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Republicans in Texas apologize for campaign ad likening a Hindu deity to the GOP elephant

To attract Indian-American voters, a Republican party group in suburban Houston released a campaign ad with ...

Posted: Sep 21, 2018 5:16 AM
Updated: Sep 21, 2018 5:16 AM

To attract Indian-American voters, a Republican party group in suburban Houston released a campaign ad with an image of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity.

Published in the India Herald newspaper and sponsored by the Fort Bend County Republican Party, the ad played on the animal symbols for the Democratic and Republican parties. It read: "Would you worship a donkey or an elephant? The choice is yours."

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The ad was published on September 12, a day before the start of Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10-day Hindu festival which celebrates the birth of Ganesha.

Now, after a backlash from Hindu-Americans who said the ad was inappropriate, the Fort Bend Republicans have issued an apology, saying they never intended to offend anyone.

'Despicable and offensive'

"While we appreciate the Fort Bend County GOP's attempt to reach out to Hindus on an important Hindu festival, its ad — equating Hindus' veneration of the Lord Ganesha with choosing a political party based on its animal symbol — is problematic and offensive," said Rishi Bhutada, a board member with the Hindu American Foundation, in a statement this week.

"Using religious imagery in order to explicitly appeal for political support should best be avoided by any political party."

Sri Preston Kulkarni, an Indian-American and the Democratic nominee for Texas' 22nd Congressional District, shared the ad on Twitter and Facebook while condemning its choice of words.

"Asking Hindu-Americans if they would rather vote for a donkey or an elephant by comparing Ganesha, a religious figure, to a political party is highly inappropriate," Kulkarni tweeted.

On Facebook, Kulkarni said the ad implied Hindu-Americans should vote for the Republican party because its symbol is an elephant. He asked for the party to retract the ad and apologize to the community.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American candidate for the US House of Representatives from Minnesota's Fifth District, followed Preston Kulkarni's tweet with her own, calling the ad "despicable and offensive."

'We offer our sincerest apologies'

Nearly 20% of the population in Fort Bend County is Asian-American.

In a statement obtained by CNN, the county's Republican Party chairman says their main objective was to celebrate and knowledge the Hindu holiday.

"The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way," said the chairman, Jacey Jetton.

"This ad was created with input from those of Hindu faith so that we could properly pay respect to the sacred festival. This highlights the difficulty in outreach that can be positive for one group but not for another in the same community," Jetton added. "We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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High pressure moves into our area and will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next several days. This will mean drier weather in store for our area for several days. However, by this weekend, things could change as a tropical system threatens our area.
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