Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017: The Year Islamophobia Went Mainstream

Islamophobia is no longer extreme; the year 2017 saw it go mainstream in Europe, India, the United States and several other parts of the world.

Openly Islamophobic Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States in 2017. India's largest state of Uttar Pradesh elected rabidly anti-Muslim chief minister Yogi Adiyanath who was hand-picked by Muslim-hating Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017.  Neo-Nazis made significant electoral gains with their anti-Islam rhetoric in several European nations while Burma and Israel continued to get away with the murder of  innocent Muslim civilians in 2017.

These alarming trends are reminiscent of the rise of Nazi Party led by Germany's Adolf Hitler who brought disaster to Europe and the rest of the world less than a century ago.

Trump's Muslim Ban:

The year of Islamophobia began in earnest on January 20, 2017 with the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump who called for "total and complete shutdown" of  Muslims entering the United States during his successful electoral campaign. Among the first executive orders he signed was a "Muslim Ban" from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Then came an avalanche of a large number of Islamophobic tweets and retweets from Trump's twitter account. Some recent Trump retweets were of tweets from Britain First's Jayda Fransen. These tweets and retweets were swiftly denounced by top British and Dutch officials. Trump did not apologize.

Trump developed a pattern of using terror attacks to tweet against Muslims while ignoring similar or worse terror attacks by others.

Trump closed the year with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a recognition that prior US administrations had withheld pending negotiations and final settlement of the issues between Israelis and Palestinians.

Hindu Nazis in India:

Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

In an op ed titled "Hitler's Hindus: The Rise and Rise of India's Nazi-Loving Nationalists" published by leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, author Shrenik Rao has raised alarm bells about "large and growing community of Indian Hindu Nazis, who are digitally connected to neo-Nazi counterparts across the world".

Rao talks about Nagpur, a town he describes as the "epicenter of Hindu Nationalism", where he found  ‘Hitler’s Den’ pool parlor "that shocked me on a round-India trip 10 years ago was no outlier. Admiration for Nazism – often reframed with a genocidal hatred for Muslims – is rampant in the Hindu nationalist camp, which has never been as mainstream as it is now".

Hindu nationalists in India have a long history of admiration for the Nazi leader, including his "Final Solution". In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Golwalkar, considered the founder of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

Islamophobia in Europe:

Dutch expert Cas Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia summed up the rise of Islamophobes in Europe well when he said: "The far right in Europe is more popular today than it was at any time in postwar history".

Alternative für Deutschland (AFD), a modern re-incarnation of Hitler's Nazi Party, stunned the world by becoming the third largest party in German Bundestag in 2017.

Last year, AFD's anti-Islam policies replaced its anti-EU focus with the slogan “Islam is not a part of Germany” emerging from the party’s spring 2017 conference.

In Austria, far-right Freedom Party candidate Sebastian Kurz was recently elected chancellor on the party's anti-Islam platform.

Earlier in 2017, the Dutch anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders became the second largest force in parliament.

The French National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen received nearly 34 percent of votes in the May 2017 presidential run-off that was won by Emmanuel Macron.

Neo-Nazis and Hindu Nazis on Social Media:

The advent and growth of online social media have enabled a large and growing community of Indian Hindu Nazis connected to neo-Nazi counterparts in Europe and America.  This came to light a few years ago when the Norwegian white supremacist terrorist Anders Behring Breivik's manifesto against the "Islamization of Western Europe" was heavily influenced by the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric which is typical of the Nazi-loving Hindu Nationalists like late Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973), and his present-day Sangh Parivar followers and sympathizers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who currently rule several Indian states. This Hindutva rhetoric which infected Breivik has been spreading like a virus on the Internet, particularly on many of the well-known Islamophobic hate sites that have sprouted up in Europe and America in recent years. In fact, much of the Breivik manifesto is cut-and-pastes of anti-Muslim blog posts and columns that validated his worldview.

