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 FOSA started by Pakistanis has burnt Indian flags  during processions


Friends of South


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Friends of South Asia (FOSA, established 2001) is a volunteer [1] South Asian American peace organization [2] based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group's stated basic mission is to "achieve a peaceful, prosperous, and hate-free South[ing] through people-to-people contacts, dialog, and other non-violent, non-exclusionary means." [3]


It is not known who heads the organization, and how many members it has. The photographs of its vigils, held jointly with a Sikh organization, show 15-20 participants [1]. The organization is specially associated with EKTA, CAC and collaborates with several other "peace" or "left" organizations in California region.


FOSA was founded in 2001 by Pakistani expatriates with some Indian friends, concerned about the threat of military action by India, as a result of Pakistan's support of terrorist activities in India. [2] [3] [4] [4] ; co-founded by Sabahat Ashraf [5] and Ali Hasan Cemendtaur [4] from Karachi, Pakistan. Members organized candlelight vigils [6] and letter-writing campaigns [7] for peace, initially in collaboration with groups like the Sikh Qaumantri Punjabi Bhaichara (Punjabi International Friendship) Group of California. [6] [8] The local vigils grew out of a series of vigils for peace in South Asia held simultaneously in 18 cities around the world. [9]


The organization was described by Metro Santa Cruz in April 2006 as "a hodgepodge of mostly secular-leaning South Asian Hindus and Muslims—university students, Silicon Valley engineers moonlighting as activists, etc.—who regularly organize local vigils, poetry readings, films and speaker events relating to South Asian issues." [10] Ali Hasan Cemendtaur has led the group since its beginning. In 2006, on the text-book issue Anupama Mandavilli,a doctoral candidate at University of Southern California, has been the primary press spokesperson. [11] [12][13]


As of 2006, Friends of South Asia continues to advocate against militarism in India, Pakistan, and the United States. [14] FOSA has been involved with several other campaigns, including opposition to the Iraq War [3], the 2002 Godhra riots [15], Pakistani military actions in Balochistan, Pakistan [16] [17], and the 2006 bombings in Varanasi, India [3], as well as support for victims of the Bhopal disaster [18], and advocacy for the civil rights of immigrants to the United States. [19] FOSA has also specifically focused on highlighting art and activism linked to social change movements in Pakistan, including issues like peace with India, ending the Indo-Pak nuclear race [20] [21], opposition to censorship [22] and ending religious intolerance [23] [24].


FOSA was a prominent participant in the Californian Hindu textbook controversy [25] [26], in which it joined a number of other groups including Christian missionaries [5], Ambedkarites, a Tamil group supporting LTTE [6], in successfully petitioning California's Curriculum Commission to reject edits to California's 6th grade textbook curriculum on Hinduism and India, as suggested by two American Hindu organizations. (See main article Californian Hindu textbook controversy for details.) Anupama Mandavilli, an active participant in the hearings, stated that claiming Hindus are native to India is part of the Hindutva agenda. She also claimed that "The edits represent the systematic erasure of women and Dalits in India," insisting that the caste system still "defines life in India" and gender discrimination thrives." [7]


Friends of South Asia is frequently criticized by Hindu Indian and Indian-American nationalists, who allege that it is an anti-Hindu and leftist organization, and is a supporter of anti-Indian, Islamist and Communist causes. It has also been criticized by Pakistani nationalists for alleged bias toward Indian Hindus [27], and by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. [28]

  • In October 2001, Friends of South Asia joined a group of Pakistan students and picketed a lecture by the deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto at Stanford University, who supported U.S . efforts to fight the Taliban, charging her with corruption; Bhutto publicly disputed the charges. [28].Benazir Bhutto, an elected Prime Minister, was deposed by the Pakistani military in 1988. Her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, an elected Prime Minister of Pakistan was deposed by Pakistani Military and hanged in 1974. The critics of FOSA suggest that this protest suggests that FOSA's sympathies have been with the Islamists.

  • On May 15, 2005, FOSA organized a San Francisco march for peace in support of the 2005 India-Pakistan peace march, with the help of seven local co-sponsors, including the Pakistan American Alliance (PAA).[29] An anonymous critic pointed out that the Pakistan American Alliance's website included an image of a man holding a placard reading "Allah will destroy the terrorist state of India" [30] [31] at an October 2004 rally in New York City co-organized by the New York chapter of PAA. [32] FOSA responded by deleting references to the Pakistan American Alliance from their website, and issuing an update stating that they were disturbed by the photo and had been unaware of PAA's politics, which were contrary to their own. [33]

  • Critics of FOSA believe that its cooperation with a Sindhi group about the obscure Belochistan uprising is intended to deflect criticism about FOSA's association with groups that seek withdrawal of Indian forces in Kashmir (facing Islamic militancy) and in Nagaland and Tripura region (facing Christian fundamentalist militancy).


  1. ^ Ashfaque Swapan. " South Asian Community Rallies to Provide Earthquake Relief", India West, October 14, 2005.

