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Indian Muslims face bleak future

NEW DELHI: In the aftermath of recent rhetoric offending Islam and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by a Bharatiya Janata party spokesperson, and despite a promising and secular constitution guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of all people regardless of religion, clashes between religions are becoming more overt in India. The current economic and sociopolitical climate, under the governance of rightwing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, forecasts a bleak future ahead for Indian Muslims, as they are already living under grueling circumstances and seen as second-class citizens.

Muslims’ religious rituals and dietary habits are being attacked and even criminalized; women are banned from wearing hijab in schools, and Friday prayer is prohibited in the city of Gurgaon, along with several issues relating to Muslim personal status law. Hindu extremists are also demanding speakers no longer transmit the Muslim call to prayer.

The homes and businesses of Muslim people are being targeted and sabotaged, and their livelihoods threatened. Demands of changing Muslim names of certain cities and roadways, contesting the use of the word “halal”, inflammatory media portrayals of Muslims, as well as Hindutva propaganda alleging that Muslim monuments such as Taj Mahal and Qutab Minar are originally Hindu sites, all contribute to the alienation of the Muslim people.

In addition, journalists and media personnel not adhering to the extremist national policy of Hindutva are persistently being silenced and reprimanded. The response of the Indian government to the recent offensive remarks is seen as a renewal of the image of the country and an attempt to protect its economic interests instead of an actual concrete attempt to better the reality of Muslims in India.

Due to the lack of Muslim political representation or media presence, government bodies are increasingly adopting more anti-Muslim policies. Majoritarian violence is influencing the ebb and flow of the decision-making process as the legislative and executive authorities are taking provocative measures against the Muslim community, including arrests of prominent figures.

On the political front, the Indian Congress Party, which was once on the forefront of Indian independence, is currently in shambles. The party that contributed to the writing of the constitution preformed quite weakly in local and national elections, as it failed to appeal to the masses. Other leftist parties are also restricted to certain states with very limited representation in parliament; therefore, an alternative where political parties answer the pleas of Muslims and repair the systemized political social and economic oppression is unlikely.

Furthermore, many Indian Muslims question the motives and integrity of leftist parties as they either unknowingly or purposely play into rightwing agenda. Despite reports of a number of Muslims subscribing to the rightwing party, a permanent alliance between the two is implausible as the governing party continues to taint the image of Muslim Indians and paint them as successors of violent invaders who killed Hindus and toppled temples, dividing the country.

The image of a peace-loving India that was put in place by Mahatma Gandhi is gradually deteriorating, adversely affecting in the long run hefty economic opportunities in the fields of information technology, imports, exports, health and tourism. Independent journalists are warning of the eruption of a civil war if the government fails to regulate Hindutva, while others are saying India has indeed become a Hindu state. – KUNA

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