India’s complex position on Islamophobia
- India’s assertion criticising the OIC Resolution on Islamophobia was valid, but could have made a reference to Indian Muslims.
Concessions by OIC
- Islamophobia connotes fear of and prejudice, discrimination and hate speech against Islam.
- Muslims worldwide complain about negative stereotyping of their faith which has got exacerbated since the al Qaeda’s 9/11 terrorist attacks and other instances of terrorist violence undertaken by Islamist groups.
- Pakistan Prime Minister during his address to the UNGA in 2019, said that “…that there is no such thing as radical Islam (and) there are radical fringes in every society”.
- Mr. Khan also regretted that “suicide attacks are equated with Islam” and the marginalisation of Muslims in European countries. He admitted, though, that the Western world does not “look at religion the way that we do”.
- In the Resolution’s operative part, the OIC had to agree to a call for a dialogue for peace based on “respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs”.
- While submitting the Resolution, the OIC had to withdraw its call for “high-visibility events” by member states, for curbing Islamophobia. It now only wants the observation of March 15 in “an appropriate manner”.
- India formally accepted the Resolution and has become somewhat obscured. India’s basic contention was encapsulated in these words “It is time that we acknowledged the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one”.
- This was an entirely valid assertion. So was the contention that ‘phobias’ are just not against Abrahamic faiths but also against non-Abrahamic religions.
- Discriminatory, prejudicial and violent acts have taken place, as mentioned by india , against Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.
- Non-Abrahamic faiths, though, perhaps do not evoke the same degree of fear and negativity worldwide but especially in the West as does Islam.
- India’s historical track record of giving refuge to the prosecuted members of different faiths. He specifically mentioned Zoroastrians, Jews and Buddhists
- India’s intervention was any reference to Indian Muslims. This would not go without notice, especially as the Indian Muslim community is the second or third largest in the world.
- India did “condemn” Islamophobia along with all other religiophobia, but at that point he could have specifically added that India cannot but be concerned with Islamophobia because Muslims form a substantial part of the country’s plural society.
Effects of references
- Such a reference would have been appropriate for two other reasons too:
- The complaint that despite India’s desire, the word “pluralism” does not find any mention in the Resolution
- The Indian Prime Minister’s vision of India’s polity and society and the path of progress he aspires to lies in “sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas and sabka prayas”.
- That necessarily includes Indian Muslims as the ruling dispensation itself stresses to ward off allegations of anti-minorities bias.
- EU’s opposition to the Resolution stemmed from “singling out a particular confession”, but its philosophical underpinnings were different.
- The EU placed its focus on individual rights and freedoms and not on protection of religions per se. Thus, its emphasis was on the rights of non-believers.
- The gulf between the EU and the OIC on the ambit of the freedom of expression is long standing and will not be easily bridged.
- China’s abysmal record of treatment of its Muslims, especially the Uighurs, is well known. Yet, the OIC has always adopted a soft approach towards China.
- It has essentially overlooked the persecution of its Muslim minorities, particularly of the Uighurs who have been ‘re-educated’ in large camps.
- Thus, China’s approach to the Resolution was brazen. Perhaps as a quid pro quo, the OIC once again gave China a free pass during its Foreign Minister’s meeting in Islamabad recently; the Chinese mistreatment of its Muslims does not find any mention in the Islamabad declaration.