Qatar has been at the forefront of global condemnations of the offensive remarks by Indian officials, demanding a public apology.
Indian authorities bulldozed the home of Muslim activist Afreen Fatima on Sunday for her participation in mass protests to denounce insulting remarks by an official from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about Prophet Muhammad and his wife.
The offensive comments triggered mass protests on Friday, with demonstrators demanding the arrest of the two BJP officials. Police in Uttar Pradesh have since arrested more than 300 people while demolishing various houses of Muslims for their alleged participation in the demonstrations.
The demolition of Fatima’s – daughter of renowend Muslim politician Javed Ahmed – caused global uproar, with the hashtag #StandWithAfreenFatima topping Twitter trends in Qatar as people rallied to stand in solidarity with the activist.
“I can’t imagine the anguish and suffering she and her family are going through. In complete solidarity with my leader,” said one Qatar-based Twitter user.
Fatima’s family, including her mother and sister, have also been detained at undisclosed locations.
Another Twitter user in the Gulf state echoed the same sentiment, saying: “If you are not against this unlawful demolishing of houses, the next turn is yours.”
Meanwhile, other people called on social media users to mobilise to build a house for Fatima.
Beyond Qatar, people took to the social platforms to comment on the targeted human rights violations committed by the BJP towards Muslims in India.
“Only a heartless bigoted regime can demolish a young woman activist’s house just because of her religion,” tweeted Ashok Swain, Professor of Peace and Conflict at Uppsala University.
Saket Gokhale, National Spokesperson at All India Trinamool Congress, said the demolition of Fatima’s house “was carried out with forged back-dated demolition notices”, describing it as an illegal act by the Uttar Pradesh authorities.
An outpour of support for Fatima was seen on Twitter, with social media users highlighting her role in amplifying the voices of Muslims living under oppressive policies by the ruling party.
“May sacrifices of Afreen Fatima and her family be remembered forever and become a source of inspiration for our long struggle against fascism. May this will haunt the present and upcoming generations of fascists and its enablers,” Tweeted one person.
The demolitions come after the killing of Mudasir, 14, and Sahil Ansari, 19, on Saturday during a crackdown by Indian police at the protests. Their families accused the police of using “disproportionate force” against protesters in Ranchi, capital of eastern Jharkhand state, as Al Jazeera reported.
Derogatory remarks and global condemnation
The comments over the Prophet and his wife were made by BJP national Spokesperson Nupur Sharma, and were shortly followed with more offensive remarks by the BJP’s Delhi Media Operation Chief Naveen Kumar Jindal.
The party later suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal following a global backlash.
Qatar has been at the forefront of global condemnations and has demanded a public apology. This was followed with similar moves by Muslim countries, including Kuwait, Pakistan, and Iran.
The Gulf state’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al Khater was among a number of Qatari officials that slammed the remarks, saying,“The Islamophobic discourse has reached dangerous levels in a country long known for its diversity and coexistence.”
Al Khater noted that unless the ongoing Islamophobia is “officially and systemically confronted”, the hate speech targeting Islam “in India will be considered a deliberate insult against the two billion Muslims.”
Last week, Doha’s foreign ministry summoned India’s envoy to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, to deliver a letter of condemnation. In a statement, authorities in the Gulf state said they rejected comments made by the official against the prophet.
Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra came to office in 2014, Hindu mobs have continued to carry out human rights violations against Muslims. As of now, Modi has not commented on the offensive remarks nor the demolitions of Muslims’ homes.
The BJP promotes the Hindutva ideology, portraying India as a Hindu nation while alienating its Muslim population. The ideology has been described as a variant of far-right extremism, which adheres to the concept of homogenised majority.
In 2016, BJP Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Anantkumar Hegde, said that “as long as there is Islam in the world, there will be terrorism”.
Rohingya refugees in India also live under a constant threat of being deported to Myanmar, where they had initially fled from in fear of the army’s crackdown on Muslims.
Meanwhile, Muslim-majority areas in Jammu and Kashmir continue to be oppressed by Indian authorities. This comes through discriminatory restrictions, including limiting their access to information, health care and education.