Gandhi was racist and planned statue of him at Manchester University must be scrapped due to his ‘complicity in the British Empire’s actions in Africa’ says Students’ Union leader who banned clapping
- Statue of Gandhi facing backlash from Manchester University student activists
- Students have called for 9ft structure to be scrapped in open letter to Council
- Gandhi accused of ‘anti-black racism’ , ‘complicity’ in British colonialism in Africa
- The statue was donated to the city to promote ‘peace, love and harmony’
A group of students at the University of Manchester are calling for a statue of Indian independence figure Mahatma Gandhi to be scrapped due to his ‘well-documented anti-black racism’ and ‘complicity in the British Empire’s actions in Africa’.
The 9ft statue is set to be unveiled outside Manchester Cathedral on November 25th and is intended to promote peace in the city following the Manchester Arena terror attack in May 2017, which killed 22 people.
It was donated to the city by the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, a spiritual mission based in Gandhi’s ancestral homeland of Gujarat, to ‘spread a message of peace, love and harmony.’
Mahatma Gandhi is remembered across the globe for his non-violent campaign for Indian independence and was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
A statue of the iconic leader of India’s independence movement is set to be unveiled outside Manchester Cathedral on November 25th. Student activists at the University of Manchester are calling for the statue to be scrapped based on his ‘well-documented anti-black racism’ and ‘complicity in the British Empire’s actions in Africa’
But in an open letter to the Manchester City Council, university students have demanded the Council reconsider its decision, citing Ghandi as a ‘fellow colonist’ and referencing the hashtag ‘#GandhiMustFall’, which was previously used during similar efforts to remove a statue at the University of Ghana.
The letter reads: ‘Gandhi referred to Africans as “savages”, “half-heathen Natives”, “uncivilised”, “dirty” and “like animals”.’
‘He saw himself as a ‘fellow-colonist’, theorising Indians as a superior race, which he called ‘indo-aryan’ in explicit reference to white supremacist logic.’
The letter states that Ghandi is used as a political figure to justify current human rights abuses under Modi, and argues the Indian government is ‘engaging in an effort to erect Ghandi statues globally to create an image of India as an anti-imperialist state.’
The letter demanded that the university ‘refuse to be complicit in this, especially given the city’s history of anti-racist action, and to stand in solidarity with Manchester’s Black and Kashmiri communities.’
The student activists also asked the Council to release a public statement acknowledging Gandhi’s ‘anti-black racism’.
One of the authors of the letter, Union Liberation and Access Officer Sara Khan told student union paper The Mancunion that black history month was an especially important time to be shedding a light on Ghandi’s ‘anti-black racism’ and confront the ‘terrible injustices black people have faced and continue to face across the world.’
Ms Khan explained her stance on Twitter, saying: ‘Erecting a statue of Gandhi will only promote his racist & anti-black ideology, & legitimise continued violence in Kashmir.’
Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur defended the planned erection of the statue, saying: ‘This call is an extreme and limited interpretation of Gandhi, whose heroism united Indians, South Africans and Americans in their liberation movements.
One of the authors of the letter, Union Liberation and Access Officer Sara Khan (pictured) told student union paper The Mancunion that black history month was an especially important time to be shedding a light on Ghandi’s ‘anti-black racism’ and confront the ‘terrible injustices black people have faced and continue to face across the world’
‘Mahatma Gandhi is a citizen of the world and an icon of peace. The Manchester statue will celebrate the universal power of his message.’
Ms Khan made headlines in March for demanding articles by the Manchester university student-run newspaper be vetted by a ‘sensitivity reader’ and stating the publication should ask people for their permission to be reported on.
She explained that being written about could ‘result in psychological distress, and puts people at risk of being harassed, especially women, who are particularly targeted with death and rape threats through social media.’
Ms Khan also called for the student newspaper to implement a 45 per cent quota of journalists and staff to come from black, Asian and minority ethnic background to reflect the student population.
She last year led a vote that banned clapping at the university, saying that the noise could cause issues with to those with autism, sensory issues or deafness.
Manchester City Council was not immediately available for comment.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Gujarat, western India.
He left India for London at age 19 to train in law at the Inner Temple. Upon returning to India in mid-1891, he set up a law practice in Bombay, but had little success. He moved to South Africa in 1893 to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit.
In 1915, he returned to India and began organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination.
He led nationwide campaigns calling for Indian independence, or ‘swaraj’, alongside poverty alleviation and expanding women’s rights.
Gandhi lived in a self-sufficient community and ate vegetarian food, undertaking long fasts as a way to self-purify and as a method of protest.
He launched the Quit India movement at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee in August 1942, during WWII, calling for an end to British Rule of India
In 1934, Gandhi announced his retirement from politics, as well as his resignation from the Congress Party, and concentrated his efforts on working within rural communities.
Gandhi was fatally shot while on his way to an evening prayer meeting in Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic enraged by Mahatma’s efforts to negotiate with Jinnah and other Muslims.