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US axe for urine query

Washington, Dec. 19 (PTI): A Michigan official has been forced to quit after her provocative query on Hindus sparked outrage.

During a debate over the planned expansion of a temple in Metro Detroit on December 3, Catherine Johnson, 71, stunned residents by claiming that neighbours had told her several women urinated outside Shri Swaminarayan Mandir during its 2000 groundbreaking. She asked if it was some sort of ritual, the Detroit News reported.

A defensive Johnson said she was quitting not because she said anything wrong but because she was asked to. “It was a valid question. It was something that a few citizens contacted me at home about.”

But many Indians said the question was an unfair characterisation of their culture and a lie. Others termed it “racist” and complained that it underscored stereotypes about cleanliness in India.

“There is no ritual like that. Our religion says we are not supposed to urinate or spit in public. It desecrates other people’s property just like in any other religion,” Mukesh Patel, 56, was quoted as saying.

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