"It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical," Breivick wrote in his manifesto. The Christian Science Monitor has reported that "in the case of India, there is significant overlap between Breivik’s rhetoric and strains of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of coexistence with Muslims. Human rights monitors have long decried such rhetoric in India for creating a milieu for communal violence, and the Norway incidents are prompting calls here to confront the issue."

Indian Textbooks Praise Nazis:

Adulation for for Hitler has found its way into Indian textbooks to influence young impressionable minds. Here's how Rao describes it:

In 2004, when now-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, school textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board portrayed Hitler as a hero, and glorified fascism.

The tenth-grade social studies textbook had chapters entitled "Hitler, the Supremo," and "Internal Achievements of Nazism." The section on the "Ideology of Nazism" reads: "Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race." The tenth-grade social studies textbook, published by the state of Tamil Nadu in 2011 (with multiple revised editions until 2017) includes chapters glorifying Hitler, praising his "inspiring leadership," "achievements" and how the Nazis "glorified the German state" so, "to maintain a German race with Nordic elements, [Hitler] ordered the Jews to be persecuted."

Mein Kampf has also gone mainstream, becoming a "must-read" management strategy book for India’s business school students. Professors teaching strategy lecture about how a short, depressed man in prison made a goal of taking over the world and built a strategy to achieve it.

Modi and Trump:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has built his entire political career on the intense hatred of  Muslims. US President Donald Trump built his successful presidential campaign on Islamophobia and xenophobia. That's what the two men have in common.

Just as white racists form the core of Trump's support base in America, the Modi phenomenon in India has been fueled by Hindu Nationalists whose leaders have praised Adolph Hitler for his hatred of Jews.

M.S. Golwalkar, a Hindu Nationalist who Mr. Modi has described as "worthy of worship" wrote the following about Muslims in his book "We":

 "Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."


The simultaneous rise of Neo Nazis in the West and the Hindu Nazis in India represents a very serious and growing threat to world peace. Their combined menace can lead to a devastating third world war with nuclear weapons if these trends are not halted and reversed soon. I hope good sense prevails among the voters in these countries to pull the world back from the brink of human catastrophe.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hindu Nationalists Love Nazis

A Conversation With White Nationalist Jared Taylor on Race in America

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Modi and Trump

Anders Breivik: Islamophobia in Europe and India

Hindu Nationalism Goes Global

Hindutva: The Legacy of the British Raj


Ejaz N. said...

Most polls show Americans have negative perception of Islam and Muslims. The data from Pew Research Center and other studies will surprise many

Riaz Haq said...

Ejaz: "Most polls show Americans have negative perception of Islam and Muslims. The data from Pew Research Center and other studies will surprise many"

CNN's Van Jones on American Muslims: "American Muslim community has the lowest crime rate, the highest entrepreneurship, the highest educational attainment for women in the country (US). They are the model American community. And so, when you have people who are now afraid to come here--that's starting to happen--you have geniuses from Pakistan, who are from Indonesia, who now (think to themselves) "I'm not safe here". That becomes an economic problem for America long term. So that we're starting to do stuff here that doesn't make good sense for what has made us great so far."


Riaz Haq said...

From @conradhackett


Americans killed annually by

All Islamic jihadist terrorists 9
Armed toddlers 21
Lightning 31
Lawnmowers 69
Being hit by a bus 264
Falling out of bed 737
Being shot by another American 11,737

http://www.rss.org.uk/RSS/Get_involved/Statistic_of_the_year/RSS/Get_involved/Statistic_of_the_Year_.aspx …


Ravi Krishna said...

Will Riaz try to explain why muslims are universally hated?

Riaz Haq said...

RK: "Will Riaz try to explain why muslims are universally hated?"

First, I challenge the premise of your question. There's been a lot of resistance from large numbers of Americans and Europeans against anti-Muslim hate groups. Many Muslims and Pakistanis have been elected as mayors and members of parliament across the Western world in the last few years. The most prominent is British Pakistani Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan of London.

