Posted on August 22, 2022

Protesters at an Indian Independence Day Parade in California Were Shoved and Called ‘Stupid Muslims’

Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, August 19, 2022

A large Indian Independence Day parade and festival in Anaheim, California, earlier this week devolved into shoves and Islamophobic slurs after a group of demonstrators brought signs protesting Hindu nationalism and discrimination in India.

In a video viewed by NBC Asian America taken during the physical confrontation on Sunday, men can be seen jostling and grabbing at the young group of protesters, some shouting things like “stupid Muslims” and “get out” along with various nationalist chants.

The parade celebrates India’s independence from British colonialism in 1947, which transpired along with the violent partition between India and Pakistan. On the 75th anniversary, activists said they came out to uplift oppressed minority voices on the subcontinent.

“It felt really urgent, especially around India’s Independence Day,” said Shanelle Gulabi, one of the protesters. “Because whose independence is being celebrated? Who gets to celebrate freedom? And freedom from whom when there’s been so much active violence and targeting of Muslim, caste-oppressed communities, Christian communities, Sikh communities.”


The 14 or 15 protesters were easily outnumbered by the hundreds present at the event, they said. But the event was at a public space in Anaheim, and it was advertised as being open to all.

“They just started pushing and jostling us,” another protester, who chose to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said. “It was just a line of men. They were pushing at us, grabbing us, grabbing our signs, and yelling obscenities in Hindi and English.”

The yelling soon turned into slurs, the protesters said.

“We were being called terrorists. We were being asked questions like, ‘Are you Pakistani?’” Gulabi said. “A lot of Islamophobic slurs were being thrown at us as a group.”

“One guy said ‘stupid Muslims,’” the anonymous protester added. “There was nothing to mark our identity. It was just that assumption.”

The video shows that the men rushed the group of protesters, knocking their phones out of their hands and ripping their signs from them.

But event organizer Manoj Agrawal denied any physical violence happened, telling NBC Asian America in a statement that the protesters were scaring children at the event.