Minneapolis Temple Attack Leaves Hindu Community in Shock

Minneapolis, MN (April 12, 2006) - The Hindu American Foundation joined several Minnesota Hindus last week voicing outrage over the April 5, 2006 attack on the soon to be inaugurated Hindu temple in suburban Minneapolis. The temple, being completed in Maple Grove, Minnesota, planned and executed by the Hindu Society of Minneapolis, was to join other temples in the area for Hindu Americans to congregate and worship. Vandals desecrated and destroyed the Hindu Deities that were ready to be consecrated at the temple. 

The attack also left the auditorium and dining hall walls and ceilings damaged. Classroom windows were broken. Members of the tight-knit community who were preparing for the opening of the 40-acre, $9 million temple, expressed shock and dismay at community meetings held on April 8 and April 12.

Aseem Shukla, M.D., Member of the HAF Board of Directors, was present in Minneapolis for the April 8 temple meeting and joined the trustees and leadership of the Hindu society in condemning the act as a hate crime and urged local police authorities and the FBI to launch a thorough investigation and to apprehend the criminals quickly. Soon after the meeting, Dr. Shukla and the HAF executive director appealed to state legislators and members of the U.S. Congress representing the area to urge authorities for a careful and quick investigation into this crime.

"The people of our community condemn the outrageous vandalism done to the Hindu Society of Minnesota's new temple under construction in Maple Grove," said Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN) representing Maple Grove in the U.S. House of Representatives, one of the first government officials to support HAF's condemnation of the attack. "I trust Minnesotans to treat people of all religious faiths with respect and tolerance. I also trust that the perpetrators of these criminal acts will be brought to justice soon."

Minnesota State Senator Satveer Chaudhary (DFL-Fridley) released a statement on April 7 that categorically called for an investigation as a potential hate crime. “This was a crime against an obviously minority institution, and there is no way the perpetrators did not know that," he said. "Also, the focus of the destruction on Hindu sculptures was particularly heinous. Icons were intentionally decapitated and dismembered."

The Maple Grove temple is a classical Hindu structure with hand-carved Deities from India placed in sacred spaces in the temple. The images of Deities are carefully sculpted according to strict, ancient religious texts and traditions. Even minimal damage to the Deities precludes consecration and worship. Sculpting of new images of the Deities will take several months and thousands of dollars.

While Maple Grove authorities have been conducting a search for the arrest of the perpetrators, they have yet to find any leads or name any suspects. 

"The fact that the Deities were destroyed indicates that the vandals were trying to specifically hurt the worshippers’ sentiments," said Ishani Chowdhury, Executive Director of the Hindu American Foundation. "It is our hope that the Maple Grove community will stand firm and committed to completing the temple and making it a place of worship and community spirit”, Chowdhury said and called upon community leaders and elected officials to reassure the Hindu American community that xenophobia and such acts of hatred will not be tolerated. She called on the greater American Hindu community and well wishers to lend support to the Minnesota Hindu community during this time of crisis.