Asad Ali

Religion is the most sensitive part of every nation. Therefore, one must be careful while commenting on the religious values and beliefs of others. There should be an element of respect while discussing these matters.

The sanctity of every religion must be protected. No one has the right to pass derogatory remarks against anyone’s religious beliefs and values.

But, unfortunately, there are few countries in the world where there has been a growing trend of using religion as a political tool to accomplish political objectives. Apart from that, there is growing Islamophobia amongst the masses of those countries creating a divide, unrest, and anger amongst each other across the globe.

India is leading the race in this regard, and we have seen many such instances since the inception of Modi’s government back in 2014.

There is no place for minorities in Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu Rashtra. Religious festivals of non-Hindus are under threat. No one can openly exercise his/ her religious rights, which are given to them by the Indian constitution.

BJP’s leaders are out and openly passing derogatory remarks against other religions. It is pertinent to mention here that they are doing this at the behest of the Indian government.

Likewise, Indian leaders’ preferred not to even condemn the punishable condemn of its senior party workers.

A recent wave of religious fanaticism has engulfed the entire globe, its magnitude no less in India, which has been witnessing the same trend.

The Indian state is once again in limelight due to the derogatory remarks by the ruling party BJP’s members Nurpur Sharma and Naveen Jindal on the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Anger is spreading all over the world including in the Middle East over disparaging comments made by an official of India’s ruling party about the Prophet Muhammad, with various countries summoning New Delhi’s envoy and demanding a public apology.

PM Modi did not take any action against Sharma and Jindal even as a chorus of diplomatic outrage began, with Qatar and Kuwait summoning their Indian ambassadors to protest.

After that, the BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal, and issued a rare statement saying it strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities.

It is pertinent to mention here that Premier Modi’s ban on its party member was made  after an unexpected and severe reaction from India’s friendly Arab states including KSA and UAE. But, that doesn’t mean the Modi government has accepted its fault. The apology was made to face-saving from the Gulf states to secure their economic interests.

The remarks against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have triggered massive outrage not only within India but across the globe. Tens of thousands of Indian Muslims were out on the streets, chanting slogans against BJP leaders while calling for actions against them.

The protests are ongoing across India and turned violent. Many people have been killed so far in the protests. Indian police, at the behest of Home Minister Amit Shah, are arresting Muslim protestors and using force to suppress them.

Likewise, the anger increased in the Middle East and the Arab world this time around over and many states beckoned New Delhi’s envoy and demanded a public apology.

Over the past few days, the governments of West Asia and South Asia issued stinging statements condemning the comments. Indian turn toward narrow-mindedness and communalism is finally provoking a retort from the world.

Muslims have been lynched and beaten by mobs, women have been harassed for wearing Hijab, Mosques have been burnt by the supporters of Modi, and even the judiciary has been accused of supporting Modi by ruling in his favour of banning Hijab in schools.

In other words, Modi has no regard for Muslims in India. What made Modi suddenly worry about the reaction to repression towards Muslims? This is because of the threat to the Indian economic interests. India cannot afford to damage its ties with the Arab World at this critical juncture.

The BJP’s decision to ban the membership of its political workers is due to the importance of India’s 6.5 million expatriate population in the Gulf countries. Another reason is the historic trade ties with the region India is the largest importer of oil from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Apart from this India’s exports to GCC were worth the US $28.06 billion in 2020-21. According to an estimate, the bilateral trade during this period was USS 87.36 billion.

This is high time for the international community to take notice of Indian state-sponsored religious extremism to instigate religious sentiments of people.

Likewise, Islamophobia is rooted in colonialism and is deployed as a political tactic and serves to silence and stigmatize Muslim voices. India should seriously introspect its entrenched anti-minority mindset being destructively spawned by the RSS-BJP regime and discard state-sponsored discriminatory policies.

The  global community, world organizations, human rights watchdogs, and other leading global forums must put pressure on the Indian government to ensure freedom of religious practices in the country. There must be a global drive against the growing Islamophobic trends in the countries like India and the use of religion for mere political gains.

 

*The writer is an Islamabad independent analyst.

**The Diplomatic Insight does not take any position on issues and the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight and its staff. 

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