‘Arab states finally woken up to persecution of Muslims in India’

Were the powerful Arab states that did billion dollar deals with India blinded by the persecution and Islamophobia faced by Muslims there? asks prominent Islamic scholar, Shaykh Rafeek Hassan of Durban.

With India facing a diplomatic fallout with the Muslim world over blasphemous remarks made by two officials about the Prophet (SAW) and his wife Ayesha (RA), a prominent Durban Islamic scholar Shaykh Rafeek Hassan says this incident has finally woken up the Gulf and Arab states about the tirade of Islamophobia and persecution of Muslims by the BJP-led Government.

At least five Arab nations have lodged official protests against India, and Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan also reacted strongly to the comments made by two prominent spokespeople from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Anger has poured out on social media, and calls for a boycott of Indian goods have surfaced in some Arab nations. At home, it has led to protests against Modi’s party in some parts of the country.

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The influential 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said in a statement that the insults came in the context of an increasingly intense “atmosphere of hatred towards Islam in India”.

The controversial remarks follow increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists who have been emboldened by Modi’s regular silence about such attacks since he was first elected in 2014.

Shaykh Rafeek Hassan told Al Qalam: “It took the Indian Government’s BJP’s national spokeswoman Nupur Sharma’s and Delhi media operation head Naveen Kumar Jindal’s blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Mohammed [ Peace be upon him] to wake up the Arab and Gulf States on Islamophobia in India.

“Where were they sleeping all along? Did they not know that this anti-Muslim BJP kettle has been brewing and simmering for years? Were they not aware of the tirade of Islamophobia and persecution (including killings) of the Muslim and Christian minorities by the BJP government?”

“I think many will ask ‘how come?’ Where does this Islamophobia stem from given that since its independence in 1947, India adopted a constitution based on pluralism and democracy and freedom and protection for all including minorities? In 2014 the BJP defeated the Congress Party in the elections and has been ruling India since then. The BJP is a right-wing Hindu extremist party whose policy is Hindu nationalism called Hindutva which believes that India belongs to Hindus only. They also believe in the superiority of Hindus over Muslims and Christians and others. It sounds very similar to Zionism that believes in superiority over the Palestinians.

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Concerning the current controversy, India’s ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, responded by saying it’s a few ‘fringe elements’ within the party, and did not represent the views of the Indian government. Well the facts show the opposite.

“Recently BJP’s leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tried to make connections between Muslim figures from India’s distant history and current day ‘terrorism and religious extremism’ implying that India’s Muslims should be held responsible and punished for the alleged crimes committed by their “ancestors”

“The BJP-affiliated Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma last year, called the killing of two Muslims, including a minor, by police officers during a forced eviction drive in Assam “an act of revenge” for past “martyrdom” of Hindus”.

Shaykh Hassan said under the BJP’s rule, several campaigns have been started to ensure that mosques and other places sacred to Muslims across the country are handed over to Hindus who claim that these places were originally Hindu. The list of atrocities is too many and reaching genocidal proportions.

“Of course, there is also The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which discriminates against Muslims as it makes faith a basis for granting Indian citizenship. The BJP government not only passed this anti-Muslim law but also allowed its supporters to target Indian Muslims protesting against it.

“This is not the actions of some ‘fringe elements’ within the current BJP Government but a deliberate, calculated and well-orchestrated policy of ethnic cleansing, It’s time for the Arab, Muslim and citizens of the world to unite against extremist ideologies based on a false sense of superiority wherever it arises for we are all equal in the house of the human family.”

Following the outrage, leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party scrambled to instruct officials to be “extremely cautious” when talking about religion on public platforms after derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad drew protests from Muslim nations.

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