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Islamophobia in India: The Hostile Treatment Against Muslims

In the diverse multi-religious and multicultural nation of India, over 204 million Muslims live in panic and fear due to the Islamophobic hate crimes committed by the followers of the extremist Indian right wing, who see Muslims as economic hardship. In addition to blaming them for crime, violence, and Islamic radicalism. 

Also Read: Religious Fascism in India & Israel: Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Overview

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been the ruling political party of the Republic of India since 2014. This always prompted a wide-ranging debate regarding Hindutva, the religiously rooted nationalist ideology of the right wing.

Originally, Hindutva emerged as a response to British colonization, but now it evolved into a pseudo-nationalism that is constructed on otherization and the superiorization of Hindus as the archetypal Indian citizens to other identities in India.

Also Read: Why Is Indian PM Modi’s Silent About Attacks Against Muslims?

For the purpose of establishing a state dominated by Hindus, Hindutva targets all minority groups in India, including Dalits, liberals, Christians, and feminists. However, Muslims bear the biggest brunt of this hostility as they represent 15% of the Indian population, second only to the greater 80% of Hindus. Additionally, Hindutva views Islam and Muslims as foreign, violent, and hostile to Hindus as well.

Also Read: Hindutva Pop: Anti-Muslim Music in India 

The BJP has always instilled a deep sense of Hindu victimhood in Hindus, all while stoking the otherization of Muslims through fake news, hate speech, reopening old religious wounds, manipulating a servile media, suppressing progressive voices, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups.

Islamophobic Governmental Speech and Actions

Islamophobia has always been present in India’s far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches. In December 2021, he made connections between Muslim figures from India’s distant history and current-day “terrorism and religious extremism” in two of his public speeches, implying that India’s Muslims should be held responsible and punished for the alleged crimes committed by their “ancestors”.

Islamophobia is not only present in his speeches, but also his actions. At the approval of the Prime Minister, the Citizenship Amendment Act Bill was passed in the Indian parliament back in 2019. The CAA Bill enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants including Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian or Parsi immigrants, but specifically excludes Muslims, which in itself sets a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion. 

Also Read: Racism – An integral part of India

This plain systematic discrimation was justified by Modi’s government by arguing that they are only attempting to help non-Muslims who experience religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, by allowing them to stay in India, and that Muslims are the predominant population in those countries.

On that matter, the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, declared back then that, “Not one refugee will have to leave. And we will not allow even one infiltrator to stay back.” Modi’s closest aide did not try to hide nor imply the Islamophobia in his declaration, as he so blatantly demonized Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers by calling them “infiltrators”.

Also Read: 2 Billion Muslims must send a Stern warning to India’s Nazi-like government to stop its anti-Islam discourse

On another occasion for hostile Islamophobic speech by politicians in power, Anil Bhanot, the Hindu Council UK director who refers to himself as “Hindutva”, called Islam a ‘violent religion,’ described Muslims as ‘Shaitans’, and called Islamophobia ‘a weapon of good able human beings’ on his Twitter account. And while the Secretary General of the Council condemned Bhanot’s social media posts and assured that it does not represent their office, no further actions seem to have been taken against Bhanot who remains a director and trustee.

Anil Bhanot's Islamophobic tweets
Anil Bhanot's Islamophobic tweets.

In a similar Islamophobic manner, at a conference in India back in January, Pooja Shakun Pandey, a senior member of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha political party, called on her supporters to annihilate Muslims and “protect” the country. 

Her exact words were, “If 100 of us become soldiers and are prepared to kill 2 million (Muslims), then we will win … protect India, and make it a Hindu nation.” 

Also Read: Global Condemnation Of India Over Anti-Islam Hate Speech

Such clear dehumanization of Muslims and incitement of violence against them was not met by any international rage.

Additionally, back in December 2021, Hindu monk Yati Narsinghanand Giri and several other Hindutva supremacists had called for violence against Muslims at a religious conclave held in the city from Dec 17 to 19. had called upon Hindus to pick up weapons, asserting that the “economic boycott” of Muslims will not work.

