UK probes RSS-inspired charity for anti-Muslim comments

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Feb 20, 2015 01:00 IST

Britain’s regulator of charity organisations has launched a statutory inquiry after an undercover investigation showed a teacher at a camp for children organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) making strong remarks against Christians and Muslims.

Ideologically inspired by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), HSS has been operating in Britain since 1966 as a charity organisation. Its structure, principles and activities are similar to those of the RSS. Its president is Dhiraj D Shah.

The investigation, telecast on ITV on Wednesday night, showed the teacher speaking at a ‘leadership camp’ in Herefordshire. Responding to questions, the teacher makes controversial remarks against Christians and Muslims.

The Charity Commission said its inquiry into HSS “will investigate comments made by an individual invited to speak at a charity event in the presence of the charity’s beneficiaries”.

Michelle Russell, director of Investigations at the commission, said: “We are disturbed at the footage we have seen - some of which is so serious it is clearly a matter for the police”.

In a statement, HSS said the speaker shown in the documentary was not a trustee or office-bearer. HSS said it had launched its own inquiry and in future will take “even greater care that no views are expressed from its platform that could directly or indirectly promote interfaith discord”.

Stating that HSS did not promote or practice the kind of views expressed, HSS said that since its inception in Britain none of its members had been questioned or warned by British authorities.

“Our goal and indeed our actions over the last 49 years shows that HSS promotes more diversity and unity in British society based on our articulation of Hindu values of universal peace”, HSS said, adding it was extending ‘full cooperation’ to the commission in its investigation.

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