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May 17, 2020

Muslim bashing generates anti-India sentiments

Islamabad

May 17, 2020

The Arab world is now strongly criticising the anti-Muslim propaganda being carried out on the social media, especially by Indian expatriates in the Gulf. A Canadian firm has also stood up against an Islamophobic tweet. On April 18, the OIC had issued a statement, urging India to take urgent steps to "stop the growing tide of Islamophobia" in the country. Kuwait also expressed its "deep concern" over the treatment of India's minority Muslims and asked the OIC to take up the issue. "Did those who commit crimes against humanity against Muslims in India and violate their rights think that Muslims in the world will remain silent about these crimes and do not move politically, legally and economically against them?" a statement by the general secretariat of the Kuwait Council of Ministers said.

Why is there suddenly a storm over an issue that has consumed the soul of India, a monster that has taken over the country and shaken its secular foundations? As it is, India has been taken over by the Hindutva ideology over the past few years ever since the Modi Sarkar was sworn-in in 2014. The storm of fascist ideology rocked India and its waves started reverberating across the world. But in India while the anti-minorities bashing and their lynching have largely gone unnoticed, even welcomed, the world is not turning a blind eye towards the anti-Muslim tirade on social media by Indian expatriates around the world.

In Canada, an Indian expatriate Ravi Hooda, a real estate agent who was based in Ontario, strongly reacted and unnecessarily responded to Brampton mayor Patrick Brown’s tweet, which was made with regard to Azaan exemption, which besides church bells was now being extended to all faiths. Hooda was slammed by Canada’s Anti-Hate Network, terminated by the real estate company and removed as local School Council Chair. His employer stated: “We do not share nor support the views of Mr. Hooda. We can confirm he has been terminated and is no longer affiliated with RE/MAX. Multiculturalism & diversity are some of the best qualities in our communities, and we are committed to upholding these values in all that we do.”

Reaction in the Arab world has coincided with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report listing India among “countries of particular concern” that would be subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records. The commission observed: “In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault.” On the other hand, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Kuwaiti government, a royal princess of the UAE and many Arab activists slammed the Islamophobic hate speech by expatriate Indians.

Those who were especially identified for promoting anti-Muslim bigotry were Dubai-based Indian Saurabh Upadhyay, who had asked Muslims to "accept they were the source of the pandemic" and called for the death of India’s Tableeghi Jamaat members calling them as "terrorists". Princess Hend al-Qassimi, a member of the UAE royal family, reportedly warned "openly racist and discriminatory" Indians in the Gulf that they "will be fined and made to leave" the country.

Comprehending the gravity of situation, a comment on the anti-Muslim outbursts, carried by an Indian website stated: “The factual accuracy, and history, of hate mongers may be as bad as their logic, but they all manage to achieve the intended result – violence against Muslims.

“If it passes muster in the homeland, if there are no repercussions here, why not replicate it elsewhere — or so goes the belief. This bigotry is so normalised that many Indians working and living in the Gulf countries, a predominantly Muslim majority region, see no problem in spreading this vitriol. But unlike previous occasions when the Gulf countries had taken a customary stand on targeting of Muslims in India, the Arab world is more vocal and proactive this time. The fact that this hate is being spewed by the Indian diaspora working in these countries has also hit home. It may not bode well for the Indian economy, because expatriates from the region send a significant amount of remittances back home. India has held the top position as recipient of international remittances for a few years now, with the Gulf nations alone contributing more than 50 per cent of the total.”

Meanwhile, Sumit Ganguly and Nicolas Blarel, two academics in a piece on a US website recently noted: “ The Modi government’s active diplomatic outreach to the Gulf states and the increasing acknowledgment of India’s growing economic opportunities had, until recently, shielded India from official criticism over the discriminatory nature of India’s new citizenship law, as well as mounting reports of anti-Muslim violence following Modi’s reelection in May 2019. But blaming Muslims for the spread of the coronavirus in India seems to be a step too far for important actors in the Gulf—and could even upend its relations with the region. One key factor is that India’s approach toward Muslims is no longer simply an internal matter if its citizens based in the Gulf also promote Islamophobic rhetoric.”

All in all, thanks to biased outbursts of Indian expatriates, Pakistan’s stance over Modi’s anti-Muslim policies and Hindutva is now being vindicated around the world.