The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has confirmed that Muslim activist Raquel Evita Saraswati, who had claimed to be of Latino, Arab and South Asian descent before being purportedly revealed as white earlier this month, has resigned from her position at the organization.
In an email sent to USA Today
before Saraswati’s resignation, AFSC spokesperson Layne Mullett confirmed that Saraswati was intending on leaving AFSC, a Quaker-founded service organization that advocates global justice. Prior to the recent controversy, Saraswati served as the organization’s chief equity and inclusion officer.
“Raquel Saraswati, who is facing public allegations that she misrepresented her background and past associations, has informed us of her intention to separate from the organization,” Mullett wrote, adding that the organization supported Saraswati’s decision, which the spokesperson described as “difficult” and “deeply personal.”
Although she has already handed in her resignation, her profile on AFSC’s website is still up. The profile states that she joined the organization in June 2021. On Feb. 10, Saraswati’s background was questioned after an open letter drafted by a “group of individuals who care deeply about AFSC” accused her of “cultural vulturism.”
The open letter claimed that Saraswati had undergone several name changes from Rachel Elizabeth Seidel to Raquel Evita Seidel to her current name. It also claimed that Saraswati’s family has confirmed she is not of Arab, Latino and South Asian descent, as she has previously declared.
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“I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she. I’m German and British, and her father was Calabrese Italian. She’s chosen to live a lie, and I find that very, very sad,” Perone told the publication.
Saraswati previously served as an adviser and confidant to local nonprofits while also advocating Muslim and LGBTQ-plus causes.
She is the recipient of several awards and titles, including Woman of the Year from the National Organization for Women’s Philadelphia chapter and “Rad Girl of the Year” from the nonprofit organization Rad Girls.
Saraswati also served on Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs and appeared as a commentator about Muslim extremism for Fox News, Newsmax and other conservative media outlets.
Saraswati, who has yet to officially address her resignation, reportedly announced on her now-private Facebook account that she would “provide answers to the recent discussion,” adding, “I am currently taking the time to get to where I can answer in a way that is most helpful and thorough.”
She has claimed to be of Arab, Latino and South Asian descent for over a decade now.
In a 2004 Boston Globe article, Saraswati, who used the surname Seidel at the time, said she wanted a wedding that respected her “Arab and Latin traditions.” Around two years later, an article published in the India New England News referenced Saraswati’s supposed South Asian heritage.