Five Questions on Islamophobia and the Future of Muslims in India
In Episode Five of “Unpacking Islamophobia,” our guest is Kashmiri Muslim journalist, Raqib Hameed Naik, who discusses Hindu nationalism in India and the growing violence and intolerance against the country’s 200 million Muslims.
Naik provides an important historical overview of Hindu nationalism, the ideologues behind this political movement and their goal of achieving a Hindu-only nation. He talks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an openly Hindu nationalist party and under whose rule India has witnessed a drastic rise in anti-Muslim violence and polarization. Naik touches on the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in the state of Gujarat, which at the time was led by Modi, describing the deadly violence as “our mini Rwandan genocide.” He argues that “Modi emerged from the tragedy [Gujarat pogroms] as a powerful, extremist, menacing Hindu leader with a strong base of Hindu supremacists.”
Naik talks about the situation in Kashmir, the popularity of right-wing conspiracy theories, and overall Islamophobia in India today, where under the ruling BJP, the government has passed a number of discriminatory measures and legislation aimed at disenfranchising the country’s Muslims. He notes the near daily accounts of hate speech and rallies from Indian politicians and far-right Hindu religious leaders, and warns that the “future looks very bleak and grim and the overall climate that the BJP has created in India is deeply troubling for Muslims and other minorities”.
Arsalan Iftikhar is Senior Researcher for the Bridge Initiative at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. He is a prominent human rights lawyer, an internationally recognized researcher on the topic of Islamophobia, and a global media commentator. He is the author of several books including FEAR OF A MUSLIM PLANET: Global Islamophobia in the New World Order and Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms which President Jimmy Carter called “an important book that shows Islamophobia must be addressed urgently”. Throughout his career, Arsalan has been a regular on-air commentator for National Public Radio (NPR) and his interviews have appeared on prominent global media outlets like CNN, Al-Jazeera English, BBC World News, The Economist, New York Times, Rolling Stone, NBC News “Meet The Press” & many more. A native of Chicago, Arsalan was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis; where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees.
Raqib Naik is a Muslim journalist from Kashmir and founder of Hindutva Watch, a research project that documents the rise of Hindu nationalism and the persecution of religious minorities in India, which has been described by The Washington Post as one of India’s only and most comprehensive real-time datasets of hate crimes and hate speeches. For his work and expertise on Hindu nationalism, he has been featured and quoted in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Intercept, American Kahani, BBC, Daily Express UK, Tech Crunch, and others. He has delivered numerous talks and lectures at various events and universities, including the U.S. Congress, the International Religious Freedom Summit, Harvard University, MIT, University of Maryland, Ryerson University and McGill University.