Posts Tagged ‘Muslims in India’

Muslims in India scapegoated for the pandemic

June 21, 2020

Muslims in India are being accused of deliberately spreading the coronavirus.  By stirring up prejudice against India’s largest religious minority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi solidifies his own political power and escapes blame for the spread of the disease.

The treatment of Muslims in India is a major human rights crisis.  Modi advocates an Indian nationalism based on the Hindu religion.  He says Muslims cannot be patriotic because their holy places are located outside India.

Nationalism based on religion is dangerous because it tells people that they should regard themselves, collectively, as sacred.  They are asked to, in effect, worship themselves.  They are asked to give the nation the kind of unconditional loyalty that would be due to a superhumanly wise and good infinite being, and to exclude those not part of the nation from human sympathy.

Modi’s government has drawn up a new refugee law that admits fast-tracks admission Christians, Buddhists and other types of believes, but excludes Muslims. It has suspended self-government in Kashmir, the only majority-Muslim state under Indian rule.

It also is drawing up a new citizenship list, and asking Indians to provide proof of citizenship—a big hardship for poor people.  Muslims fear it may be aimed at them.  There have been a number of lynchings of Muslims, mainly on suspicion of having eaten beef.

Modi was chief minister of Gujarat state in 2002 during a three-day anti-Muslim riot.  By some estimates, as many as 2,000 were killed.  Mobs engaged in vandalism, looting and rape, 230 mosques and 274 Muslim shrines were destroyed and thousands were made homeless.

Modi was barred from entering the United States in 2005 under the International Religious Freedom Act, which denies visas to officials guilty of “severe violations of religious freedom.”  He is reportedly the only foreigner barred under this law.

Since being elected Prime Minister of India in 2014, he was welcomed by both President Obama and President Trump.

The U.S. government is trying to form an anti-Chinese alliance, with India, Japan and Australia the key members.

Because of this, we Americans are likely to hear a lot about the persecuted Muslim Uighurs in China’s far west Xinjiang province and very little about Muslims in India.

The Uighurs, like the Tibetans, are being forcibly assimilated into the Chinese culture by brutal means.  But in Modi’s India, the Muslims will never be assimilated.  They will be forever outcasts and targets of persecution, like Jews in Tsarist Russia, African-Americans in the USA during the Jim Crow era or Central Asian migrants in the Russia of today.


The Rise of Narendra Modi by Zahir Mohammad for Boston Review (2013)

Inside Delhi: beaten, lynched and burned alive by Hannah Ellis-Petersen for The Guardian.

How Indian Muslims are being scapegoated for the coronavirus by Namrata Kolachalam for Slate.

India’s treatment of Muslims and migrants puts lives at risk during COVID-19 by Jay Ramasubramanyan for The Conversation.

The plight of Muslims in Narendra Modi’s India

December 13, 2019

Muslims in the USA are subject to unfair prejudices and unfair treatment, but, all things considered, I’d rather be a Muslim in this country than a Coptic Christian in Egypt, a Baha’i in Iran or a Muslim in India or Burma.

Narendra Modi

India’s 200 million Muslims are just under 15 percent of the population.  Hindus are about 80 percent.  Yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convinced a majority of the voters that Muslims comprise some kind of existential threat to the majority.

India’s newly-enacted refugee law bars admission of Muslims, but allows refugees of other religions.  Proponents argue that victims of religious persecution in neighboring Muslim countries deserve special consideration.

The problem with that argument is the context.  Modi’s government is explicitly anti-Muslim.  The law would help dilute the Muslim populations in India’s border areas and In Kashmir.

There is an overall pattern of discrimination against Muslims and of excluding Muslims from protection of the law.  The world justly condemned the USA for its treatment of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era.  Modi’s government also deserves to be condemned.

Update [12/24/2019]  India’s new policy is worse than I thought, as Ian Welsh pointed out on his web log.

In addition to barring Muslim refugees, it calls (in practice) for purging of Muslims from citizenship rolls, much as African-Americans were purged from voter registration rolls in the start of the Jim Crow era.

Welsh pointed out that India faces a future refugee crisis as Muslim-majority Bangladesh goes under water due to climate change.  Bangladesh’s fleeing millions will be killed or put in internment camps.


Blood and soil in Narendra Modi’s India by Dexter Filkins for the New Yorker.

The Coming Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide in India by Ian Welsh.  [Added 12/24/2019]

The Rape of India’s Soul by Jayati Ghosh for Project Syndicate.  [Added 12/15/2019]

India military deployed and protests rage against citizenship bill by Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan and Omar Khan for CNN.

The Islamophobic roots of population control efforts in India by Kunal Purohit for Al Jazeera.

And in neighboring Burma –

Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Against Rohingya Genocide Accusations by Marlise Simons and Hannah Beech for the New York Times.

Free speech and burning Korans

May 17, 2011

The Rev. Terry Jones, an obscure Florida pastor with 50-odd followers and a cigarette lighter, has made himself into a world figure by burning a Koran.  He was denounced by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General David Petreaus, not to mention Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai.  They blame him for Muslim riots from Pakistan to Dearborn, Mich., and they say he puts American lives at risk.

Rev. Terry Jones

Jones is a malicious fool, and the image of burning books is offensive to anybody who believes in freedom and reason.  Book burning conjures up images of Nazi Germany, with its bonfires of “un-German” books, or the former Roman Catholic Inquisition, which burned books (including Korans) as well as people.

But here’s the thing.  Jones has not killed anyone.  He has not threatened to kill anyone.  He has merely exercised his Constitutional right of free speech, the same Constitution that protects American Muslims against religious persecution, in an unwise way.  There is no “Muslim rage” exception to the First Amendment.

If some Christian or Jewish Americans attacked some random Muslims because of their rage over the 9/11 attacks, their rage would not be an excuse for their crime.  No matter how angry you get, you are still legally and morally responsible for your own actions.  In the same way Muslims who attack random Americans or Christians are morally responsible for their actions.  Many of us Americans are angered at the burning of the American flag, but we refrain from going on murderous rampages.

If the Rev. Terry Jones poked a bear with a stick or threw a stone into a wasps’ nest, he would be responsible for what happened next.  Bears and wasps are not morally responsible for their actions. Human beings are.  They have a choice as to how to react.  The best way to deal with people like him would be to ignore him – to deprive him of the attention he craves.

But as long as we’re talking about doing things that enrage people, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus between them are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Muslim noncombatants, as a predictable byproduct of war operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In my opinion, their actions have done more to enrage Muslims than all the fundamentalist Protestant Christian preachers in the world put together.

Think about it.  What would be more likely to send you into a rage – (1) the reduction of your home town or city to rubble by a foreign occupying army, (2) the killing of loved ones by a misguided missile or by a nervous trooper at a roadblock, (3) the disappearance of somebody you know into a secret prison for no known reason, or (4) a YouTube video of the desecration of a sacred symbol of your religion by somebody on the other side of the world?