“Looking Muslim could cost your life” in India, observes CNN

“What we are seeing in India is more than the systemic oppression of Muslims and other minorities.”

An article published in CNN, entitled ‘In the world’s largest democracy, ‘looking Muslim’ could cost your life’ noted that India is the largest democracy where, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s watch, Muslims are being vilified and evicted from their homes, their freedom of religious expression stifled.

Co-author of this article, Abbas, a Muslim man in India has experienced it firsthand, choosing not to wear a dress that might point to his identity as a Muslim, when traveling the country for work.

Article notes that, since mob lynchings of Muslims who look visibly Muslim have arisen in the past, as a precaution, Muslims choose to wear attire that might not point to their religious identity.

“Prime Minister Modi has previously suggested that people protesting against the law can be “identified by their clothes” — a clear reference to Muslim protesters. Little wonder then, that Indian Muslims feel they have had to change how they dress, eat and speak in public.” The article observes.

The article further adds, “Muslim women wearing hijab can face backlash and discrimination, even though there’s no national ban on religious garments in public spaces.”

Calling CAA a targeted persecution of Muslims, the article asserts, “Just one example of the targeted persecution of Muslims is a controversial citizenship law granting Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants, introduced by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019.”

It points out, “Since Modi’s government came to power in 2014, crimes against the Muslim minority have steadily increased.”

Saying that BJP’s goal is to make India a Hindu nation, the article concludes, “Othering Muslims, the country’s second largest religion, has proven to be an effective strategy in the BJP’s majoritarian politics.”

Mentioning the razing of shops and homes of Muslims, the article observes “India’s roughly 200 million Muslims — just over 14% of the population — are defending their right to live.”

It further adds, “What we are seeing in India is more than the systemic oppression of Muslims and other minorities.”

The article also condemns open calls for violence against Muslims that have become increasingly frequent. Deploring call for hijab ban it states, “Following the southern state of Karnataka’s controversial ban on headscarves in classrooms earlier this year, a member of a Hindu nationalist youth group called for those who wore hijabs to be “cut … into pieces”

The article laments upon the silence of the world on atrocities against Muslims by saying, “Yet world leaders seem unbothered by the state of affairs on the ground in India. There are no sanctions or wide condemnations of the Modi government. What little international media coverage there is of the situation — in our experience as journalists — been pushed aside to cover the war in Ukraine. And while that news needs due coverage, so does this.”

The article exclaims, “Despite India being the world’s largest democracy, and constitutionally secular, the BJP has repeatedly stoked the flames of communalism, othering Muslims, branding them dangerous and violent.”

The article also condemned ‘love jihad or anti conversion law’ likening it to the 1935 Nuremberg laws banning marriages between Jews and those of “pure” German blood in Nazi Germany. It also mentions Modi’s praise of the film The Kashmiri Files, which further ignited Muslim hatred.

The article noted that “Islamophobia has permeated every aspect of Indian society”, mentioning renaming of cities to erase traces of Muslim history. It also pointed out towards the fact that Muslims in metropolitan areas face ghettoization.

Mentioning cow vigilantism it states, “And while beef and meat bans intimidate economically deprived marginalized groups including Muslims, the gross double standards of beef exports from India continue.”

It observes, “Indian Muslims are forced to navigate social spaces with an eye of caution, amid a so-called “anti-terror” law to arrest and incarcerate for years without trial. For many activists and journalists jailed under the law, their only fault is their Muslim identity. But any unjust incarceration does more than silence the brave; it instills a sense of fear in the young minds of the Muslim community.”

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