  2. ^ AH Cemendtaur. " Learning the ropes of peace activism ", Peace News, May 2003.

  3. ^ a  b c Friends of South Asia . Friends of South Asia (FOSA). URL accessed on 2006- 04-11.

  4. ^ a  b Raj Jayadev. " Indian-Pakistani peace gathering", San Francisco Chronicle, January 6 , 2002 .

  5. ^ iFaqeer. Bayosphere. URL accessed on 2006- 05-02.

  6. ^ a  b Suzanne Lee. " Bay Area South Asians Kick-off Monthly Global Peace Vigils ", AsianWeek, February 1, 2002.

  7. ^ Ryan Kim, Matthew B. Stannard and Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writers. " Kashmir tension watched closely by Bay relatives ", San Francisco Chronicle, June 2, 2002.

  8. ^ " Friends Of South Asia & Qaumantri Punjabi Bhaichara", ACHA Peace Bulletin, February 6, 2002.

  9. ^ Hina Wyne. " Friends of S. Asia Not Willing to Give up Hope", Pakistan Link, June 14 , 2002 .

  10. ^ a  b " The Terrorists Are Here! Not! ", Metro Santa Cruz, April 12 , 2006.

  11. ^ " After Letter, Prof Gets Hate E-mail", The Harvard Crimson, March 14 , 2006.

  12. ^ Charles Burress. " Hindu groups lose fight to change textbooks / But decision by state Board of Education is supported by some Hindu Americans", San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2006.

  13. ^ Jonathan Jones. " Hindu group's motion to block texts denied", Fremont Argus, April 26, 2006.

  14. ^ " Bush's visit disappoints South Asian group", Daily Times, March 9, 2006.

  15. ^ About Coalition Against Genocide. Coalition Against Genocide. URL accessed on 2006 -04-25 .

  16. ^ Please Help Stop the Military Operation and Massacre in Balochistan. Friends of South Asia & The World Sindhi Institute. URL accessed on 2006- 04-24.

  17. ^ Major Rally in Washington, D.C., to Call Attention to Atrocities in Balochistan Province of Pakistan. The World Sindhi Institute. URL accessed on 2006 -04-27.

  18. ^ 20th Anniversary Film Screening & Discussion . Students for Bhopal. URL accessed on 2006- 04-25.

  19. ^ Public Statement from South Asian Organizations Regarding Immigration Reform. South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow. URL accessed on 2006- 04-25.

  20. ^ Theatre Without Frontiers: Video clips and discussion with Pakistani Playwright Shahid Nadeem. Ekta. URL accessed on 2006- 04-24.

  21. ^ Ras H. Siddiqui. " Pakistan & India under the Nuclear Shadow ", Pakistan Link, September 13, 2002 .

  22. ^ Ali Hasan Cemendtaur. " FOSA Celebrates Success of 'Suppressed Voices'", Pakistan Link, January 5 , 2005 .

  23. ^ Human Rights in South Asia: Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan. Friends of South Asia (FOSA). URL accessed on 2006- 04-24.

  24. ^ Ali Hasan Cemendtaur. " Traveling Film South Asia 2004 Comes to San Francisco Bay Area", Pakistan Link, March 4, 2004.

  25. ^ Vrinda Normand. " Battling the Past: Indian parents and scholars go to war over how Hindu history is taught in California schools", Metroactive, February 1 , 2006.

  26. ^ Speak Out Against the Hindutva Assault on California's History Textbooks . Friends of South Asia (FOSA). URL accessed on 2006- 04-11.

  27. ^ Syed Adeeb. " Indian-Hindu TV Channels Promote Hindu-India",, January 5 , 2004 .

  28. ^ a  b Meredith Alexander. " Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, expresses support for war effort", Stanford Report, October 19, 2001.

  29. ^ Ind-Pak Peace Solidarity March in San Francisco. Friends of South Asia (FOSA). URL accessed on 2006- 04-11.

  30. ^ "Allah will destroy the terrorist state of India". AID (Association for India's Development) Documents Repository. URL accessed on 2006- 04-11.

  31. ^ "PAA co-sponsors Kashmiris rally in New York". AID (Association for India's Development) Documents Repository . URL accessed on 2006- 04-25.

  32. ^ PAA co-sponsors Kashmiris rally in New York. Pakistan American Alliance. URL accessed on 2006- 04-25.

  33. ^ Statement of Clarification by the Friends of South Asia, on Pakistan American Alliance's co-sponsorship. Friends of South Asia (FOSA). URL accessed on 2006 -04-11.

  34. ^ Patrick Leahy. " Leftist speaker sparks debate", Stanford Daily, April 7, 2006.

  35. ^ " Letters to the editor", Stanford Daily, April 11, 2006.

  36. ^ " Letters to the editor", Stanford Daily, April 12, 2006.

  37. ^ " Letters to the editor", Stanford Daily, April 10, 2006.

  38. ^ " Retractions & Corrections", Stanford Daily, April 11 , 2006.

  39. ^ " Apology", Stanford Daily, April 10, 2006.


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