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Berkeley University study of Islamophobia in India highlights plight of Muslims

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The last decade has witnesses intensified attacks on Muslim, Christian, Sikh and 'lower castes' in India, according to a study released recently by the University of California, Berkeley.

This first of its kind report on the status of Islamophobia in India is meant to provide a groundbreaking collection of evidence and provide a reference point for all future work on the subject.

"Within the past decade, the level of targeted violence against Muslim, Christian, Sikh and 'lower castes' has intensified in India and with the arrival of the BJP into national office facilitating its deployment through all structures of the state against demonized and vulnerable groups," the report said adding:

"This strategy is familiar to observers of the political dynamics in the U.S. and Europe against the backdrop of the rising tide of Islamophobia that has been stoked and deployed by extreme right-wing groups to gain legitimacy and it has been monetized into votes at the ballot box."

According to Dr. Hatem Bazian, a co-author of the report with Paula Thompson and Rhonda Itaoui,

till now there has been no reliable evidence, academic engagements or scholarly reports that documents this rising tide of Islamophobia in the Indian context. "This lack of documentation both complicates and hinders the ability of those advocating against and countering Islamophobia."

Dr. Hatem Bazian, was keynote speaker at the Annual Iftar dinner 2019, on Saturday (May 12, 2019) where he spoke about the salient features of the study.

The report, titled Islamophobia in India: Stoking Bigotry, was published through the Center for Race and Gender's Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the University of California, Berkeley.

Here are Key Findings of the study:

Leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been implicated in "communal violence" and hate. Further, the BJP has the greatest number of lawmakers in the country with declared cases of hate speech against them. The provision of tickets to those charged with hate speech has been associated with driving the conditions that lead to Islamophobia and politically-stoked violence.

Polarizing politics are lucrative at the ballot box where individuals affiliated with stoking 'communal' hate and violence are actually four times more likely to win than others. This report has documented several Islamophobic statements from leading BJP members from across the political spectrum beginning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself who says: "Congress leaders are speaking in a language that is not acceptable in a democracy...This is insulting. This is nothing but a mindset of the Mughals."

BJP Legislator Subramanian Swamy says: "Muslims should take an oath declaring that their ancestors were Hindu if they want to prove their citizenship."

BJP Baiiria Legislator Surendra Singh says: "There are a very few Muslims who are patriotic. Once India becomes a Hindu rashtra, Muslims who assimilate into our culture will stay in India. Those who will not are free to take asylum in any other country."

BJP Union Minister Giriraj Singh says: "The growing population of the country, especially Muslims, is a threat to the social fabric, social harmony, and development of the country."

BJP Lawmaker Sanjay Patil says: "This election is not about roads, water or other issues. This election is about Hindus vs. Muslims, Ram Mandir vs. Babri Masjid."

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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