The United Nations Joins Battle Against Islamophobia

The United Nations has declared March 15 the "International Day to Combat Islamophobia".  Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first world leader who highlighted the global rise in Islamophobia in a speech in September, 2021 at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Khan's speech was followed by the adoption of a Pakistani resolution at the UNGA co-sponsored with the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) on March 15, 2022 to observe "International Day to Combat Islamophobia" on March 15 every year.  

Ex Prime Minister Imran Khan Speaking at the United Nations. 

In his September 2021 speech at UNGA,  Imran khan said that “the worst and most pervasive form” of Islamophobia “now rules India”. The “Hindutva ideology” being promoted by the Narendra Modi Government has unleashed “a reign of fear and violence” against India’s 200-million Muslims.

India is the Largest Contributor to Islamophobia on Social Media. S...

India has just 5.75% of global Twitter users but the country accounts for 55% of all anti-Muslim tweets, according to a recent report entitled "Islamophobia in the Digital Age" published by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV). It also found that the US, the UK, and India contributed a staggering 86% of anti-Muslim content on Twitter during a three-year period. It should be noted that both the US and the UK have a sizable  Indian diaspora infected by hateful Hindutva ideology. 

The growing hate that Muslims face is not an isolated development, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told attendees at a a high-level March 10 event at the UN Headquarters in New York. “It is an inexorable part of the resurgence of ethno-nationalism, neo-Nazi white supremacist ideologies, and violence targeting vulnerable populations including Muslims, Jews, some minority Christian communities and others,” he said. 

The UN HQ event was co-convened by Pakistan, whose Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, underscored that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and pluralism. Although Islamophobia is not new, he said it is “a sad reality of our times” that is only increasing and spreading.

“Since the tragedy of 9/11, animosity and institutional suspicion of Muslims and Islam across the world have only escalated to epidemic proportions. A narrative has been developed and peddled which associates Muslim communities and their religion with violence and danger,” said Mr. Zardari, who is also Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers. “This Islamophobic narrative is not just confined to extremist, marginal propaganda, but regrettably has found acceptance by sections of mainstream media, academia, policymakers and state machinery,” he added.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 19, 2023 at 8:17am

Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/india/markey-modi-biden-united-states


If making democratic values the cornerstone of the U.S.-Indian relationship has always been a dubious strategy, today it is clearly doomed—because the very notion of common values has itself come to look fanciful. Ever since Narendra Modi became the Indian prime minister nine years ago, India’s status as a democracy has become increasingly suspect. The “world’s largest democracy” has seen an upsurge in violence directed at its Muslim minority, often whipped up by prominent politicians. It is trying to strip citizenship from millions of Muslim residents. It is muzzling the press and silencing opposition figures. The Biden administration, having cast itself as a vocal champion of democratic ideals, therefore finds itself on shaky ground whenever it characterizes the United States’ partnership with India as one of shared values.

But it continues to do just that. In January, for example, the White House declared that the two states’ joint technology initiatives were “shaped by our shared democratic values and respect for universal human rights.” In June, Modi will visit Washington, D.C., for a formal state dinner meant to affirm “the warm bonds of family and friendship” that link the two countries. In February, however, the Indian government made it difficult for a leading Indian think tank to raise money, a major blow to intellectual freedom. In March, Modi’s party removed one of India’s most prominent opposition politicians from Parliament—explicitly because he insulted the prime minister.

Yet even as the two countries’ shared values have grown weaker, their shared material interests have only gotten stronger. India and the United States now have a clear, common geopolitical foe in China, and each understands that the other can help it win its competition against Beijing. For the United States, India is a massive, pivotal power in Asia that sits astride critical maritime routes and shares a long, contested land border with China. For India, the United States is an attractive source of advanced technology, education, and investment. New Delhi may still have close ties with Moscow, but the uncertain quality and reliability of Russian arms mean that India is more open than ever to buying weapons from the West instead.

To capitalize on these complementary material interests, however, the United States must dispense with the idea that shared values can provide the bedrock of a strong relationship, justifying its high tolerance for New Delhi’s behavior on the basis of a bet on long-term convergence. Rather than considering India an ally in the fight for global democracy, it must see that India is an ally of convenience. This shift will not be easy, given that Washington has spent decades looking at New Delhi through rose-colored glasses. But the pivot will encourage both sides to understand that their relationship is ultimately transactional—and allow them to get down to business.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 6:29pm

Opinion Modi’s political party has weaponized Bollywood

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/06/20/modi-cinema-musl...

