As Muslims and as Americans, our inaction is not an option. Despite the physical barrier of oceans separating us, our efforts are not as futile as they may feel.
Here’s What American Muslims Can Do to Help Support Indian Muslims
There is no ambiguity about the current reality of India. To be clear, a pogrom against Indian-Muslims is taking place. The riots in New Delhi, incited by Hindu mobs, have claimed the lives of over 40 people and injured hundreds more. Not to mention that thousands of Muslim families are left homeless, injured, and jailed. This is the violence that erupted in the wake of India’s new anti-Muslim citizen’s amendment. And yet, India’s land is no stranger to the macabre plunder of an entire community’s dignity.
In 1964, in Kolkata, riots between Hindus and Muslims left hundreds dead. The aftermath of this riot significantly ghettoized Muslims in Kolkata. In 1983, in the state of Assam, 1,800 Muslims of Bengali origin lost their lives at the hands of Hindu nationalists. Official records show that the 1992 Bombay riots, ignited by the destruction of the Babri Mosque, claimed the lives of 900 people. The current massacre at play shows an onerous potential that it may morph into something like the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in which over 3,000 Sikhs were murdered.
It is rather telling and perplexing that the carnage of the New Delhi riots settled as a backdrop while Prime Minister Narendra Modi warmly welcomed U.S president Donald Trump. So while Modi with his Hindu- nationalist ideals and Trump with his white nationalist ideals dined to the discordant tune of a pogrom, the rest of the world responded with a dissonant stillness.
As Muslims and as Americans, our inaction is not an option. Despite the physical barrier of oceans separating us, our efforts are not as futile as they may feel. Our responsibility to utilize our voices and resources can be emphasized in the following hadith:
The Prophet (SAW) said,
The best form of jihad (striving) is to speak a word of truth (haqq) in the face of an oppressor.”
So here is what you can do to help.
Call Out U.S Politicians Who Support Modi
Although for years Modi has been denied entry to the U.S due to his long history of avarice and Hindi-nationalist sentiments, there is a longer list of U.S politicians who have expressed affinity towards him. In September, 2019 President Trump clasped hands with Prime Minister Modi at a rally in Houston, Texas. The attendees eradicate an ambiguity about who supports Modi’s proclivity and indifference towards anti-Muslim violence.
These are the names of the politicians to call out:
- New York Representative Tom Souzzi
- Representative Sheila Jackson
- Representative Carolyn Maloney
- Representative Danny Davis
- Illinois Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi
- Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard
- Representative Pete Olson of Texas
- Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
- Republican Senator John Cornyn
- North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer
- Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
At one point or another, some of these individuals have lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For the others, silence and neutrality equates to complicity and violence.
Call Out and Boycott Companies that Support Modi’s Violent Narratives
There are several prominent American founders and CEOs of large companies who have failed to acknowledge the atrocity of Modi’s rule. They include:
- The Founder of Facebook: 5 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg enthusiastically held a town hall event for Modi at his company’s headquarters. During Modi’s visit to Houston, Texas, Zuckerberg applauded him for his commitment to “digital India”, despite the harrowing fact that this was one month after Modi had imposed an internet shutdown in Kashmir. At that point, it was the fourth month of Kashmir’s internet shutdown and the longest internet shutdown in a democracy.
- The founder of Microsoft: In September 2019, Bill Gates presented Modi with his company’s prestigious “Global GoalKeeper Award.” Modi was being recognized for his “Clean India campaign”, as well as for expanding the use of toilets across the country. This created an uproar from various human rights groups and Muslim celebrities like Riz Ahmed and Jameela Jamil. But Gates only continued to opine the Prime minister for his “bravery.”
- Co-Founder of Bridgewater Associates: Last year, Ray Dalio praised Modi for India’s economic growth. He even went so far as to delineate Modi as “one of the greatest leaders of the world.”
- Chairman for Qualcomm: Paul Jacobs declared that Modi’s government was truly moving in the right direction.
