Pakistan apprehends a Gujarat repeat in India

FM draws Muslim world’s attention to Islamophobia in neighbouring country

​ Our Correspondent April 29, 2020
PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: As part of Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed letters to the OIC secretary general, and his counterparts in the 57-member body to draw their attention towards the rising wave of state-sanctioned hate crimes and Islamophobia in India, the Foreign Office said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.

“Among other things, the foreign minister has sensitised them towards this hate-mongering as part of the RSS-BJP dispensation’s anti-Muslim and anti-minority agenda, based on the extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology,” the statement said.

“The rising wave of state-sanctioned hate crimes and Islamophobia in India has emerged not only as a threat to Indian Muslims but is also a matter of grave concern for the Muslim world at large,” Qureshi was quoted as writing in the letter by the Foreign Office.

The foreign minister, according to the statement, apprised the OIC chief and the foreign ministers of Islamic nations of the BJP government’s systematic campaign to demonise Muslims by holding them responsible for the spread of coronavirus.

Qureshi also shared a video message on his twitter handle, saying that “the extremist state in India has created & executed a campaign of Islamophobia, vilifying Muslims. I have written to Sec Gen @OIC_OCI and all FMs of member states to unite in global condemnation of these inhuman attacks.”

Qureshi said: “We cannot stand by and let another Gujarat happen”, referring to the massacre of mainly Muslims in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, when the current Prime Minister Modi was the chief minister.

Qureshi underscored that Indian actions were in contravention of the relevant International conventions and seriously undermined global efforts for religious harmony during these challenging times, the statement added.

“It is hoped that the international community will take due cognisance and urge India to reverse this course, which is fraught with risks for the safety and security of India’s minorities, particularly Muslims, and for their fundamental rights and freedoms,” the statement added.

There have been growing incidents of hate crimes against Muslims in India particularly after the outbreak of Covid-19. RSS-inspired extremists have blamed Muslims for being the source of the pandemic and there are reports that some hospitals in India segregated Muslim patients from Hindus.

The hardline Hindus also launched a campaign against the Muslims on social media, something that invited an unusually strong response from prominent figures in the Gulf region.

A member of the UAE royal family said that such discrimination against the Muslims must not go unnoticed, while many other prominent figures in the Arab world sought the expulsion of Indian nationals for propagating the RSS ideology.

The unusually strong response from the Gulf countries with whom India in recent years cultivated good relations on the back of its economic clout prompted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to distance himself from the hate crimes against Muslims.

“The world is fighting against coronavirus. What is required is a joint coordinated effort. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing is that though this virus respects no borders, it doesn’t differentiate between ethnicities or religion — yet in India [...] they’re in the grip of Islamophobia,” the foreign minister said in the video message.

“Hate speech is being practiced in India. Muslims are being discriminated [against]. They are not even being treated properly in hospitals,” said Qureshi in the video. “There’s a campaign not to buy from their shops and businesses. Their houses were and are being attacked.”

He urged the international community to “speak up”, as many in the Muslim world and the Gulf countries already have, stressing that the “time has now come to take notice to stop this attack on Muslims in India”.

(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)

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