Growing Tide of Islamophobia in India and Diplomatic Repercussions

The worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus was given an anti-Muslim twist in India under official ‎patronage and spread by electronic, print, and social media, but nobody had guessed that it can create ‎a diplomatic furore and threat our sweet relations turn sour with OIC and GCC countries.‎

Taking note of the intense Islamophobic tirade by ‘Hindutva’ fanatics the “‎Organisation of Islamic ‎Cooperation” – (OIC) and several VIPs from gulf countries reacted in quick succession causing concern ‎for NaMo establishment.‎

OIC, a 57-member orgnisation of oil-producing Muslim countries, now based in Jeddah (KSA), raised ‎the issue of Muslim’s stigmatisation for Coronavirus spread and stressed the need to stop the “growing ‎tide of Islamophobia.” OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights ‎Commission (OIC-IPHRC) tweeted ‎on 19th April (Sunday).

‎”[We] urge the Indian Govt to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide ‎of Islamophobia in India and ‎protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim ‎minority as per its obligations under international Human ‎Rights law.”‎

The same day the OIC Secretariat said, “The General Secretariat of OIC expresses deep concern ‎following recent media accounts of rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia within political ‎and media circles and on mainstream and social media platforms, where Indian Muslim minority is ‎blamed for spreading the coronavirus in the country.”‎

‎“The OIC General Secretariat expresses its rejection of the targeting of Muslims anywhere. The current ‎COVID-19 world situation is such that it requires greater efforts, more active cooperation and ‎solidarity mechanisms worldwide, and stronger mutual aid among all citizens of the same country” said ‎a press statement.‎

Earlier Warnings and Denials

Earlier to OIC, several bodies including UN Human Rights Commission, the US Commission on ‎International Religious Freedom, and International media had raised this issue. On March 30, the UN ‎Human Rights Commission had issued a statement ‎against the “exploitation” of coronavirus-related ‎fears by groups and ‎politicians to “scapegoat minorities.”‎  The UN Resident Coordinator in India ‎Renata Dessallien had also alarmed, “It has to be understood that it’s not the fault of the person who ‎contracted the disease and that they should not be blamed. The issue of stigmatization stems from ‎fear, prejudice, divisiveness, sometimes from racism, and from the worst side of human nature. We ‎must do everything to minimize stigmatization, if not eradicate it altogether.”‎

The response of India remained overloaded of denials and labelling the ground reports as “misguided.” ‎After OIC expression of dismay, the MEA spokesperson again said, ‎“As if its peremptory commentary ‎on religious freedom in India is not ‎enough, the USCIRF is now spreading misguided reports,” the MEA ‎spokesperson said.‎

‎“What misguided reports?”- Since mid- Feb, hundreds of hair-raising visuals, audios, and ground ‎reports in national and international media have produced un-deniable evidences of hate-speech, ‎bigotry, bashing of Muslims and Islamophobia. The world is not blind to the stoic silence of the leaders ‎in Government, over these happenings, and the insults heaped upon the popular public sentiments on ‎CAA-protesters, followed by sponsored attacks on the community in the National Capital at a time of ‎US President’s visit. The tactics to divert attention, by denial of the undeniable, do not work in this 21st ‎century of IT technologies. It is why the PMO took another route.‎

India-OIC Relations

India has developed friendly relations with rich oil-producing gulf countries. We need them to invest in ‎our projects. After India, under the pressure of US, stopped oil imports from Iran, we also excessively ‎depend now upon their supplies. But the ‎“Corona-jihad”‎ boggy under the divisive “Hindutva” politics ‎had created cracks and damaged India’s image as ‘a liberal secular developing nation.’ Taking note of ‎the episode, P.M. office tweeted same evening,‎

We welcome the carefully chosen words. Please pray in the holy month of Ramazan, that none of ‎these words disappears like fallen stars in the skies, but seed gardens of goodwill.‎

Unfortunately, the intervention of a Union Minister did worst. He said, “India is heaven for Muslims.” A ‎UAE activist responded, “Taking inspiration from what the Union Minister has said, I think we in the ‎Middle East should now start treating our “minorities” (Hindus) from India the same way the Muslims ‎are being treated in India. We should make the same ‘heaven’ for them.”‎

We plead this reaction should not take the shape of action. Muslim conduct protects its minorities. ‎Islam ordains us never to hurt a person to take revenge from his community men. OIC and GCC ‎countries should continue to maintain the high standards in treating NRIs. However damagers of the ‎fabric should be treated according to the rules.‎

Sure, we love our India, but stand against turning the country into a Furno; the “heaven” into a “hell”. ‎The blaze when spreads do not recognize the houses by the faith of the owners.‎

Storm on Social Media

It prompted a storm of noted person’s messages on social media after some people noted abusive ‎Islamophobic tweets by a well-placed Dubai based Indian millionaire Saurabh Upadhyay and ‎complained to the police that ‘Saurabh is running a Hindu-Muslim agenda and serving inflammatory ‎material’.‎

Tacking note of his two extremely derogatory tweets, an educated princes of UAE Hend Faisal al-‎Qasimi tweeted, “Anyone found to be racist or discriminatory in the UAE will be fined, ‎along with being ‎asked to leave the country.

She said, “The royal family undoubtedly considers the Indian people as friends, but ‎nobody’s immorality ‎can be welcomed. Many people have come to earn their livelihood in the UAE, ‎but if you start cursing ‎this land then there is no place for you here.”‎ ‎

In one of his tweets, he wrote, “Muslims are living 1400 years behind ‎the world.” He also used abusive ‎language and wrote, “Muslims should stop licking terrorist Maulana Saad’s bottom.”‎

‎She told the Wire’s Arfa Khanam, “‎This is how genocides are born. They first begin by hate that grows ‎in the ‎heart, comes to the tongue, and eventually turns into the genocide,” Al Qassimi said. “I’m sorry ‎about the Islamophobia that is growing on ‎in India, but hatred is not welcome in my country.”‎

The Telegraph Online quoted her, “There is no winner if this turns aggressive. We have to follow the ‎Nelson Mandela-Martin ‎Luther-Gandhi way of doing things,” said Al Qassemi. “We don’t need another ‎Hitler.”‎

She said, “‎I noticed an Indian making fun of my religion, my prophet, my country, and its ‎achievements, ‎ridiculed it’s accomplishments and was threatening us on our land. I was shocked and I ‎felt ‎violated,” she said.‎

Al Qassemi said that many Indians went after her, claiming she was defending the Tablighi ‎Jamaat, who ‎were blamed for spreading the virus. “To be honest, I’ve never heard of them ‎‎(Tablighi Jamaat). I ‎wasn’t defending a group in India. I was defending humans ‎being targeted,” she said.‎

‎”What happened to India?” She said, implying that this wasn’t the country she knew. ‎‎”Hinduism is one ‎of the most peaceful religions.‎

‎ “The ruling family is friends with Indians, but as a royal your rudeness is not welcome. All employees ‎are paid to work, no one comes for free. You make your bread and butter from this land which you ‎scorn and your ridicule will not go unnoticed,” Princess Qassimi wrote.‎

She was followed by several other eminent personalities. We are alarmed for the damage done. At ‎least six persons, including Saurabh have since lost their jobs. Many more may fall in line. It has alerted ‎the authorities and social accounts may play a role in fresh recruitments.‎

In the meanwhile authorities in India have started taking note of disturbing trends of stigmatising ‎Muslims. If implemented without biased, which is a far-distant opportunity, it will certainly help to ‎dilute the present venomous atmosphere.‎