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A petition to remove a statue of Mohandas Gandhi from a Canadian university campus because of his comments about black people has gathered steam.
It was created in the wake of the killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis by police, which intensified discussions of race across most of the Western world.
Jimi Aribido, who created the petition, highlighted Gandhi’s “racist and misogynistic views” as the reasons the Carleton University statue should come down.
“We as an institution cannot claim to champion diversity and seek to eradicate institutionalized racism while symbols like this are still present on our campus,” he explained.
According to a 2015 book by Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, Gandhi – when he lived in South Africa during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – was disparaging of the black population.
He is said to have used abusive epithets (including “savages”) to refer to black people and categorized Indians with the English as “Aryans,” in contrast to Africans.
Gandhi is also known to have shared his bed with naked young women as a means of testing his own commitment to celibacy.
Among those women were his grandnieces, who were in their late teens while Gandhi was an old man.
“Why an institution would continue to yield the statue of an individual who was publicly anti-black, referred to Africans as savages, likening them to animals, and someone who slept naked with his grandniece to "test his willpower" is inexplicable and inexcusable,” Aribido wrote in his petition.
He added: “The time for action is now. However revered a figure he may be in the world of academia, we must acknowledge the pain and discomfort this statue causes our students. We must remove this statue from our campus.”
Aribido added in a later note that he would like to see the statue replaced by someone else from South Asia.