Alwaght- While the coronavirus outbreak across the world causes a variety of problems for people in many countries, in India the government discrimination and crackdown against the Muslim citizens are being pursued even more intensively.
Reports said that last week the Indian government closed down Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement, in the capital New Delhi and accused Muslims of spreading the coronavirus in the country.
Reuter’s news agency, citing state authorities, reported that the Islamic center accepted visitors from across the country despite the government’s implementation of the social distancing to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The news agency further reported that the government transferred by bus all of those present in the five-story building to a quarantine site somewhere in New Delhi.
New Delhi authorities claimed that protocols of quarantine were not followed at the place and that such disregard of the law was seen as “offensive action.”
The government ordered the city authorities to find those visited the place over the past few days and test them for COVID-19.
Islamic countries’ criticism
As the Indian government steps up its anti-Muslim crackdown under the allegations of virus spread, some Islamic countries criticized New Delhi’s treatment of the Muslim community.
Pakistan’s media on Monday reflected a Twitter message by Prime Minister Imran Khan who censured India’s policy of targeting the Muslim minority in the country.
Imran Khan said that the Indian government’s quarantine plan has so far left thousands of citizens facing starvation risks. Instead of correcting its policy, New Delhi targets the Muslim minority to distract the reactions to this policy, PM Imran Khan’s post suggested.
Targeting the Muslims in India and the violation against them is akin to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews during WWII, he said.
He further accused the government of PM Narendra Modi of promoting racism in the country and said that the racial supremacy approach defines the close government bonds with racism.
The General Secretariat and Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday blasted the growing violence against the Indian Muslims as the coronavirus crisis hits the country. It urged New Delhi to take steps to secure the rights of the Muslim community in the country.
Records of discrimination against Indian Muslims
The recent actions against the Muslims are not the only discriminatory measure against the minority, however.
Last year, during Trump’s visit to India, clashes erupted in which the Hindus attacked the homes of Muslims and left behind big human and material damages to the community.
The clashes have their root in the parliament’s new citizenship law approved in early December last year, so far causing resounding tensions. The controversial bill enables many ethno-sectarian groups to get Indian citizenship but excludes the Muslims.
The journalists closely following the clashes blame the police and government forces and suggest that the security forces in the right-wing government of PM Modi did not take the necessary actions to prevent looting and torching the places and assets belonging to the Muslims.
What over the past few months disrupted India’s calm is the bill approved by the parliament’s upper house in which non-Muslim migrants from neighboring countries could apply for Indian nationality. The law is part of the policy of the radical government of Modi to marginalize the 200-million minority and an offense to the equality principle highlighted by the constitution of India. It was passed by 125 yes against 105 no votes by the upper house, locally known as Rajya Sabha. It facilities granting citizenship to illegal non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan but makes the process difficult for Muslims.
Some 700 Indian prominent figures including academics and actors signed a statement condemning the move. They said that the government seems to be resolved to fuel severe turbulence in Indian society.
PM Modi declares war on Indian Muslims’ identity
The new citizenship law, whose discriminatory nature even drew condemnation from non-Muslim Indians, is not the only anti-Muslim move by PM Modi’s government. Before this move, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) changed Islamic-rooted names of many of the historical sites in the country in a bid to promote their position among the non-Muslim majority.
For example, Allahabad (the village or place of Allah) was renamed to Prayagraj, indicating how the ruling party’s leaders were unhappy with the naming of the nearly five-centuries-old city by a Muslim ruler. The local government headed by a Hindu governor who is close to Modi changed the name of the northern city of Faizabad to Ayodhya which is the so-called birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama.
The hardline government of Modi has promised that it will soon change to a Hindu one the name of Agra city in Uttar Pradesh state, which hosts the landmark cultural site Taj Mahal that was built in the early 17th century by Muslim emperor Shah Jahan. Ahmadabad in Gujarat state in southern India will also not survive the renaming campaign, as the government promised.
What is clear is that the fundamentalist government of Modi has launched a massive effort to eliminate the Islamic signs and identity from the “72-nation” country to make it a country for Hindus as they insist. In the eyes of the fundamentalist Indian leaders, the campaign is a return to the “glorious past” of Hindus. The measures purposely blur the Muslim history and identity in India. To put it differently, elimination of the Muslim names by the Indian government is a tactic to marginalize the Muslim community in the country and deny them any share from India’s past and history.