Second, blaming victims of hate is as old as as the history of hate itself; only the victims have changed over the years.
The oldest form of this is mysogeny: blaming women for discrimination and violence against them.
An entire field of study called "victimology" has been devoted to it.

Let me quote Martin Niemöller who's is perhaps best remembered for the following quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Riaz Haq said...

#India, #Pakistan national security advisors met in #Bangkok a day after #Christmas #Jadhav family meeting in #Islamabad


Sources told The Sunday Express that the December 26 meeting between Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Lt General Nasir Khan Janjua (retd) took place at a ‘neutral venue’ in the Thai capital.

A day after the mother and wife of retired Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav met him in Islamabad in exceptional and controversial circumstances, the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan met for talks in Bangkok. Sources told The Sunday Express that the December 26 meeting between Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Lt General Nasir Khan Janjua (retd) took place at a ‘neutral venue’ in the Thai capital.

The venue and date of the meeting were not linked to Pakistan’s treatment of Jadhav’s wife and mother. It had been decided between the two sides earlier this month, and it was, as sources described it, a “pre-scheduled meeting”.

Official Indian sources refused to comment on the subject.

Besides the offices of the NSA, sources indicated that the top hierarchy of the foreign ministries of the two countries was also in the loop about the meeting. As Pakistan’s NSA is a retired Lt General, Rawalpindi-based General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army was also kept informed of Tuesday’s meeting between the two NSAs.

On Thursday, Janjua met former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif at Sharif’s Jati Umra residence in Raiwind. As per Pakistan media reports, the meeting, which reportedly lasted five hours, included discussions on matters of national security, relations with Pakistan’s neighbouring countries and terrorism.

Dawn newspaper cited a PML-N leader quoting Sharif as saying at the meeting that “There is a dire need to improve ties with the neighbouring countries.” It also added that the former prime minister said he always talked about friendly relations with Pakistan’s neighbours because, without them, problems being faced by the people of the region could not be solved. “War is no solution to any problem,” he said.

The Bangkok meeting came in the wake of a sharp statement by the Pakistani NSA on India-Pakistan relations. On December 18, addressing a national security seminar in Islamabad, Janjua said, “The stability of the South Asian region hangs in a delicate balance, and the possibility of nuclear war cannot be ruled out.” He also stated that special efforts are needed to maintain balance in South Asia, which is “a mistake away” from a major catastrophe.

It was not the first meeting between the two NSAs in a third country. In December 2015, the two NSAs, along with the two foreign secretaries, had met, again in Bangkok, which was not revealed till after the meeting. That was followed, within days, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise stop-over in Lahore, to wish then-Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on his birthday on December 25.

Meetings in third countries afford the two officials some space, away from the limelight, which the continual gaze of media on both sides of the border entails. It also gets around the tricky issue of the Pakistan NSA meeting leaders of Kashmir’s Hurriyat Conference, something which had led to cancellation of his visit to New Delhi in August 2015.

Tuesday’s meeting in Bangkok, which is believed to have lasted more than two hours, was kept under wraps, but it is believed that the Indian NSA raised the issue of infiltration of militants into Kashmir from across the Line of Control (LoC) with active support from the Pakistan army. The LoC has been very active this year, with more than 820 ceasefire violations recorded so far. This has included use of indirect firing weapons and cross-LoC raids by Border Action Teams. The Indian Army has lost 31 soldiers on the LoC in 2017.

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamophobia, #casteism characterize #Hindu comics Amar Chitra Katha. #BJP #Modi #Hinduism


since its debut in 1967, ACK has also helped supply impressionable generations of middle-class children a vision of “immortal” Indian identity wedded to prejudiced norms. ACK’s writing and illustrative team (led by Pai as the primary “storyteller”) constructed a legendary past for India by tying masculinity, Hinduism, fair skin, and high caste to authority, excellence, and virtue. On top of that, his comics often erased non-Hindu subjects from India’s historic and religious fabric. Consequently, ACK reinforced many of the most problematic tenets of Hindu nationalism—tenets that partially drive the platform of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, currently under fire domestically and internationally for policies and rhetoric targeting religious minorities and lower castes.

