A researcher says hundreds of Islamophobic attacks rock India daily. [Picture: Anadolu Agency]
A research scholar and journalist based in New Delhi has said hundreds of Islamophobic incidents rock rural India daily. Hindu mobs attack Muslims and get away scot-free, in many cases.
Aasif Mujtaba, a researcher and journalist, was speaking in the wake of a horrendous attack on an Imam in Maharashtra state on India’s west coast. Zakir Sayyed Khaja was attacked by unidentified individuals who entered an Anwa village mosque and beat him up for refusing to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
Jai Shri Ram, meaning “Glory to Lord Rama”, is an informal Hindu greeting, used as a symbol of adhering to Hindu faith.
Mujtaba said this was not an isolated incident. He claimed such attacks occurred daily in remote areas and had, in fact, been increasing in the past ten years.
“Hundreds of such incidents are happening everyday, throughout the territory of the country. This Hindu chauvinism has penetrated so deep across the towns and villages that it has become very easy to demean Muslims.”
Attack in India mosque
The latest mob attack took place as Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan. Part of the spiritual activities observed during Ramadan is tarawih, when Imams lead congregations in nightly prayer and recite the Qur’an.
The Imam told India Today that he was reading the Qur’an when a mob arrived Sunday evening. The mob then proceeded to shave Khaja’s beard before departing the scene of the attack.
Meanwhile, Mujtaba said Muslims were frequently being harrassed by Police and incarcerated on false charges in the world’s biggest ‘democracy’. Attackers were also becoming more brazen, he said.
“You will find it very common that Hindu mobs are chanting very provocative, very criminal and very nefarious slogans outside mosques and darbars. You will find it very common that Muslims are brutally murdered in broad daylight.”
Mujtaba further blamed authorities for tolerating Islamophobic attacks in India. He said it was unlikely justice would be served in Khaja’s case, like many others, since civil society was being suppressed and the judiciary was becoming unfair.
He recalled a previous incident when a Muslim was beaten by police themselves for refusing to recite the national anthem. “The guy later succumbed to his injuries. The video was there, [but] police could not identify the police personnel who were involved in this,” he said.
Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have been banned, he said, and existing civil society organisations have been rendered “irrelevant”.
“Name any international organisation, name any national big civil society group. Their area of work has been curtailed to a grave degree. Civil society is becoming irrelevant in India because the government has not given them enough space.”
He said the state apparatus had become complicit in Islamophobia in India.
“All the authorities of the state, be it legislature, judiciary or the executive, are working in every possible interest that is against the interests of Muslims. Civil society and human rights groups have been curtailed to such an extent that their voices have been suffocated and they don’t find any relevance there.”