Yasmin Qureshi writes
letter to Liz Truss on
‘Islamophobia, other
issues’ of her concern

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LONDON: Labour MP Barrister Yasmin Qureshi has written a letter to Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, drawing her attention towards existing situation in India which she considers concerning.

Barrister Yasmin Qureshi MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP writes that she is contacting her “regarding the continual rise of Islamophobia in India, and the Indian Government’s active role in it. For years now, I have been raising the alarm about the deteriorating situation for Muslims in India and asking the UK Government to do something about it. At the very least, I continue to hope that the UK Government will recognise that the Indian Government of Narendra Modi is actively stoking Islamophobia for his and his party’s political gain”

She writes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata party are seeking to turn India into an authoritarian, Hindu country, in line with their Hindutva ideology, a core element of which is the supremacy of Hindus above all others. It is therefore not surprising that the current Indian Government has no regard for the rights and wellbeing of Muslims or other minorities, and that Islamophobia is on the rise in the general population. Here, the BBC has recently highlighted four cases involving hate crimes against Muslims: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india60225543 The most well-known example of Islamophobia is the 2019 Citizenship Act, which divides migrants into two groups, Muslims and non-Muslims, with only Muslims excluded from its provisions. This Act explicitly and blatantly enshrines religious discrimination into law. This Act, and the revocation of the special autonomous status of Kashmir, led Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, to say: “we are warning that genocide could very well happen in India”, drawing parallels between the discrimination against Muslims in India with the policies that led to the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

“Further to this, Hindu extremists across India have been publicly calling for a genocide of Muslims, with no condemnation from the Indian Government. As an example of this, at a meeting of Hindu religious leaders in the state of Uttarakhand in December, chants calling for genocide were started, and the police are investigating several attendees at the event for “promoting hatred between religious groups”. “You may want to dismiss this warning, just as previous warnings about genocides were dismissed, but I urge you to take this issue seriously and take note of the pattern of Islamophobia that is taking place across India. In December, I wrote to you regarding the anti-Muslim violence in the Indian states of Assam and Tripura. Unprovoked attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs have become routine, along with the destruction of mosques and Muslim owned-property across India, but the events in Assam and Tripura were a high point in this violence.

“Last year, a new Islamophobic phenomenon of ‘auctioning’ female Muslim journalists, activists, celebrities, and artists on social media sites started. Dozens of prominent female Muslims were ‘offered up for sale’ in fake auction posts, designating them as targets for harassment, humiliation, and racial slurs. This is just the another example of the organised online campaign of Islamophobia against Muslims in India. Muslim women in particular are targeted, with videos circulated calling for them to be raped by Hindu men.

“Despite this, no Government Minister has publicly condemned these videos and the ongoing misogynistic, Islamophobic abuse that Muslim women face on a daily basis. Most recently, there was the ban on students wearing hijabs in schools and colleges in the Indian state of Karnataka. These students are being denied their ability to express their freedom of religion and dress in accordance with their beliefs. I am sure that you will have seen the video of young girls being shouted at by a group of Hindu men, which was reminiscent of Ruby Bridges being harangued by racists in Louisiana when she became the first African American child to attend William Frantz Elementary School. On their own, you might want to dismiss these manifestations of anti-Muslim hate, but together they show the true, frightening picture of the rise of Islamophobia in India. It is also worth noting that, whilst Muslims are the main target of both Government backed and people-driven violence and discrimination, other minority groups in India are also being persecuted in the Government’s pursuit of a Hindutva India. For example, last year, I raised the case of Jagtar Singh Johal with you – a Sikh man from Scotland who has spent over three years in an Indian prison without being convicted, and who alleges that a confession was extracted from him using torture, including beatings and electrocution

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“He is accused of conspiring to murder a number of right-wing Hindu leaders and funding the crimes, as a member of a “terrorist gang”. However, his brother is convinced that he has actually been arrested because he wrote about historical human rights violations against Sikhs in India. The case of Mr Johal is emblematic of the rising authoritarianism in India and hatred of other minority groups.” Barrister Yasmin Qureshi goes on writing; “Furthermore, the organisation ‘Open Doors’ has said that “the persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence.” The group clearly states that the “driving force behind this is Hindutva. “This is leading to a systemic, and often violent and carefully orchestrated, targeting of Christians and other religious minorities, including use of social media to spread disinformation and stir up hatred.”

“However, so far, the UK Government has condemned only individual instances of discrimination and violence; it has not called out the role of the Indian Government and its Hindutva ideology in the large-scale, multi-faceted campaign against Muslims and other minority groups in India. I hope that the UK Government will finally take these events seriously and recognise the threat that they pose to non-Hindus in India. We must not allow these actions to go unchecked.”