Yet millions of children—myself included—revered “Uncle Pai” for creating a popular avenue to an Indian heritage, however limited. Like many other Indian diaspora kids, my mother brought her own collection when she immigrated to the United States as a 9-year-old in 1973. My family had built a library of some 90 issues by the time I began to read them, tattered from decades of swapping between cousins. When I was a boy growing up in upstate New York, my parents had no Indian friends or nearby relatives. We only spoke in English and ate burritos more often than dal bhat.

The heroes of ACK became my superheroes long before I discovered Spider-Man or the Flash. They also became my first window into a culture I barely knew. I didn’t care that the protagonists I was reading about were drawn with white skin. I was unaware of the broader, ongoing effort by Hindu nationalists to define a doctrine devaluing lower castes, women, tribal populations, and religious minorities. I didn’t understand how ideals of obedience to authority—something the comics taught—can feed systemic inequality. I was just reading about heroes who made me feel stronger than I was, and who would teach me, I believed, how to be Indian.

* * *

ACK defines Indian identity via stories—which naturally appealed to a bookish child like me who constantly escaped into the worlds of Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, and C.S. Lewis. Most histories in the comics feature virtuous Hindus who fight against evil rulers, an encroaching Muslim horde, or arrogant British imperialists. The religious stories are drawn from (usually Hindu) epics, sacred texts, and folktales, and they frequently weave the same gods and heroes among minor vignettes and massive story arcs. Though many ACK issues could stand alone, roughly 30 pages at a time the series constructed a limited and tonally consistent India sanitized through a distinctively Hindu lens.

While many scholars reject the notion of a single Hindu doctrine, they have some opponents. In 2008, Hindu nationalist students at Delhi University protested the inclusion of A.K. Ramanujan’s landmark essay “Three Hundred Ramayanas” in the history syllabus. The protestors alleged that it demeaned Hinduism to imply nonclassical versions of the epic were equally legitimate. Under a renewed wave of dissent in 2011, the university dropped the essay from the syllabus.

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamophobia rampant in #India’s school. #Muslim children being bullied while teachers turn a blind eye in #Modi’s India. #BJP #Hindutva


‘I hate Muslims’: A book uncovers the bullying faced by Muslim children in many Indian schools
Nazia Erum’s book tells of Muslim children being beaten up and called terrorists by their classmates and teachers who look the other way, or worse.

My neighbour Arifa, a forty-five-year-old art curator, is the mother of two boys, who studied in the Lotus Valley International School on the Noida-Greater Noida expressway. A major terrorist attack had occurred the night before. Saad, her ten-year-old younger son, was then in Class 5. In his classroom, the newspaper was lying on the teacher’s desk as the students waited for their English class to start. The teacher walked in, picked up the newspaper and read aloud the headlines about the attack to the class. “What is happening in the world!” she exclaimed with a sigh as she sat down.

Suddenly, one of the students called out Saad’s name loudly. “Saaad, yeh kya kar diya tumne? [What did you do, Saaad?]”
There was silence in the class. The words stuck in Saad’s throat. He felt all eyes on him, waiting for him to say something. He was hot and angry. But he couldn’t find the words to retaliate. The question settled uncomfortably in the classroom, filling the air with tension. Through the incident, the teacher did not bother to look up. “I kept waiting for my teacher to react and scold the classmate, but she didn’t react. She kept sitting there in front of us without saying a word. After a while she stood up and began the class. I was silent, I didn’t respond and kept sitting there. I didn’t really know what to do.”

