ANTI MUSLIM RHETORIC IN INDIA



In India, 2022 has not been kind to Muslims, with the new year beginning with an attack on Muslim women by auctioning them online via the “BulliBai App,” where their morphed photos and auction rates were made public to insult prominent journalists, activists, authors, and actors. The app was taken down following the outrage and protest, and a few accused were arrested and later released on bail. However, the story does not end there.

Hijab issue in Karnataka was elevated to the level of national importance, with teenagers taking part and raising slogans against Muslim girls wearing hijab. Later, the HC issued its ruling against the Muslim women, ordering them to follow the institution’s uniform code. The instances of hatred against Muslims did not stop here but gave anti-social elements a lot of confidence to flaunt their hatred towards Muslims in public, as seen in Tripura, where a procession led by a local leader shouted slogans against the Muslim community in particular. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh government decided to demolish and bulldoze the poor’s homes, leaving them stranded on the roads during the scorching summer. Incidents of mosque attacks were also reported in the Jehangirpuri area of Indian capital and an instance of saffron flag hoisting in the Indian state of Bihar. The situation escalated into a clash between Hindus and Muslims, but the arrests on the first list were limited to 23 Muslim men, with no arrests made from the Hindu group that led the procession without permission.

And since the protests erupted in India after the recent incident of obnoxious and offensive remarks against “Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) by BJP Spokesperson Nupur Sharma on a TV debate and the saffron party’s Delhi unit’s former media head Naveen Jindal on Twitter, the woes of Indian Muslims have multiplied.

The lack of action against Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal prompted the Muslim community to take to the streets in protest, demanding that the two be arrested immediately. The protest became violent and resulted in a clash with local authorities. While most protests were peaceful, Ranchi and Allahabad witnessed violent demonstrations. UP CM reportedly officially exhorted officials ‘to take such action against those guilty to set an example so that no one commits a crime or takes the law into their hands in the future. Indian government further directed that the National Security Act, 1980, and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, be invoked against those found guilty of unlawful protests. These remarks have emboldened the police to brutally and unlawfully torture the protesters.

The authorities in UP first arrested and harassed the family of the JNU president and social activist and later bulldozed their home accusing them of violent demonstration in Allahabad against the blasphemous remarks of BJP leaders. In the wake of an ongoing drive of bulldozing houses of Muslims by the Modi government in India, UN Secretary-General also reiterated his call to stop any violence stemming from religious differences across India.

UN Secretary-General stressed against hate speech and urged for full respect of religion, and called against any sort of hate speech or incitement and, of course, a halt to any sort of violence, especially one based on perceived religious differences and hatred. US also condemned remarks by Indian ruling party officials about the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) that have sparked an uproar in Muslim countries.

Now, the UN should use its good offices for raising its voice against anti-Muslim violence across India. The international community should play its due role in safeguarding Muslims who at present are bearing major burden of living with the dream of the late Maulana Abdul Kalam, who promised Muslims prosperity and respect within the framework of democratic secularism. The miseries Muslims are facing in India cannot be ended by only condemnation of the atrocities against them so UN chief, US State Department and Arab world should take practical steps in safeguarding sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Muslims in India

Pakistan has been advocating for an international framework against hate speech, disinformation and balanced approach between fundamental freedoms and responsibilities. The tragic hate crimes and incidents witnessed around the world are a clear verdict against those who justify hate speech, denigration and vilification of religious personalities and symbols, and derogatory remarks to hurt sentiments of minorities, as the fundamental freedom of expression or opinion.

In our own region, the BJP-RSS dispensation, inspired by the extremist “Hindutva” ideology, is embarked upon a campaign to “cleanse” India of all vestiges of its Islamic heritage and make Muslims second-class citizens, even non-citizens. The ensuing hate speech and consequent hate crimes have reached unprecedented levels. The recent calls for Muslim ‘genocide’, state complicity in extra-judicial measures, and state-sponsored grave human rights abuses against Muslim protestors, in the backdrop of hate-driven derogatory remarks made towards the Holy Prophet (PBUH) by the senior BJP officials, are alarming and highly condemnable. The international community must end impunity for perpetrators of such abominable hate speech and crimes. Pakistan will continue to advance the international efforts to protect individuals from hate speech and related xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, violence, and incitement to violence and will reinforce efforts to promote inter-faith and inter-civilizational understanding and harmony.

The writer is a political and media analyst who regularly writes on international political issues