The Rising Tides of Authoritarianism Reach India’s Muslims

March 19, 2022 Updated September 18, 2022 Articles

By: MPAC Policy Bureau

Artwork: Soham Sen/ThePrint

Earlier this week, an Indian court upheld a challenge to the so-called Hijab ban.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has encouraged the targeting of religious minorities, including Muslims, for years.

This is well known and thanks to the work of journalist Rana Ayyub through her book “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up,” his participation in the mass killing of Muslims in Gujarat is irrefutable. Others who have tried to tell this story face grave danger including Mrs. Ayyub’s colleague, Mr. Ajit Sahi. He, a Hindu, was forced to flee his homeland and move to the United States just because he was reporting on the atrocities that Muslims in India have faced.

But it’s not just killing or physical harm, Modi has shown his desire to emotionally torture and strip the dignity of women of all faiths through the Hijab Ban, which would make it impermissable to wear the veil in certain settings. The name clearly targets Muslim women, but women across all faiths, ethnicities and cultures wear a form of a veil.

The question must be asked: India is spoken about as the world’s largest democracy but is this really how a democracy behaves? First codifying the removal of such a basic right and then its judiciary upholding such a law?

International religious freedom is said to be of utmost importance to the State Department and the White House as the Administration creates its foreign policy. Religious freedom was critically important to the framers of our constitution as they wanted to ensure the state couldn’t discriminate against its citizens because of their faith. Yet, India, a noted ally and beneficiary of American arms sales, is still allowed to treat its own people without significant consequence.

The Modi government knows it can treat minority communities, Muslim or otherwise, with as much disdain, hatred and torture– physical or emotional, with really no pushback.

While Muslims in India may not have a say in how their leaders treat them, we as American Muslims do. We must impress upon our lawmakers and elected officials that heinous actions from one of our allies cannot be tolerated and they must act.

That is our call to action– stand up for those who have been silenced. A woman’s right to wear a veil, regardless of faith, has been stripped and we must not stand on the sidelines and normalize this kind of abuse.

You can build a future free from fear and bigotry.

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