By Steven Zhou
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
A long-time advocate, businessman, and executive of an Indo-Canadian free trade organization has been tweeting explicitly Islamophobic comments that portray Muslims as irrepressible extremists who shouldn’t be allowed in peaceful societies.
Anil Shringi is the Vice President of Media and Mass Communications for the India Canada Global Forum, which aims to “create strong economic ties and international business relationships between Canada, India and other countries,” while fostering “ties directly between businesses in Canada and India through seminars, exhibitions, and other trade shows.”
Shringi is a self-styled political commentator with his own YouTube channel, commenting often on Indian and Canadian affairs. In this capacity, he has been tweeting vehemently and liberally about Islam being a violent and barbaric religion, and whose adherents perpetrate such violence wherever they go.
A good number of these tweets focus on India, often by pitting the country’s Hindu population against its Muslim minority. For Shringi, Muslims have to choose to either join a Hindu majority state or languish in “barbaric/radical Islam.”
This Hindu vs. Muslim dichotomy reflects a growing antipathy among radical supporters of India’s ruling, popular Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) towards minorities in India, including Muslims.
The party is steeped in nationalist ideology that casts India as a once pristine Hindu state before being invaded by Muslims and other “outsiders.” A quick scan of Shringi’s Twitter timeline shows that he’s an enthusiastic supporter of the BJP. His Twitter profile picture is him shaking hands with current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper looking on.
Supporters of this ultra-nationalist narrative have often made demeaning comments about Islam and Muslims, much like Shringi’s tweets.
Lasy May, Shringi tweeted that, “Democracy are [sic] Haram (not allowed) in Islam, then why should democratic nations allow Muslims in their country.”
Despite Canada being the home to about a million Muslims, Shringi insists that Muslims view democracy as a prohibited idea, a common post-9/11 narrative used by various Islamophobic voices over the years to illustrate Islam’s incompatibility with “the West,” Canada, or liberal values.
For instance, another tweet of his last year insists, without evidence, that “Islamic Sharia law” include a number of barbaric punishments, including rules like “cut man’s penis when they rape, and cut hands when they steal and cut their tongue if the lie.”
Or, that “Islam teaches violence, killing innocent children, women, men is the teaching of Islam.”
He has also pushed the ubiquitous notion that Islam is inherent an ideology that hates women, evidenced by how, “every single Muslim women [sic] knows that they are treated as an animal, as a sex machine.”
The number of times Shringi has tweeted these ideas and sentiments (many go back to at least 2017) seems to suggest that they’re less aberrant outbursts and a reflection of deeper ideological commitments.
Another indication of Shringi’s Islamophobic commentary being connected to a broader “Hindu nationalist” (otherwise referred to as “Hindutva,” literally “Hindu-ness”) is a 2017 post where he memorializes a colleague he calls a “Swayamsevak.”
Swayamsevak literally means “volunteer” in Sanskrit and is often used to refer to someone who volunteers specifically for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Organization, a far-right Hindu nationalist umbrella group founded in 1925 that first popularized the underlying ideology of Hindutva.
The RSS is now the parent organization for a dense network of entities that came out of its ideological heritage, including the BJP itself. India’s Prime MinisterNarendra Modi himself is a long time member of the RSS, having started as a volunteer in his youth.
In his post, Shringi also notes that, thanks to his late colleague, he eventually became a “Mukhya Shikshak for 10 years” at a “Mandir Shakha.”
Mandir is a term with Sanskrit origins, meaning Hindu temple. A quick scan of the RSS’s FAQ page shows that a “shakha” is a branch of and the “fundamental unit of activity” of the RSS. A “Mukhya Shikshak” is the head or leader of such a shakha unit, which is what Shringi referred to himself as in the Facebook post.
Shringi did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
Though the BJP has long become a major force in Indian politics, the RSS remained marginal for some time and has been banned three times in India since the country gained independence in 1947, primarily for links to Hindutva-inspired extremist violence.
Critics and scholars have also, with the rise of Modi and the BJP in recent years, pointed out how the RSS founders admired European fascism, including Nazism, and used Hitler’s Germany as a possible model for a future India that belongs primarily to Hindus.
This article is part of a project which has been made possible in part thanks to the the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Sun Life financial.