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 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,
COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking.
Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood.
We are in this together: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) April 19, 2020
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.