Arifa says the unmistakable changes came in after the national election campaigns in 2014. “People just became very in-your-face with their feelings about Muslims. And this I noticed was being reflected in their children at school. Bullying had always existed, but it was different before, largely comprising childish rebukes and stupid, dumb things being said to each other in schools. This has changed now. When a Muslim student is bullied it is on pronounced religious lines. Now he is called Baghdadi, Bangladeshi, Pakistani or simply a terrorist. Everyone’s speech is borrowed from the language used in the news [channels].”

While such slurs have been used since the 1990s, the tone and intensity have changed, especially over the last five years. Earlier the remarks were innocuous and infrequent. Now they occur more often and are marked by hostility rather than humour. Not that humour justifies the taunts. It shows how deeply entrenched the association of a Muslim to terror is. The context is different now and possibly feeds on the changes – global terrorism in the name of Islam has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years with ISIL (or ISIS) alone responsible for 95% of deaths from claimed terrorist attacks.

At the same time, the past decade has seen a rise in Hindu right-wing sentiment within India and a slew of distorted narratives that portray Muslims as invaders, anti-national and a threat to national security. These took centre stage in the run-up to the polarising national elections of 2014. From my conversations with many others across the country, it seems this consciousness has now been handed down to the children of our country.

Arifa’s elder son, Raffat, was called a “terrorist” casually in a fight when he was seventeen years old in 2016.
Arifa was appalled and immediately contacted the mother of the name-caller through the class WhatsApp group. “But your kid also called my child names! He called him fat!” was all that the mother had to say.

Haseeb R. said...

There are open minded Hindus in India. Here is one:
A truthful post on FB by Priyanka Goenka, an unbiased hindu from India... :

"Under Muslims rule India was the richest country, amounting to almost 27% of world GDP, Muslims united this nation into one entity, gave it an identity. Prior to Muslims arrival for almost 1000 years India was divided into several nations fighting each other. Muslims gave most beautiful architectural building of the world.

Muslims gave education system, specially prior to Muslims there was no history recording except stories.

While half the world in 11th to 13th century was being plundered, burnt, raped, destroyed by Mongols including Muslim lands, it was Muslims who fought, sacrificed their lives and protected India from the savage Mongols. This in itself is a great service to India.

Today the stupid HINDUTVA don't remember the brutal role of British which plundered India for 200 years and reduced GDP from 27% of world to less than 4%. British policies killed over 4 million Indians. It is their legacy of "Divide & Rule" which BJP is following.

Muslims are nothing to be ashamed of their history, infact they are the makers of India!"

Parvati Goenka post 👇🏽

Riaz Haq said...

India’s pre-colonial economy considered as a golden age of prosperity under Mughal period, amounting to almost 27% of world GDP, said former union minister Shashi Tharoor on a recent visit to Australia for Melbourne Writers Festivals 2017.
The Congress MP appearing on national channel ABC’s #QandA (Question and Answer) on September 04, 2017, described at length how India’s textiles, dominated mostly by Muslims, were systematically destroyed by the British.

“The British came to one of the richest countries in the world when the GDP was almost 27% in the 17th century, 23% in the18th. But, over 200 years of exploitation, loot and destruction reduced India to a poster child for third world poverty”, he said in reply to a question about the British rule in India.

“But when they left India in 1947, 90% of the population was living under below poverty level. Literacy rate was below 17% and growth rate from 1900 to 1947 was a meager 0.001%”, he said.
“The fact is in the name of free trade the British came in and destroyed the free trade that had made India leading exporter of textiles.

“The British soldiers smashed looms so people couldn’t practice their craft. They imposed punitive duties and taxes on the export of Indian textiles while lifting duties on import of British cloth”, he said.

“Cities like Dhaka and Murshidabad were depopulated. In one notorious incident weavers’ thumbs were cut so that they could not operate on looms.

“India’s textile industry was systematically destroyed by the British”, he added.