By Rana Ayyub


For weeks now, criticism has been building around Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington. The prime minister and his Bharatiya Janata Party have been rightly accused of stoking sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims. Missing in this discussion have been the surprising and quiet ways the BJP has managed to co-opt popular culture, and especially cinema, for its political ends.

“The Kerala Story,” a feature film released last month, is emblematic of this broader trend.

The film purports to be a dramatization of a supposedly widespread phenomenon, telling the tale of a Hindu woman who converts to Islam, only to be radicalized and eventually recruited to join the Islamic State. The trailer luridly shows a Muslim woman brainwashing her friends to shun Hinduism. It shows a Muslim priest asking men to seduce Hindu women, impregnate them, distance them from their families and later send them to fight a holy war.


The description of the trailer on YouTube by the film’s creators originally claimed that the film’s protagonist is a fictionalized composite that tells the story of some 32,000 women who have suffered the same fate. The trailer quickly went viral, with prominent Hindu nationalist activists urging their followers to watch the film to understand what is happening in their country.

The BJP campaigned very hard on the back of the film in the southern state of Karnataka, with close to 20 mass rallies and eight road shows. At one of the rallies, Modi himself emphatically endorsed viewing the film. He said it portrayed the true face of terrorism and accused the opposition of trying to block the film’s release.

The film was indeed broadly criticized for its lurid air. India’s fact-checking website Alt News demolished the claim that tens of thousands of Hindu women had been brainwashed and recruited. It pointed out that reporting in 2021 found that four Indian women verifiably ended up jailed in Afghanistan after following their husbands in joining the Islamic State in Khorasan Province.


The West Bengal state government did try to stop the film from being shown. A Supreme Court justice, while deploring that the film vilified an Indian community, affirmed that the court would protect free speech and overturned the ban. The court, however, did demand that the film’s makers add disclaimers to the effect that “there is no authentic data to back up the suggestion that the figure of conversion is 32,000 or any other established figure,” and that “the film represents a fictionalized account of the events which form the subject matter of the film.”

But the damage was done. The film grossed some $37 million worldwide, becoming the second-highest-grossing Hindi film of 2023.

“The Kerala Story” playbook is a refinement of what has come before. Last year, I wrote about “The Kashmir Files,” a film so vicious toward Muslims that I left the theater fearing for my safety. “The Kashmir Files” was a box office success, too, pulling in audiences despite covid. An interesting film industry report found that more than 60 percent of the “Kashmir Files” audience were not regular cinemagoers, and that many were drawn to it by a word-of-mouth marketing campaign with its roots in BJP messaging.

Anurag Kashyap, one of India’s most celebrated filmmakers, told me that producers are being asked to make films to government spec. “Powerful Hindu nationalist groups like the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] are meeting producers and telling them what films are to be made so it can empower the government’s own agenda,” Kashyap said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 6:29pm

Opinion Modi’s political party has weaponized Bollywood

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/06/20/modi-cinema-musl...

By Rana Ayyub

Worse, some filmmakers are finding their films being unceremoniously dropped by streaming platforms in the past two years. Dibakar Banerjee, another prominent director, found his film “Tees,” which tells the story of a Muslim family coping with discrimination, shelved by Netflix. Banerjee said Netflix told him it felt it was not the right time to release the film. He surmised fear of political blowback scared off the streaming giant.

Meanwhile, several other films have been announced. “Swatantra Veer Savarkar” is a biopic about the founder of the Hindutva political ideology. “Godhra” will focus on the burning of a train in Gujarat in 2002 that killed nearly 60 Hindu pilgrims — an incident that triggered three days of anti-Muslim riots that cost more than a thousand lives (occurring while Modi was chief minister of the state). A promotional poster for “Hum do Hamare Barah,” a film that tackles the contentious topic of the population explosion in India, features a Muslim man, his pregnant wife in hijab and 11 children. And a teaser for a film titled “72 Hoorain” (“72 Virgins”) promises to show “the real face of Islam,” featuring visuals of known terrorists.

All these films will probably be released before the 2024 general election. Judging from the success of “The Kerala Story,” they are likely to find an enthusiastic audience — and provide more ammunition for the BJP’s campaigning.

It’s fortunate that the world is noticing what Modi and his party do in India to stir sectarianism. It should pay attention, too, to the means by which he sways the masses to align with his intolerant vision.

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