UCA News
Contribute

Economic factors guide India's response to Gulf outrage over religious slur

Social media is full of exhortations to Hindus to resist being overwhelmed by Abrahamic religions
Protesters shout anti-India slogans during a demonstration in Karachi on June 7 against the remarks about Prophet Muhammad made by an official of India’s ruling party
Protesters shout anti-India slogans during a demonstration in Karachi on June 7 against the remarks about Prophet Muhammad made by an official of India’s ruling party. (Photo: AFP)
Published: June 08, 2022 10:26 AM GMT
Updated: June 10, 2022 06:35 AM GMT

The hateful blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was committed by a darling spokesperson of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules India. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi isolated the offender and blamed fringe groups for the hate speech.

The Muslim world, led by nations in the Persian Gulf, condemned the blasphemous statements made during a television show last week and joined in demanding an apology from India.

The ruling party announced the main culprit, its official spokesperson, advocate Nupur Sharma, had been suspended. Another spokesman was sacked for violating the party’s code of respecting all religions.

This would surprise every Muslim and Christian in India. For years now, they have heard BJP spokespersons, legislators, sadhus and even senior ministers abuse mostly Muslims but also Christians.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah alluded to Muslims as deemak or white ants, while others termed them vicious vermin to be exterminated. Calls for the genocide of Muslims and Christians have been made from religious platforms attended by well-known politicians. A cabinet minister once called for shooting them down.

The government, the party and the state apparatus of the National Commission of Human Rights and the National Minorities Commission have all dismissed these as sporadic incidents. A police case was indeed made out on the genocide threat, but nothing more has been heard from the government on that.

The beating up of pastors, disturbing of prayer meetings and waylaying of nuns have become commonplace, with no recognition and of course no apology.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India, whose data is widely accepted as the most accurate, estimates 506 hate crimes against the Christian community, including attacks on churches, breaking of Catholic icons including statues of Jesus Christ, and desecration of churches.

The beating up of pastors, disturbing of prayer meetings and waylaying of nuns have become commonplace, with no recognition and of course no apology.

The circumstances leading to the death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy as a prisoner of the state remain unacknowledged by the political apparatus.

This figured in the delegation-level talks during Modi’s visit to the Vatican this year during which he met with Pope Francis. The Vatican and international organizations including the US Department of State and UN special rapporteurs have in recent weeks pointed to the rapidly escalating targeted violence against Muslims and Christians.

This targeting, they have noted, is no longer by non-state actors. State governments have used bulldozers against Muslim property, enacted new laws against conversions, banned the hijab in educational institutions, and all but outlawed Christian and Muslim men marrying Hindu women.

Government agencies are seen as assisting and fanning a campaign against mosques allegedly built on the ruins of temples during the Islamic rule of a thousand years.

The government dismissed each one of the protests and reports as unwarranted, exaggerated or interfering in the internal affairs of India.

The RSS has been at the forefront of seeking control of mosques in the ancient towns of Varanasi and Mathura, the second said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna

The powerful Islamic group of nations had essentially remained quiet even as the Islamophobia wave peaked. What triggered the continental outrage was a screaming allusion during a television debate by a BJP woman leader on a wife of the prophet and his final journey.

Nupur Sharma continued to mock the founder of Islam as she harangued a Muslim participant in the political debate on TimesNow. The anchor, known to be close to the government, allowed her to vent her fury.

Indian Muslim religious and social leadership protested but to no avail. 

Then, in a withering comment on Twitter, Lolwah Al-Khater, assistant foreign minister and spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted how “Islamophobic discourse has reached dangerous levels in a country long known for its diversity and coexistence.”

She said that unless the government of India “officially and systemically” confronts hate speech, it would be considered a “deliberate insult” against 2 billion Muslims worldwide.

An advisory from Mohan Bhagwat, supreme leader of the militant Hindu Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), was the first sign that Modi had finally realized the gravity of the situation. Bhagwat said Hindus should not be targeting every mosque.

The RSS has been at the forefront of seeking control of mosques in the ancient towns of Varanasi and Mathura, the second said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

Iran joined Qatar and the Organization of Islamic States in protesting at government level. So have neighboring Pakistan and Muslim groups in other countries. Big business threatened to stop imports and some said they will weed out suspect Hindu hate mongers from their list of employees.

The advice of big business to the ruling party and the government to lie low, for the time being, has proved effective. But RSS and BJP cadres seem to be still straining at the leash

Experts point out that the Gulf countries have indulged India. “The Gulf is India’s lifeblood as far as dollar remittances are concerned. If the US contributed US$11.7 billion in remittances in 2017, the UAE’s contribution alone was $13.8 billion,” says Jawed Naqvi, a senior international journalist.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are equally critical sources of India’s dollar influx. Abu Dhabi gave away land for a Hindu temple to be constructed. Any action by even one of the countries in the Islamic world will therefore hit the Indian economy.

Government data available for 2018 shows about 32 million Indians live outside the country. In the last three years, inward remittances by Indians living abroad were about $248 billion. In 2021, remittances were $83 billion, of which about $41 billion came from Islamic nations.

India’s exports to four Islamic nations are worth $40 billion. These include buffalo meat, a backbone of the Indian dairy and leather sectors.

An economic boycott will severally impact the fortunes of India's massive corporate sector, which is also seen as a financier of the ruling group through anonymous electoral bonds whose detailed data the government keeps away from the parliament and media.

The advice of big business to the ruling party and the government to lie low, for the time being, has proved effective. But RSS and BJP cadres seem to be still straining at the leash.

Social media is full of exhortations to the Hindu masses to assert their rights and act if they are not to be overwhelmed by the Abrahamic religions. This so-called fringe group of religious extremists, which may be as many as 10 million people, remains highly motivated and on the loose.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
comment

Share your comments

1 Comments on this Story
DES COUTINHO
I thought the research on how much money involved was informative. But then reading an article in the Wire on religiosity this one made less sense. What appears to be the case is that for Muslim countries anything but the prophet and the Quran is allowed. So India can continue to bulldoze muslim properties, destroy mosques and the Arab world and its money will be safe. The mistake was to attack the Prophet. Bit like Xtians here. They have their red lines. Though apart from immunity for Bishops to commit sodomy rape a Xtianised version of the AFSPA I am pretty sure baby Jesus and the Bible would be fair game for the Hindu majority now in India. If you're not in the parochial religion village though it seems business as usual in India. There are votes in making India Hindu again. But if anyone could run the economy better and the people believed them they would take power in India. Religion is like Bollywood just the main sideshow here.
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia