Indian-Americans protest against Wharton’s Modi slight

It’s an attack on freedom of speech, they say

March 25, 2013 12:58 am | Updated November 16, 2021 11:33 pm IST - Washington:

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi

About 200 Indian-Americans held a protest march in Pennsylvania against the withdrawal of an invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to speak at the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF).

Under the banner of “Americans for Free Speech,” they raised slogans like “We want Modi” and displayed his pictures.

Most of the protesters who had arrived from New York and New Jersey marched down several blocks to hold a demonstration in front of the WIEF event on Saturday. The WIEF held its day-long conference on India’s economic development.

Several speakers addressed the protesters gathered across the street from the Harrison Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania, where the conference was held.

“Members of the press were denied entrance to the conference,” The Daily Pennsylvanian reported, putting the number of protesters at 200.

Opposing the WIEF cancelling its invitation to Mr. Modi after three Pennsylvania University professors protested against it, Narain Kataria of the Indian American Intellectuals Forum alleged that the WIEF had attacked “freedom of speech” and called it an “inappropriate interference” in the Indian political process.

Later, in a memorandum submitted to the University president Amy Gutmann, the protesters said they were “saddened and outraged to see this great university being bullied by a mere three English and Social Work activist professors” of Indian origin.

“The principal issues here are freedom of speech and right to dissent. Sadly, both of these have been brutally trampled on at UPenn by this action,” the memorandum stated.

Wharton snubbed Mr. Modi at the eleventh hour and withdrew invitation to speak at the forum by live video following a petition from a group of university faculty and students not connected with Wharton.

The Gujarat Chief Minister has been denied a U.S. visa for his alleged role in the 2002 riots.

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