Lobby for Politicians Who Have Called Out Modi and Vote
It is a critical time for the American political landscape right now. We are approaching the 2020 presidential campaign, and currently, the democratic primaries are taking place. Although there are many politicians and lobby groups who support Modi, there are those who vehemently oppose him and stand united with American Muslims. We must vote for them. There is also the fact that those who support Donald Trump most certainly back Modi. Trump and Modi are two sides of the same coin. Modi has already begun to endorse Trump and to encourage American-Indians to give him their vote.
Here is a list of those politicians who have called out Modi and his aggressive campaign against Indian Muslims and other minorities:
- Bernie Sanders: Sanders has been an incredible ally to American Muslims. He has been extremely vocal in calling out Modi and India’s atrocities. During Trump’s visit to India, he put out a tweet slamming Trump’s indifference towards the New Delhi rights calling it a failure of leadership on human rights.
Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, "That's up to India." This is a failure of leadership on human rights.https://t.co/tUX713Bz9Y
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 26, 2020
- Tom Steyer: Steyer is a former U.S presidential candidate who followed in Sander’s footsteps in denouncing Modi. He put out the following tweet:
Whether it is Donald Trump’s travel ban or Prime Minister Modi stoking violence against Muslims, we must stand against Islamophobia in all its forms. (1/2)
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) February 27, 2020
- Congresswoman Ilhan Omar: A Somali refugee and Muslim congresswoman, Omar has shown no reticence when it comes to condemning India and injustice in all forms.
PM Modi's rule in India has corresponded with the spread of violent Hindu nationalism and hate crimes against Muslims.
The United States should stand for religious freedom in India and the fair treatment of all religious minorities. https://t.co/QsfOJEbos2
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 24, 2019
Contact Omar to support her and encourage her to continue being vocal here.
- Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib: A Palestinian-American congresswoman, Tlaib has been a burst of light for the American-Muslim community. An advocate for justice, she has been vehemently opposed to the Indian government’s atrocities. In November 2019, she presented the U.S house of representatives with a resolution alleging human rights violations in Kashmir.
Contact her to support her and encourage her to continue being vocal here, or by following her Twitter @RashidaTlaib.
Work With and Support Advocacy Groups Who Have Condemned India
Advocacy groups lobby Congress by encouraging their members to visit their representatives and by hiring their own lobbyists. They are an incredible way to ensure your voice and concerns are heard by congress. You can use the following database to find a list of advocacy groups working on issues you are interested in by clicking here.
In addition, CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) is a prominent civil rights group that is continually working towards establishing justice and representing humanity. They also often put out “action alerts” regarding issues pertinent to American Muslims, encouraging all to take action. The following is their “action alert” to support Indian-Muslims:
Partake in Peaceful Protests and Rallies
Protests are an effective and peaceful way of enacting substantial reform. When it is possible, try to attend any protests that support Indian- Muslims by:
- Staying updated on social media platforms for the latest protests in your city.
- Following popular Muslim American Activists like Omar Sulieman, Linda Sarsour, Yasir Qadhi and Khaled Beydoun to stay informed of events in your cities.
- If you have the means and resources to do so, organize a protest in front of the Indian Embassy in your city.
Write to Your Local Representatives
Use your voice and write a letter to your local representatives. The following are links to find out who your local representatives are and how to contact them:
Refuse to Be Silent
It is easy to lose ourselves in an abyss of forlornness. The global Muslim community finds itself fragmented. But our religion has given us the tools to heal and move forward. Our Creator has given us a voice and a duty. Our means and resources fluctuate from individual to individual, however we cannot allow ourselves to remain stagnant when plunder is the daily reality for so many.
So whether you raise your voices through social media, at a peaceful rally, through letters to politicians, or by boycotting, be emphatic in your denouncement of injustice. Allah SWT says in the Quran:
“O you who believe, be persistently standing firm for Allah as witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, for that is nearer to righteousness. Fear Allah, for verily, Allah is aware of what you do” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:8).