He was arrested on January 15th, and was granted bail on February 7th.

The Banning of Hijab in Schools

One of the most recent discriminatory actions against Muslims is the Karnataka High Court banning Hijabi girls from attending classes on the grounds that the hijab was not part of the school uniform. An article on the matter was published on our site, you can read it here

Many heartbreaking scenes from Karnataka of girls pleading at the gates of schools, as they are turned away and denied dignity and education because of their headscarves are going viral on the internet, including this video.

Ban on Muslim Traders

The mistreatment of Muslims in Karnataka does not stop there. Following the hijab verdict in the state, temple administrations imposed a new law that stipulates that Muslim traders and vendors cannot pitch their stalls at the annual fair of Bappanadu Durgaparameshwari Temple near Mangaluru district. Posters barring Muslims –or non-Hindus– are now popped up in various temples across Karnataka.

Also Read: Islam in India: Then and Now!

Multiple political figures have stood up against this discriminatory law, including the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee’s spokesperson, Lakshmana, who claimed that the global reputation of Karnataka is at an all-time low currently due to its Islamophobic actions.

He commented further on the issue and said, “The very development of prohibiting Muslim traders at Hindu festivals and fairs has brought a shame to Karnataka at the global level. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus are working at Islam countries. If the Muslims boycott Hindus, lakhs of people will lose jobs. Who will give jobs to them?”

The Impact of the Kashmir Files

The Hindu ultra nationalist BJP-supported movie, the Kashmir files which talks about the exodus of Hindus – the Pandits – from India administered Kashmir during the early 1990s stands guilty to fuel the decades-long feud between Hindus and Muslims.

The movie is accused of stoking Islamophobic/Hindutva propaganda through historical revisionism, inexact storytelling, and weaponization of hatred against Kashmiri Muslims all with the purpose of legitimizing their violence.

Also Read: The Kashmir Files: Is India Hiding Inconvenient Truths

Putting aside the ongoing debate of whether the movie is accurate or not, the most concerning outcome is the hostile response of the Hindu extremists who are currently encouraging violence against Muslims. This video of a Hindu extremist monk spouting hatred against Muslims and urging Hindus to pick up weapons in a cinema theatre showing the aforementioned movie speaks the loudest about the movie’s harmful, intended impact. 

Hate Crimes Committed Against Muslims

All the pointed-above hate speeches were a mere call-to-action sort of invocation to Hindus to commit hate crimes on Muslims, including:

  • Genocide Watch began warning of genocide in India in 2002, when a three-day violent inter-communal religious riot tore through Gujarat and resulted in the killing of more than 1,000 Muslims.
  • In 2020, Fourteen Delhi mosques were burnt by Hindutva vigilantes in three days.
  • In the first half of 2019, Amnesty International recorded 37 attacks that were directed towards Muslims.

Also Read: Will the second most horrible Holocaust in history take place against the Muslims of India?

Aakar Patel, the former head of Amnesty International India commented on the issue and stated that “The pattern of hate crimes committed against Muslims with seeming impunity – many of them in states where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power – is deeply worrying. Unfortunately, both the Prime Minister and various Chief Ministers have done little to show that they disapprove of this violence.”

  • In November, Hindu hardliners set fire to the home of a Muslim former foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, who had compared the kind of Hindu nationalism that has flourished under Modi with “extremist groups” such as ISIL (ISIS).
  • on Dec 31, 2021, Indian Express, one of the leading newspapers of India, carried an Islamophobic ad on their front page.
  • On January 1, photographs of more than 100 Muslim women appeared on an app called Bulli Bai, with the claim that they were “for sale as maids”. Prominent journalists, actresses and activists were among those who were targeted.
  • Following The Kashmir Files movie, a Kashmiri man was denied accommodation at Delhi Hotel, despite providing ID and other documents.

Experts have warned that this religion-tied community violence could lead to a rampant genocide throughout India. Yet, many influential and “democratic” nations that display themselves as international protectors of human rights are refraining from condemning crimes against religious minorities in India and are opting instead to protect their own interests.