Headlines

SPECIAL REPORT: Indian religious leaders strongly protest against South Korean government hounding of Shincheonji Church despite cooperation to contain COVID-19 spread

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 09 August 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan

The government of South Korea is pursuing a discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church while accusing it of COVID-19 spread. The church authorities have alleged that this is nothing but a witch-hunt against the church despite its voluntary cooperation, including the largest blood plasma donation in the world. The government alleged that Shincheonji Church is responsible for the spread of COVID-19.

On March 26, former Seoul Metropolitan Mayor Park Won-soon revoked his permission to establish "the New Heaven and New Earth, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony", which was registered in Seoul. Furthermore, on June 22, the city of Daegu, where the largest number COVID-19 cases were confirmed, filed a civil suit worth 100 billion won against Shincheonji Church. All the steps were taken by the government holding Shincheonji Church responsible for the spread of COVID-19 in South Korea.

On February 17, after the 31st patient was found infected in Shincheonji Church in Daegu, more than 5,000 church members tested positive for COVID-19. At the request of the government, the church provided a list of Korean and overseas church members. During a press conference the church also promised to cooperate with any request from the government. As soon as the first confirmed case in the church was found, Shincheonji Church shut down all of its buildings and facilities across the country for quarantine. It also switched all of its meetings to online.

In July, most of the church members recovered from COVID-19. Despite several voluntary cooperation including the largest blood plasma donation in the world, the government's discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church and the social conflict of fake news in the Korean media have resulted in more than 6,000 cases of religious discrimination and human rights violations against the church in just a few months, including forced resignation, domestic violence, compulsory conversion education, and breach and leak of personal information. With the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, members of Shincheonji Church are at war against another virus called "discrimination."

A recent statement issued by the families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19 stated: "The damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response by the government to contain the virus." It also states that the Minister of Justice, Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that the minister is trying to cover up her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.

Indian religious leaders condemn South Korean govt

Religious leaders in India have also come out strongly in support of Shincheonji Church and urged that the South Korean government should not handle the current pandemic situation with prejudice just because Shincheonji Church is a minority religious group.

Dr. Homi B. Dhalla, Founder President of World Zarathushti Cultural Foundation, said, “In February 2020, the South Korean government had permitted religious organizations to conduct gatherings as well as to hold religious services. At the same time, a number of tourists from China had also entered South Korea. It is now a known fact, globally, that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in China in October 2019. Therefore, it is crystal clear that the infection was brought into South Korea by these tourists. The citizens of South Korea have rightly blamed the government for permitting these tourists to enter the country. Under these circumstances, I would sincerely urge South Korean government to stop harassing Chairman Man Hee Lee and members of the Shincheonji Church.”

Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, cited a similar case that happened in India in his condemnation letter to Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea. He said, “Politicians around the world are searching for scapegoats to hide their faults. Often, they need to create an enemy to mobilize the support. More often they portray enemy is minority religion or ethnic of the country to win the support of the majority community.” 

“In India, the earliest infected people by covid-19 belonged to a Muslim religious sect called Tablighi Jamaat numbering about 80, and the social media started an organized campaign spreading rumors through morphed images and edited video clips that Muslims were intentionally spreading the disease.” he added. Surprised at knowing that discrimination to the Shincheonji Church has been imposed by the South Korea government, he urged, “Let the Democratic Party of Korea be truly democratic by taking steps to stop the persecution of religious groups and let all people enjoy religious freedom.”

Dr. Chand Kanwar Bhardwaj, General Secretary of Sawan Adhyatmic Satsang Society of India, said, “Regardless of the church's unintentional role in spreading the virus, we cannot put the blame of an entire country on a single organisation. The entire world is reeling through COVID-19 and Shincheonji Church, including its members, is also a victim of it. Treating them with contempt and charging legal proceedings against their organization and their faith, just because they are a minority religious group is a clear violation of constitutional rights.”

“Aren't the governments elected by the citizens to protect their rights? Discrimination in any form shouldn't be acceptable. This is high time for the world governments to come together and protect each individual and provide facilities on humanitarian grounds rather than blaming and targeting an individual or an organization. A Democratic Government should stand by its principal and act accordingly. If the Lawmakers don't follow the laws they made, then what shall we expect from the public?” asks Md. Irshad Ahmad, President of Minorities Forum for Deepening Democracy.

Gautam Patil, the state vice president of The Buddhist Society of India, said, “South Korea's strategy to control the coronavirus outbreak has heralded an exemplary response which the whole world has witnessed today. However, it is saddening to know that the country is exploiting human rights in regards to religious discriminations. An organization or a religious group cannot be blamed as the spreader of the virus. The use of religion in politics always leads to violation, exploitation, and discriminations among the minority which solely affects the human rights of the citizens.”

Ramchandra Das, Secretary of International Goudiya Vedanta Trust, pointed out in his letter sent on July 15th that the treatment by the government towards Shincheonji Church is clearly religious discrimination. “In terms of the peace of religion, we all believe in the same God and need to be in harmony and balance. We shouldn't be biased by looking at one side. In fact, to be honest, the church members are victims of COVID-19 and not perpetrators,” he said in his letter.

Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF jointly hold webinar

There is also a view that a close relationship between the conservative and fundamentalist churches and the South Korean government had influence on the unusual repression of the government against Shincheonji Church. On July 20, a webinar titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea” was hosted by the Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers.  The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.

