We have been hearing calls from Muslims in the Arab world and around the globe to boycott Indian goods. Why? Nupur Sharma, the now-sacked spokeswoman for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, has been shamed on the global stage for insulting our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a televised debate. After unprecedented backlash from Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Maldives, Oman, and Turkey, she was suspended from the party. Naveen Jindal, a BJP spokesman in Delhi who also tweeted derogatory remarks about Islam, was expelled from the BJP, the fundamentalist Hindu organization currently ruling India.
Indian products were soon taken off shelves in the Persian Gulf after a high-ranking Muslim cleric called for boycotts. Hashtags expressing anger at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began trending on Arabic-language Twitter. Three Muslim-majority countries — Qatar, Kuwait, and Iran — summoned their Indian ambassadors to convey their displeasure. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Afghanistan on Monday condemned the spokeswoman, Nupur Sharma, as did the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Pakistan, too.
All this external pressure forced India to fire the BJP spokesperson. The world needs to keep exerting pressure on the fundamentalist Hindu nationalist Indian government to stop spreading hatred in the country against Muslims and other minorities.
In a press statement, the BJP affirmed that it “respects all religions” and that the BJP is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ever since the Modi-led BJP government took power in India in 2014, the country has been systematically targeting its Muslim minority by killing them indiscriminately and revoking their Indian citizenship. India’s war on Muslims is in full swing these days.
What should the Muslims do to defend their rights in the country?
We the Muslims, need to understand that it is not a one-off incident by a ‘lone wolf’ in India. There have been countless instances where the Hindu nationalists backed by the BJP and other right-wing terrorist organizations have insulted our Prophet(peace be upon him) and attacked Indian Muslims. They have tried to humiliate our religion and our sacred personalities on several occasions. All this nonsense must stop at all costs and Muslims around the world need to continue exerting pressure on India to mend its ways and safeguard its more than 250 Muslims.
The following article by Dr. Omar Suleiman aptly stresses the importance of the topic and why we need to continue pressuring the Indian government to change its behavior against Muslims.
Boycotts and media outrage won’t change India’s attacks on its Muslim citizens.
India has been on genocide watch for some time now for its ill-treatment of its more than 200 million Muslims. Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, Muslims have suffered official as well as private and even mob-generated discrimination, ranging from the stripping of citizenship from native-born Muslims and illegal occupation of Kashmir to lynchings fomented by the the the false rumors of Muslims killing cows.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads the BJP, was at one point barred from entering the United States for his role in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat while he was governor of the state in 2002, earning him the nickname “Butcher of Gujarat.”
But Modi’s anti-Muslim history has conveniently disappeared as international politics and economics — not to mention lucrative arms deals — have convinced U.S. leaders to welcome Modi time and time again with open arms. For years, American Muslims have protested his presence here and his escalating anti-Muslim fascism at home, but we have been largely rebuffed. Even Muslim-majority nations, busy with their internal politics and unwilling to risk tensions with the Indian government, have met our pleas with silence.
Somehow that all changed this past week when Nupur Sharma, the BJP’s national spokesperson, crudely insulted the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on Indian national TV. Qatar quickly issued a condemnation, followed by Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and many other Muslim nations, several of which overcame long and bitter disputes with one another to confront a global superpower. The solidarity is refreshing and long overdue.
Insulting the Prophet almost always signals that a country is attempting to exert dominance over Muslims, either their homegrown minorities or neighbors abroad. When France uses the insult of the Prophet as the marquee issue of freedom of speech, it simultaneously engages in all sorts of repression against the Muslim community that set a chilling tone for the rest of Europe. When racist Israeli settlers march on Jerusalem under the full protection of the state apparatus and chant “Muhammad is dead,” their aim seems to be to see all of his Palestinian Muslim followers dead as well.
China bars Uyghur Muslims from uttering the name “Muhammad,” even as it has put thousands of Muslim men named Muhammad into internment camps unseen by the outside world.
The insulting of the Prophet is sufficient incitement and wrong on its own, but it must always be condemned as the sign of systemic Islamophobia that its expression represents. The portrayal of the Prophet as violent is also meant to caricature Muslims worldwide as inherently in need of being subdued and subjected to discriminatory practices to prevent them from destroying the West.
In the case of India’s most recent insult, a reference to the Prophet’s marriage, Muslims have reacted with global boycotts. These actions seem to result only in getting these governments to take back their words without making real changes. Calls to boycott French products in 2020 forced President Emmanuel Macron to scramble to mollify the Muslim world, but the French government has continued to aggressively shut down mosques and curb Muslim civil liberties.
This week, as “Boycott India” has been trending in the Muslim world, Modi suspended his spokesperson for her incendiary remarks, seeming to reject the attempt to dehumanize Muslims by attacking their Prophet. It’s important that all Muslims, and all people who believe in religious freedom, not be placated by this gesture and let the world turn its back on Indian Muslims once again.
Unless we intervene, the repression of Muslims at Modi’s hands will only increase.
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