Group wants Gandhi statue removed

Oct. 2, 2010 at 6:42 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- A group advocating for minorities in India is lobbying for the removal of a statue of Mohandas Gandhi in San Francisco.

"The popular image of Gandhi as an egalitarian pacifist is a myth," Bhajan Singh, a member of the Organization for Minorities of India, said in a statement. "We plan to challenge that myth by disseminating Gandhi's own words to expose his racism and sham nonviolence."

The bronze statue was erected in a plaza at the Ferry Building in 1988. Since then, vandals or souvenir hunters have removed Gandhi's glasses four times, but no one until recently has demanded the statue of one of the world's most admired men be removed.

Singh and his colleagues say Gandhi's political views are responsible for the oppression of Indian Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities. Gandhi, known to his followers as the Mahatma, was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist in 1949.

P.J. Johnston, head of the city Arts Commission, said he expects Gandhi to remain where he is.

"I would just say that in my professional career, I've had no greater honor than having to defend Gandhi," Johnston, a professional crisis manager, said.

In Flint, Mich., a statue of Gandhi was unveiled Saturday in a "peace garden" on the University of Michigan-Flint campus, The Flint Journal reported.

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