Indians unite against Muslim hate crimes
Killings spark nationwide outrage
ANEW campaign #Notinmyname is sweeping India and some major international cities against a recent streak of Muslim killings near the Indian capital.
The campaign was started just three days ago by Saba Dewan, a New Delhi-based film-maker, and two other film-makers and activists, Rahul Roy and Sanjay Kak.
As part of the campaign, protests against the Muslim hate crimes were planned for yesterday in Indian cities, including Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata, as well as London, Toronto, and Boston.
The movement was sparked by national outrage after a Muslim teenager was stabbed to death last week on suspicion of possessing beef, an officer said on Sunday.
Police arrested one of his alleged attackers on Sunday.
Cow slaughter is banned in most Indian states whose predominantly Hindu population consider the animal to be sacred.
But Hindu hardliners and cow vigilante groups have taken to enforcing the law themselves ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government came to power in 2014.
Last Thursday evening, 16-yearold Junaid Khan was killed and three others were injured in a fight that erupted on a train soon after it left Delhi for the town of Mathura.
Police officer Kamal Deep Goyal said the fight started over an argument over seats on the train. A group of more than a dozen men accused Junaid and his family, who were returning home after shopping for Eid, of having beef in their bags.
“They started abusing us, saying we were Muslims and traitors. They said we should go back to Pakistan,” Junaid’s brother Shakir said.
A group of 10 to 12 young Hindu men pulled out knives and stabbed the three brothers. A photo shows the blood-drenched compartment.
Goyal said the police were hunting for other attackers in the group.
The attack was the latest against Muslims who make up about 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population.
In April, a Muslim dairy farmer was lynched in the north-western state of Rajasthan for allegedly smuggling cows.
Opposition groups have criticised Modi for failing to speak out against the violence targeted at Muslims, accusing his party of sectarian bias.
“An atmosphere of hatred and Islamophobia is being created in the country,” said Asaduddin Owaisi, the head of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (All India Council of the Union of Muslims).
The recent attack brought Dewan to tears. “Junaid’s killing was completely shattering. That really agitated me. I thought if someone will not speak up, I’ll protest.”
Dewan turned to Facebook, creating an event page. “In that emotional moment, I wrote on Facebook, asking shouldn’t we all be protesting as citizens,” she said.
Dewan got an overwhelming response. More than 5 000 people in the New Delhi chapter of the movement alone are expected to join the protest, including families of victims.
Following the killing of Junaid and others, Muslims all over India observed #BlackEid, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadaan wearing black armbands during prayers as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the religious hate crimes.
But Junaid’s death was met with silence from the ruling right-wing Bhartiya Janta Party. A day after the killing, not a single BJP minister showed up at the president’s traditional Iftar, a religious observance of Ramadaan where the community breaks the fast together.
When in April, a 55-year-old dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched for transporting cattle, not a single BJP minister condemned the act.
“The attacks are at the level of systematic violence and the state is maintaining complete silence, which is creating a sense of impunity for people who can go out and lynch a Muslim,” Dewan said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under fire for not condemning the incidents, the latest of which claimed a youth on a train.