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India’s Complex Position on Islamophobia

Context

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has recently adopted March 15 as ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ and released a draft document on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Relevance

GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Dimensions of the Article

  • What is Islamophobia?
  • Why has it become prominent?
  • Concessions made by OIC
  • India’s Stand
  • Why an improvement is needed in India’s Stand?
  • European Union’s Stand
  • China’s Position
  • Way Forward

What is Islamophobia?

  • Islamophibia refers to the negative perception and stereotyping of the followers of Islam because of their faith.
  • Islam is considered a highly orthodox religion by many which condones violence and violation of human rights.
  • This is heavily opposed by the OIC.

Why has it become prominent?

  • Al-Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and other terrorist attacks by radical Islamist organizations have casted doubt over the religious beliefs.
  • Suicide Bombings and the concept of Jihad has been understood with link to tenets of Islam.
  • Political benefits too at times have exacerbated the Islamophobia.
  • However, OIC has repeatedly said that these doings are not what Islam teaches.

Concession by OIC

  • OIC accepted the resolution under the previous framework which sought to promote tolerance, prevent discrimination and promote social harmony.
  • Accepted the call for dialogue based on respect for human rights and diversified religious beliefs.
  • High Visibility events were discarded and only March 15th was adopted for an annual event.

India’s Stand

  • India did not break consensus and hence accepted the resolution.
  • Criticized the resolution because of its emphasis on Islam and not other religions where people face similar stereotyping and persecution.
  • India’s historical record of accepting religious refugees was brought to light.
  • India did condemn Islamophobia along with other religions.

Why an improvement is needed in India’s Stand?

  • Pluralistic Society of India does not concern with Islamophobia since Muslims form an integral part of India.
  • India’s vision with the ideology of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas’ echoes India’s ruling dispensation’s inclusive nature which includes Muslims.
  • Focus on a single religion could make divisive camps based on religious identity.

European Union’s Stand

  • EU focused on individual rights and freedoms and not on protection of religion.
  • Focused of rights of non-believers.
  • Changing of religion was too considered by the EU.

China’s Position

  • OIC did not call out China for persecuting the Uighurs.
  • Islamabad Declaration too did not have any mention of China.
  • China sponsored the resolution.

Way Forward

Islamophobia needs to be addressed but its also important that simila protection is provided to other religions as well as the non-believers. Orthodoxy needs to be shed and religion should be made a private affair. Inclusive growth potential can’t be achieved by treading the divisive line along religion.

Source – The Hindu

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October 2022
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