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PM Imran demands an International Day to Combat Islamophobia

In a historic speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan demanded the UN to declare an ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ and build a coalition to fight this scourge – a scourge that splits humanity.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again presented the case of Muslims and Kashmiris before the international community. Khan, in his speech before the UN on Friday, termed by political commentators as the best presentation of Muslims, has outlined several key issues faced by the world today.

While addressing the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 75th session, he condemned the targeting of Muslims in many countries and provocations and incitement “in the name of free speech”.

“Incidents in Europe, including republication of blasphemous sketches by Charlie Hebdo, are recent examples,” he said. The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reprinted offensive caricatures this month that were first published in 2015. “This assembly should declare an ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ and build a coalition to fight this scourge – scourge that splits humanity,” he demanded.

In India, after a controversial citizenship was passed— India will award citizenship to immigrants from neighboring countries except Muslims—and COVID-19 hit the country, there was an unprecedented propaganda against Muslims. The ruling party in India, BJP, is accused of deliberately targeting Muslims to achieve its ideological agenda.

State-sponsored Islamophobia in India

Prime Minister Khan also highlighted the state of Muslims in India. He demanded the world to look into what is going on in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The one country in the world today where, I am sad to say, the state sponsors Islamophobia, is India. The reason behind this is RSS ideology that unfortunately rules India today,” Khan said.  “They believe that India is exclusive to Hindus and others are not equal citizens,” PM Khan added.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an extremist Hindu organization founded by a doctor named Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a contemporary of Mohandas Gandhi, nearly 100 years ago, since 1970. RSS founding fathers said to have ‘besotted with Mussolini’s fascists’.

The organization had a holistic approach to structurally transform a Hindu society into a Hindu-state. With the help of at least 4 million volunteers, efforts are underway to train young students to become part of the movement through the Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad (ABVP), a youth wing of the RSS. Notably, RSS volunteers swear oaths of allegiance and take part in quasi-military drills.

The RSS members fundamentally believe that “centuries of non-Hindu rule — British colonialism and the Mughal Empire before that — have left Indians without a strong sense of their culture and heritage”. The organization holds a revivalist ideology.

Read More: Islamophobia hits Football Fields; Player targeted for being Too Muslim

The group’s mission statement describes it as “firmly rooted in genuine nationalism” and decries an “erosion of the nation’s integrity in the name of secularism” and “endless appeasement of the Muslim population.”

Muslim world after Modi’s anti-Muslim policies

After a recent wave of Islamophobia in India, the relations between the Arab world and PM Modi were being jolted. Jyoti Malhotra, a prominent Indian Editor, noted that “India’s carefully cultivated Gulf policy has been at risk of unraveling over the past fortnight, with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Kuwaiti government, a UAE royal princess, and the Arab intelligentsia decrying hate speeches by Indian nationals accusing the Tablighi Jamaat of deliberately exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic as well as a crude tweet by a BJP MP on the “sexual impulses of Arab women”.

Professor Christophe Jaffrelot, a senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s India Institute, London, and Haider Abbas Rizvi, an Uttar Pradesh-based Information Commissioner, wrote an article for The Indian Express to highlight that India has lost friends due to the incumbent government’s anti-Muslim policies.

The authors argue that “Muslim countries with which India had increasingly good relations have become less friendly,” but, at the same time, Pakistan was able to seek diplomatic support in order to present its case for Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK).

Islamophobia in the West: Edward Said’s view

It is important to note that since the end of the 20th century, there has been a deliberate effort by the western media and scholarship to present a violent image of Islam. In this regard, acclaimed author Edward Said wrote an insightful book titled ‘Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World‘ and presented a factual analysis of the situation. He outlined how the western media deliberately initiated a war against an imagined, violent Islam.

The leading newspapers in the United States in the 1990s published countless anti-Islam articles. In 1996, an article titled Seeing Green: The Red Menace Is Gone, portrayed Muslims in a bad light. The New York Times published an article that cultivated hatred against Islam by dividing people between ‘Us versus Them’. The campaign against Islam resulted in what now the western media terms ‘white-supremacist hate crimes’. Experts opine that these supremacists are now challenging the order within developed societies. The attack on a Mosque in New Zealand was such an example.

Read More: Pakistan moves UN to act against Islamophobia

Public policy experts suggest the governments and political parties create anti-Muslim settings in their respective countries as PM Khan remarked that in this global village “no one is safe unless everyone is safe”.

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