Denial of Visa to Modi Causes Split Among Indo-Americans

March 23, 2005

Source: Mercury News

On March 23, 2005 the Mercury News reported, "An international spat involving a controversial politician in India and a convention of hotel owners in Florida is causing a major uproar in Silicon Valley, the heart of the nation's Indo-American community. Indians of all creeds are in a tizzy about the U.S. refusal to allow Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, to come to Fort Lauderdale to speak at this week's conference organized by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, many of them Indo-Americans from Gujarat. Modi is expected to speak instead by video on Saturday. 'Even people not necessarily supporters of Modi are talking about this,' said Sam Rao, a community activist in Fremont. 'People think this is a snub.' The Bush administration denied Modi's diplomatic visa Friday under the International Religious Freedom Act, which gives the president the authority to cancel a foreign government official's visit if that person was responsible for 'particularly severe violations of religious freedoms.' Modi is faulted for doing little to rein in the predominantly Hindu mobs that killed estimates of 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat in 2002. The riots started after Muslims allegedly set fire to a train full of Hindu activists, killing 58."