‘Hindu fascism’: Protesters target Modi’s Wembley Stadium welcome

Demontrators protest opposite Downing Street against India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit, in London, November 12, 2015. © Suzanne Plunkett
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appearance at Wembley Stadium, where he has been welcomed with an afternoon of performance and celebration, will also be met with protests outside the venue.

Following days of action against the leader’s visit to the UK, up to 8,000 protesters are expected to demonstrate outside Wembley from 17:00 GMT. 

The Indian leader is in the UK for a three-day official visit. He has been holding business negotiations and has been hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The British government listed more than 20 collaborations and deals on Thursday, including a £1.3-billion investment by mobile phone company Vodafone.

In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Modi announced greater collaboration between India and the UK on climate change and clean energy, including a civil nuclear agreement and a commitment to “intensify our political dialogue.”

Inside the stadium, Modi will be greeted by Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, British-Indian singer Jay-Paul and Mumbai-born British soprano Patricia Rozario.

Modi is expected to speak to a crowd of over 60,000 British Indians, and the day’s events will culminate with the “biggest firework display in the whole country.”

However, outside the stadium protesters will continue to oppose the visit.

Many minority religion British-Indians living in the UK believe Modi should not be welcomed by the state due to the religions tensions that have arisen during his rule.

Indian novelist Arundhati Roy wrote recently in the Indian Express that minority religions such as Christians, Muslims and Sikhs are “being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come.”

Hundreds of demonstrators from around the UK gathered outside Downing Street on Thursday afternoon when the leader arrived, holding placards and signs saying “Modi Not Welcome.” Some posters even displayed pictures of Modi and Hitler, suggesting the Indian leader’s policies promote ethnic cleansing.

Even more are expected to attend Friday’s protest at Wembley.
Jas Singh, from Sikh rights group Dal Khalsa UK, told RT the protest displayed a united front formed of minority religions against “the politics of Hindu fascism.”

“All the minorities here have put on a united front,” he said. They are protesting against the “politics of Hindu fascism” also known as “Hindutva ideology.”

He said the demonstration intends to “highlight the atrocities” visited on minority groups “due to this ideology.” Singh said “we see the ideology as Nazism.”

“Modi is a new Hitler rising in the east.”

The united front against Modi launched on Sunday when secular group Awaaz projected a swastika onto the Houses of Parliament, saying it was aimed at highlighting the way Modi uses religious symbols for authoritarian ends. The swastika is actually the OM sign in Hinduism.

“I think it sent a clear message that a large part of the Indian community here rejects the politics of hate and intolerance, wherever it takes place,” Awaaz Network representative Suresh Grover said.