India’s trade was in a healthy state and it became the largest economy by 1700, amounting to almost 27% of world GDP, until the mid-18th century, prior to British rule.

This is not the first time Tharoor praises for Muslim rulers. Earlier in August 2017, speaking at Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Bhutan’s capital Thimpu, Tharoor said that he did not regard Muslim rulers as foreigners.

“I am talking about the British who came and ruled us for the benefit of a country far away. For the Prime Minister, Muslim rulers who originally came to India to rule but stayed in India, assimilated and intermarried are also considered foreigners. To me they are not foreigners. If they stole and looted, they spent their loot here. They did not send it back to another country like the British,” Tharoor is quoted as saying in a report by NDTV.

“To me they are not foreigners. If they stole and looted, they spent their loot here. They did not send it back to another country like the British,” Tharoor said in a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated claim of “1,200 years of foreign rule”.


Riaz Haq said...

#India's 'internet #Hindus' are in love with #Israel. #Islamophobia #Hindutva #NetanyahuInIndia - Israel News - http://Haaretz.com


Hindu nationalists incessantly tweet their support and admiration for Israel, an online force that helped push Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a landslide victory in 2014

Saudamini Jain Jan 15, 2018 4:14 PM
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.834903

In New Delhi, Anshul Saxena spends three to four hours a day on Israel.

The 26-year-old gathers information from right-wing websites, blogs, Wikipedia, the American Jewish Committee website and India-Israel friendship forums. He has set up alerts to be notified of any India-Israel news, and tries to tweet about Israel every day.

>> The Indian Jews at the Heart of the Netanyahu-Modi Love Affair

skip - Netanyahu arrival
Back in November, he announced a celebration party when he first heard that Netanyahu would be visiting. Sometimes, the tweets are about Israel in general and the lessons India can learn from it.

A few months earlier, in July, he wrote: “Israel revived its Hebrew, whose fate was similar to Sanskrit about 7 decades ago. India should learn from Israel, We can revive Sanskrit.”

skip - Hebrew/Sanskrit
>>Netanyahu's India agenda: Business, ceremonies and a little Bollywood

Other times, he’s inspired by the news. Last month, he wrote, comparing Jerusalem to the northern Indian city where a 16th-century mosque was demolished by right-wing Hindu mobs 25 years ago: “India should shift embassy from Tel Aviv to #Jerusalem. And also recognize that Temple Mount belongs to the only Jewish people. What Ayodhya Ram Mandir to Hindus, same Temple Mount to Jews.”

skip - Jerusalem/Adhoya
The goal is to convince Indians that Israel is their country’s best friend. Saxena has nearly 70,000 followers (and won about 5,000 new followers within six hours of Netanyahu’s arrival on Sunday.) He is one of the 1,861 accounts followed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

His tweet about Hebrew inspiring a revival of Sanskrit has been retweeted 1,275 times and liked 1,982 times. The ones about Netanyahu have been retweeted a few hundred times.

Saxena drafts his tweets on a Word document – sometimes hundreds on a given theme. “The first thing I try is to make them informative and not controversial or humorous,” he says. Then he forwards them to his friends – his “core team” of 50 people. On a group chat, they write their views and choose hashtags.

Anshul Saxena at a pro-Israel event he organized on a south Delhi street corner, where he handed out local dishes to passersby, January 2018.Manu Misra
Keep updated: Sign up to our newsletter
Email*Sign up

“There are groups on Twitter, WhatsApp, social media .... Each person has 500 to 1,000 people, some are in 100 to 200 groups,” he says. “They’re all pro-Israeli as well. So ... it keeps getting forwarded and circulated on social media.”

