The first Hindu-American Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard alleged that she has become a victim of "religious bigotry" in politics and that a few media outlets were accusing her of being a Hindu nationalist.
Gabbard, a four-term Democratic congresswoman has been facing severe criticism from the media after she had announced her entry as a presidential candidate for 2020 earlier this month.
On Saturday, the 37-year old wrote an editorial in the Religious News Services describing the campaign against her and her supporters as "profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis."
"Tomorrow will it be Muslim or Jewish Americans? Japanese, Hispanic or African Americans? ", she asked.
The presidential aspirant said that she is proud to be the first Hindu-American to have been elected to the US Congress and the first Hindu-American to run for president. But the media has been targeting her and her donors carrying Hindu names, accusing them of being Hindu nationalists.
She said that her meetings with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been used by the media to drive their narrative. She hinted at differential treatment while pointing out the fact that other leaders like the former US President Barack Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump have met and worked with the Indian PM.
Gabbard said that India was one of America's closest allies in Asia and is a country of growing importance in a critical region of the world.
"The strategic partnership between our two countries has been a priority for several decades now. To question my commitment to my country, while not questioning non-Hindu leaders, creates a double standard that can be rooted in only one thing: religious bigotry. I am Hindu and they are not", she said.
Remembering her old war days she said that no one had questioned her or her fellow soldiers about their patriotism due to their religion when they were deployed to Iraq.
"We all took an oath to serve our country and defend the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution", she said.
"My military service has shaped who I am today", she said. When she was in the middle-east she saw how countries perished due to the excessive attachment towards their religious sect.
She also referred to past attacks against her by other political opponents. She said that during 2012 and 2014 elections her political opponent had publicly stated that, "a Hindu should not be allowed to serve in the US Congress and that Hinduism is incompatible with the US Constitution".
And in 2016, her Republican opponent had repeatedly said that voting for her was like voting for the devil because of her religion, wrote Gabbard.
"Republicans like Ben Carson said in 2016 that a Muslim-American would be unqualified to serve as president". She also alleged that democratic senators have recently opposed Republican judicial nominees because of their connection to Catholicism.
These actions and attitude not only undermine the Constitution but also incite fear forcing people into the shadows because of their religion, and the US Constitution clearly states that there is no religious test for the candidates who seek to serve in the public office.
"Those who are trying to foment anti-Hindu sentiment expose the dark underbelly of religious bigotry in politics and must be called out. To advocate voting for or against someone based on religion, race, or gender is simply un-American," she said.
Gabbard had also refused to chair the World Hindu Congress in Chicago due to her differences with its organisers who were seen close to the Hindu extremist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), reports PTI.