Modi's Up to Anti-Muslim Mischief Again

Modi's Up to Anti-Muslim Mischief Again
Photo by Naveed Ahmed / Unsplash

The government of India is mired in a bit of a mess right now.

We're coming up on the next round of elections in the country, and the Prime Minister is building up for a run at campaigning for a third term. Narendra Modi is a seriously controversial figure, and his reputation is very well earned.

The last time I wrote about Modi was back when he was embroiled in a controversy with the Canadian government. Our Prime Minister alleged that Modi's government greenlit an assassination of a Canadian Sikh leader on Canadian soil.

There have also been allegations that similar assassination attempts on US soil have been caught out and foiled.

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If you know anything about Modi's history as a politician, then you know that action would not be out of character for him. Dissenting voices are not welcome under Modi's governance, and his Hindu-first nationalism is very well known.

Going all the way back to 2002 and the Gujarat riots, sectarian violence in India has been a serious problem. That debacle, under Modi's leadership as the then-Chief Minister of Gujarat, ended in the deaths of hundreds of Muslim citizens of India.

Since Modi's election in 2014, and the rise of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, things have not gotten more stable. Under their policy of Hindutva, the country of India is synonymous with Hinduism, and other religious minorities are outsiders.

The latest example of this policy is due to come into effect very shortly.

See, back in 2019 there was a law written into the books in India. Called the Citizenship Amendment Act, the law offers a speedy way to apply for citizenship. It provides this boost to refugees who arrived illegally from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

It prioritizes Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains. It completely excludes Muslims.

The law was put off for several years, citing a combination of difficulties during the Covid-19 Pandemic and held back after mass protests. But now, weeks before the election, it is finally being put into action.

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Anti-Muslim sentiment is rife in India.

They face daily prejudice and violence; they are regularly subject to policies that restrict the wearing of headscarves in public buildings such as schools and offices, which discourages the attendance of Muslim girls and women.

There is a strong bias against Muslims in the legal system as well, and victims of hate crimes are often basically swept under the rug and ignored by police. They have nobody to look to for help, and their attackers are free to continue abusing them as long as they aren't stopped.

This makes it very difficult for practicing Muslims to participate in the normal events of daily life. It makes it hard to work, to go out in public at all. A trip to the grocery store might end in you being robbed, beaten, or worse.

And it's likely that you won't be taken seriously even if you bother to report it to the police. You might even fall prey to so-called Bulldozer Justice if you dare to speak up.

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So this new law is just salt in an already festering wound. It is especially galling because it applies a religious question to the citizenship application process, when India has previously been an officially secular nation.

I mean, it doesn't take a genius to see how discriminatory this law is on its face. There is no subtlety here, and there is no room to question intent. It's Islamophobia, plain and simple, exactly as it says on the tin.

With all that's going on in the world, this may seem like small potatoes. But we have to remember that bigotry is an all-or-nothing deal. If we fail to take a stand against every instance of it, we fail the people who are falling prey to it.

Stay aware, stay vigilant, and stay angry. Keep sending the message to everyone you meet that this is not morally or ethically acceptable. Make it clear that we don't like it happening in other countries, and we will not stand for it ever happening here.

The louder we are, the more we keep our own leaders on their toes. Make them think twice.

Solidarity wins.