In the summer of 2015, when Modi announced plans to visit Israel, tens of thousands of people (both Israelis and Indians – largely Hindus – in India and the diaspora) celebrated India-Israel brotherhood, and condemned the Palestinians, Pakistanis and Muslims in general. There were flags, quotes and memes. #IndiaWithIsrael trended a second time within a few days when India abstained from a July vote against Israel at the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Over the next two years, Saxena campaigned for #WorstIranDeal (“Iran Nuclear Deal is not only Threat to our friend @Israel but for the whole World, he tweeted), and #IndiaAgainstPalestinianTerror (“I started it in the evening, but it failed, so I started again the next day, only then did it become successful”).

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.834903

Riaz Haq said...

A leading member of #Germany's anti-#Islam AfD has resigned after converting to Islam. #Islamophobia


A German politician who was a member of a controversial far-right party that believes "Islam is not a part of Germany" has resigned amid reports that he has converted to Islam.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that Arthur Wagner left the Alternative for Germany (AfD), where he was a member in the eastern state of Brandenburg, citing personal reasons for his decision.

But speaking to Germany’s Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday, AfD spokesman Daniel Friese claimed that Wanger had converted to Islam and that the AfD had “no problem with that.”

The anti-immigration party received a surge in support in Germany's 2017 election, securing a record 12.6% of the vote and raising pressure on embattled Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had been outspoken in her support for refugees and migrants settling in the country.

Starting out as a Eurosceptic party less than a decade ago, the AfD capitalized on popular discontent about Merkel's policy on refugees, particularly in her home state of Bavaria, using openly anti-Muslim rhetoric in its campaign material. The party won 94 seats in parliament, although two of those members have since left.

While widely perceived as anti-Muslim, AfD officials have argued that while they reject multiculturalism, they support freedom of religion.

Wagner, who was once a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), joined the AfD in 2015, as the party began ramping up its anti-Muslim rhetoric. A manifesto approved by the party a year later even called for banning the call to prayer and the full face veil in public.

The Russian-German politician was tight-lipped on the reasons for his reported conversion, telling national newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that the matter was “my private business” but insisted that the AfD had not pressured him to leave their ranks.

The AfD’s stances are on the fringes of German politics but polls show they have only increased their popularity since the September election, while Merkel's winning CDU has failed to assemble a majority coalition. Polling at 14 percent, the AfD are only four points adrift from the second biggest party in Germany—the Social Democrats, Politico reported.

The left wing party initially ruled out joining Merkel in a coalition government for another term but as other possibilities for a deal with non-AfD parties in parliament have been unsuccessful, the Social Democrats have voted to begin coalition talks again.

Riaz Haq said...

Anti #Muslim protest gets prayer room scrapped at #PeyongChang2018 Winter Olympics #Islamophobia


By and large, PyeongChang has gone out of its way to welcome the world for the 2018 Winter Olympics. But not everyone in the South Korean host city is feeling the Olympic spirit.

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has announced that it will no longer go forward with plans to set up a mobile multi-faith prayer room for spectators in Gangneung, where all of the Games’ indoor events are taking place, following “strong opposition” from anti-Muslim protestors, according to Al Jazeera’s Haeyoon Kim and Faras Ghani.

“We sat down with them for talks, but in the end, we had to cancel the plans,” Gangneung city government tourism division chief Kang Suk-ho told Al Jazeera.

The KTO’s Kim Yeong-ju told Korea Exposé’s Ho Kyeong Jang that opposition to the prayer rooms was so strong that local officials “could no longer do their jobs.”

Much of the hostility has flowed from the PyeongChang Olympics Gangwon Citizens’ Islam Countermeasure Association, a relatively new group that pushed a petition against the prayer room via Google. The petition — which stoked fear about radical Islam in the South Korean province of Gangwon — has collected more than 56,000 digital signatures.

“The government has already spent too much of the taxpayers’ money on the Games, and we shouldn’t spend more building a prayer room,” Seo Ji-hyun, the director of operations at the Islam Countermeasure Association, told Al Jazeera. He also suggested that Muslims should refrain from prayer at the Olympic Games as they supposedly would while flying or driving.

