Sunday Feb 05, 2023

NJ India Day Parade organizers under fire for anti-Muslim symbol – My Central Jersey

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Alexander Lewis, Home News Tribune and Courier News

EDISON – Mayor Sam Joshi said symbols of hate and discrimination are not welcome in the township, after a piece of construction equipment, viewed as a symbol of hate by the Muslim community, was featured in the Aug. 14 India Day Parade.

The parade, along Oak Tree Road, from Edison to Woodbridge, marked the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the division of the South Asian subcontinent into two nations, Hindu-oriented India and Muslim-oriented Pakistan, after years of civil strife.

In a statement Monday, Joshi said Edison is committed to celebrating and working in harmony with people from all cultures.

But an American-Islamic relations group is disappointed Joshi has not gone further in rebuking the parade organizers. The group has also called for parade organizers to apologize.

The parade, organized by the Indian Business Association (IBA), featured a piece of construction equipment with the photos of political leaders in India, who are described as proponents of hate against Muslims and other minorities, according to Azra Baig, chair of the South Brunswick’s Human Relations Commission.

“This bulldozer was included in a parade that was supposed to celebrate the national pride of this country,” Baig said during Monday’s township council work session meeting. “As someone who is Muslim, I find this terrorizing and harassing and so does the Muslim community across New Jersey, across the country and the world.”

In India, Baig explained, homes, businesses and houses of worship are being bulldozed because of people’s faith and when they stand up for their rights.

“Something this hateful should never be included in a parade in Edison,” she said.

“That bulldozer on Oak Tree Road was an evil display of bigotry, racism, injustice and prejudice. That was wrong,” a resident of Hana Road in Edison said.

Joshi said the India Day Parade is independently run and not a township-sponsored event, however his office was made aware that a piece construction equipment was used as a symbol of division and discrimination. He said any symbol or action that represents discrimination is unwelcome in Edison.

“My office will be working with stakeholders to ensure that celebrations in the future serve the best interest of our community,” Joshi said.

The IBA, which organized the parade, has not responded to an email request for comment. No one answered the phone at the association office in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, and the voicemail was not accepting any more messages.

Baig and Dylan Terpstra, operations coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) New Jersey, expressed concern to the council members that the symbolism could have more far-reaching effects. Baig wants to make sure this type of hate does spread in the school district, where already Muslims …….


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