAF’s relevant financial documents are publicly available at www.hinduamerican.org. HAF leadership strongly rejected insinuations of dual loyalty to India, associations with foreign organizations or Islamophobia, and expressed a determination to fight these accusations in US courts.
As per tax filings, HAF has only sent funds overseas to independent organizations supporting Hindus fleeing persecution in Pakistan, now living as refugees in India, and those helping persecuted Hindus in Pakistan itself. None of these organizations received any funding from money HAF received under US covid relief programs.
HAF asserts that statements made about HAF by named organizations in the United States, as well as Al Jazeera’s publication of these statements in its articles, is in reckless disregard of the truth and with clear malice, fully meeting the definition of libel under US law.
HAF’s litigation attorneys in this matter are Beverly Hills, California-based Harder LLP.