Islamophobia is nothing new in South Korea, where Muslims comprise just 0.2 percent of an overall population of 51 million. The Citizens’ Association for a Proper Country, a civic group led by Jeong Hyeong-man, has advocated against halal-friendly establishments and warned against “the increase of Muslim terrorist bases in Korea.”

Muslim athletes in PyeongChang still have access to a cafeteria serving certified halal food. And all visitors to the Winter Games who adhere to the faith can count on vociferous support from the Korean Muslim Federation.

“This decision demonstrates that we, as a host country, lack thoughtful understanding,” Lee Ju-hwa, a KMF representative, told Al Jazeera in a statement, before adding, “Instead of claiming that the installation of a prayer room is preferential treatment given to a certain religion, we need to raise awareness that it was to consider others with different faith and beliefs.”

The move comes as another blow to the host country’s attempts to bolster its image as a “Muslim-friendly Korea.” According to the KTO, South Korea saw a 33-percent year-over-year increase in Muslim tourists between 2015 and 2016, and welcomed 1.7 million members of the faith as visitors in 2017.

Riaz Haq said...

By rewriting history, #Hindu nationalists lay claim to #India. #Modi has appointed committee of #Hindutva "scholars" to change #India's national identity to one based on #Hindu religion. #Islamophobia #Pakistan http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/india-modi-culture … via @SpecialReports

By RUPAM JAIN and TOM LASSETER Filed March 6, 2018, 11 a.m. GMT

NEW DELHI - During the first week of January last year, a group of Indian scholars gathered in a white bungalow on a leafy boulevard in central New Delhi. The focus of their discussion: how to rewrite the history of the nation.

The government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi had quietly appointed the committee of scholars about six months earlier. Details of its existence are reported here for the first time.

Minutes of the meeting, reviewed by Reuters, and interviews with committee members set out its aims: to use evidence such as archaeological finds and DNA to prove that today’s Hindus are directly descended from the land’s first inhabitants many thousands of years ago, and make the case that ancient Hindu scriptures are fact not myth.

Interviews with members of the 14-person committee and ministers in Modi’s government suggest the ambitions of Hindu nationalists extend beyond holding political power in this nation of 1.3 billion people - a kaleidoscope of religions. They want ultimately to shape the national identity to match their religious views, that India is a nation of and for Hindus.

In doing so, they are challenging a more multicultural narrative that has dominated since the time of British rule, that modern-day India is a tapestry born of migrations, invasions and conversions. That view is rooted in demographic fact. While the majority of Indians are Hindus, Muslims and people of other faiths account for some 240 million, or a fifth, of the populace.

The committee’s chairman, K.N. Dikshit, told Reuters, “I have been asked to present a report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects of ancient history.” The committee’s creator, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, confirmed in an interview that the group’s work was part of larger plans to revise India’s history.

For India’s Muslims, who have pointed to incidents of religious violence and discrimination since Modi took office in 2014, the development is ominous. The head of Muslim party All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Asaduddin Owaisi, said his people had “never felt so marginalised in the independent history of India.”

“The government,” he said, “wants Muslims to live in India as second-class citizens.”

Modi did not respond to a request for comment for this article.


Helping to drive the debate over Indian history is an ideological, nationalist Hindu group called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It helped sweep Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to power in 2014 and now counts among its members the ministers in charge of agriculture, highways and internal security.

The RSS asserts that ancestors of all people of Indian origin - including 172 million Muslims - were Hindu and that they must accept their common ancestry as part of Bharat Mata, or Mother India. Modi has been a member of the RSS since childhood. An official biography of Culture Minister Sharma says he too has been a “dedicated follower” of the RSS for many years.

Referring to the emblematic colour of the Hindu nationalist movement, RSS spokesman Manmohan Vaidya told Reuters that “the true colour of Indian history is saffron and to bring about cultural changes we have to rewrite history.”