By Sara Nazir 17 March 2023
‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ is observed on 15 March by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to emphasize that terrorism should not be related to religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnicity. The resolution was adopted by UNGA in 2021 by considering it a threat to humanity in wake of the worldwide increasing incidents. India, the EU and France oppose the resolution as these countries have a number of incidents related to Islamophobia. Even by the way they portray Muslims and their religious practices, contributes a lot to fueling Islamophobia across the world. As per the report of Genocide Watch, Islamophobia has become a state-manufactured ideology in India.
As per western understanding, Islamophobia is discrimination and hostility towards Muslim Community. The term “Islamophobia” is used to indicate irrational hostility and animosity for Muslims, Islam and Islamic culture. Moreover, it highlights the discrimination that Muslims experience. Violence against Muslims happens frequently. They experience daily harassment and victimization. The treatment of Muslims and how difficult it is for them to deal with all the negativity may differ from area to area practice. Muslims are being targeted and discriminated against through strict visa regimes, finger printings, and humiliating security checks at airports, etc. International media also expresses its bias against Muslims, in cases where a Muslim commits a crime he is termed a terrorist, while a white man, murdering children, is declared mentally disturbed. Because of hatred and biases against Islam, Muslims are blamed for incendiary acts. For Muslims, new laws are being imposed. For instance, French policies have openly begun to discriminate against Muslims. Muslims are more likely to experience intolerance, offensive language, and racism in the workplace, at educational institutions, and in mosques that are assaulted by fascists.
Islam, despite being the second-largest religion in India, Muslim lives are perpetually in danger. Islamophobia has reached its highest point in India, which used to be referred to as the greatest secular democratic state. Muslims in India are slain because of their religious practices. Muslims are caught, subjected to harassment, mistreated, harmed, imprisoned, and even killed. On March 2023, Vijaya Sankalpa Yatra, a former minister in his press conference showed India’s intent to ban “Azaan” (Muslim call for prayer) which again severly hurts the Muslim sentiments.
Social and commercial interactions with Muslims are strictly banned in India. Muslim women are raped, humiliated, and subjected to disdain. Since Narendra Modi had taken the charge as Prime Minister of India, a rapid increase in Islamophobia and crimes against minorities can be seen due to his strong association with right-wing Hindu nationalist parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The genesis of Modi’s association with right-wing Hindu nationalist parties can be traced back to 2002 when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat and was prominently involved in the Gujarat communal riots. World’s leading defenders of human rights critically assessed Modi’s active participation in the sectarian bloodshed in Gujarat and banned his travel into their states, but things changed once he took office as prime minister. With BJP’s leadership in India, the political manifestations of Hindutva ideology have been revised. Prime Minister Modi has implemented his demonstrations of Hindutva by redefining its established tenets.
Similarly, France was the first country in Europe to outlaw complete face coverings in public settings in 2010. The European Islamophobia Report 2021 states that with an estimated 10,000 episodes in 2022, Islamophobia is “as serious a concern” throughout Europe. These episodes include assaults on mosques, racial attacks on Muslims, and Islamophobia crimes in the EU. In the same year, a study conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights revealed that, on average, 1 in 3 Muslim participants had faced discrimination in the previous 12 months. Muslim respondents who reported discrimination said that, on average, 8 instances of it occurred to them during 12 months. Similar hijab/burqa prohibitions have also been enacted at various periods in other states, including Austria, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway. An organization named “Reclaim Australia” organized anti-Islamic protest in 2015 all around Australia. The group has drawn neo-nazis and is recognized for espousing extreme viewpoints. A Muslim lady was assaulted and referred to as a “terrorist” on August 7, 2016, while utilizing public transportation in Tirana, Albania, because she was wearing a headscarf.
In March 2019, there were two simultaneous mass shootings in New Zealand in which at least 50 people died as a consequence of the tragedy, often known as the Christchurch shooting. One such Islamophobic act frequently practiced under the guise of free speech is the tragic sequence of occurrences wherein copies of the Holy Quran were burnt in various regions of Europe. Similar events occurred in 2023, commencing on January 20, when Rasmus Paludan, a leader of the far-right in both Denmark and Sweden, burnt a copy of the Bible in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. The event prompted strong condemnation from nations with a majority of Muslims.
Role of Pakistan to Combat Islamophobia
Pakistan has regularly urged muslim community to work for combating the terrorism and raise voices against discriomination faced by Musilms. Governemnt of Pakistan has actively engaged the world community for raising awareness about grave consequences of Islamophobia. Government has sent latter to the leaders of muslim countries and urge them to take the responsibility to educate those countries who are not aware of Islamic values and faith but misperceived it.
In the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), based in Riyadh, 55 Muslim-majority governments endorsed the resolution, notably Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and several other Gulf and North African nations. Islamophobia was noted as a significant topic of concern in 2011 by the League of Arab States and the UN Alliance of Civilizations. A resolution declaring March 15 as the “International Day to Fight Islamophobia” was proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and it was unanimously accepted by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2022. The spokesperson of Pakistan said, “Islamophobia has arisen as a new form of racism that includes, among other things, discriminatory travel bans, hate speech, and the attacking women for their dress,” when introducing the resolution calling for the establishment of the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. An international forum that promotes tolerance and peace and is based on the protection of human rights and the variety of religions and beliefs was called for in the text.
The fear of Islam is deeply ingrained in the psyche of Westerners and other non-Muslims. Islamophobia has become a slang that disrupts people’s mental peace. For Muslims, Islamophobia and associated behaviors are intolerable and is becoming increasingly challenging for the Muslim community across the world. But there is dire need to addresss the issue internationally because the way west is portraying the image of Muslims and Islam will have serious consequences for the entire world community. The international community should take a serious notice for Indian facist policies and their unlawful measures towards Muslims which, on the other hand are violating the human rights.