Prior to the COVID-19 incident, two members of Shincheonji Church lost their lives by coercive conversion program operated by Christian Council of Korea. According to the Coalition for Victims of coercive conversion, the number of victims of this deprogramming is 1,507, and they have been exposed to assault, kidnapping, confinement, and forced leave from their work and schools. A voice of criticism for the coercive conversion program was also raised. Speaking about the discrimination towards Shincheonji Church by the Christian Council of Korea, Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, also mentioned, “I fail to understand why the Christian Council of Korea opposes it tooth and nail when there are more than 25,000 registered denominations among the Protestants and every one of them at some point of time was a new entrant.”

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right of all people. In contrast, the act of the forced conversion of religion is the greatest violation of this right. The act of the forced conversion of religion has nothing to do with religion at all,” said Dr. Kamini Gogri, Head of Research on Ancient Scriptures, Eikam Resonance Foundation said. “We request to stop the violations of right and the atrocities committed by mainstream Christian churches to violate the same,” she added.

Recovered COVID-19 patients from Shincheonji Church donate $83 billion worth of Plasma for Vaccine development

The world should appreciate the $83 billion worth of Plasma donation for vaccine development by the 4,000 recovered COVID-19 patients from Shincheonji Church. Despite continuous discrimination, more than 4,000 members of Shincheonji Church showed their willingness for plasma donation for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The recovered patients voluntarily decided to donate their plasma and even refused to receive any monetary expenses including transportation charges. Starting from 17 July, 500 church members completed their donation. More members are waiting for their turn.

Dr. Avtar Singh Sethi, Advisor of The Kalgidhar Trust/Society, said, “The 4,000 infected members of Shincheonji Church voluntarily donated plasma after recovering from the virus. Their contribution to fighting the pandemic should be appreciated. At these times of crisis, let us all come together and fight the pandemic of COVID-19. I condemn the scapegoating of Shincheonji Church, and I urge the government to stop blaming any section of the society for spreading the virus, and to respect religious freedom,”

Rev Dr, C S Gabriel, the president of Christhava Nallenna Iyakkam says, “Although there is hatred towards them, I appreciate the sincere efforts made through the blood plasma donation by Shincheonji Church members, who were cured of the virus. This is alarming as it threatens other minorities in the country and globally too amid the pandemic. The infected ones are those who need to be protected, not blamed, and discriminated against.”

Religious persecution and stigmatizing must stop in the name COVID-19

The world is in a grave crisis now as it continues to battle Coronavirus pandemic. Fatalities continue to mount with several thousands having already lost their lives and many being affected by the disease. Millions of jobs have already been lost and the world economy is in dire straits. Whether it’s the United States, India or South Korea, the governments have miserably failed to effectively contain COVID-19 spread and lessen fatalities. According to reports, racism of the worst kind was on display in the USA. Black people were specifically targeted and allowed to die mercilessly due to the pandemic. In India, the largest Muslim minority group has been constantly under attack. The Coronavirus pandemic brought even more miseries for Indian Muslims as a religious sect Tablighi Jamaat was systemically targeted and its followers hounded while being accused of spreading the disease. And, the community’s stigmatization continues even today. What happened lately in South Korea by targeting Shincheonji Church is even more depressing and deplorable. Such anti-people behavior can only be expected from the governments who continue to fail to deliver. It’s high time that the world governments should stop religious persecution and stigmatization in the name of fighting COVID-19 pandemic.

[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached on his Mobile # 9990179721 or at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

Ram Temple foundation: A Jolt to Indian Culture

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By V.K. Tripathi

On August 5, 2020, another nail was hammered on the chest of Indian culture when the Prime Minister laid the foundation of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. 

Next day (9 AM to 3 PM) I was walking through the streets of Seelampur, Jafrabad, Maujpur and Kardampuri in NE Delhi, giving fliers “Reach Out to Masses on Truth, Nonviolence and National Issues” to people and talking to them. Communal violence had taken place here on February 23-24, 2020. As I began, “Take this soul awakening flier. It says two things: Don’t fight among yourselves, fight the unjust laws/ movies of the state. Fight with truth and nonviolence,” people opened their hearts. Muslims said, “Very true. We have been living together but the government is breaking us.” They expressed their sorrow, their livelihood worries with not an iota of ill will. Their love overwhelmed me. Nitin, a motor mechanic, said, “You are speaking my heart. I don’t like hatred. Government is not doing good. By force it is building a temple and asking people to burst crackers.”  Vijay, a van driver, said, “Fliers won’t do. A year has passed, look at the conditions of people of J&K. This government will not allow people to live in peace.” This prompted me to talk in detail. I saw the real India, the India I had seen in villages. Similar was my experience on August 5 (the first day of our 11 day campaign) in Ajmeri Gate, Sitaram Bazar, Daryaganj area where in 1992 a group of six girls from Delhi University and I had met some hard headed communal traders. This time, while disbursing 1300 fliers in two days, joined by Ajay Sahay and Dr. Md. Inam, no one expressed joy over ceremony in Ayodhya. 

Indian culture has been a culture of living together. Our masses lived on honest earnings, truth, cooperation and respect for individuality/ freedom of each other. People followed different religions and practices with the same focus, Bhakti (dissolution of self). To the elite, however, religion and shrines have been an instrument of show off and assertion of superiority. They didn’t allow those who built them to enter. They turned them to propagate caste oppression and later religious hatred. 

The entire Ram temple movement has been a movement of the sectarian elite – the sections of market forces, officers, sadhus and NRIs. It has nothing to do with the masses. In fact it has been an onslaught on the culture and unity of the masses and democratic polity. It lowered the stature of Lord Ram, who is synonym to Almighty, Brahm and Allah, and reduced it to a figure of an angry archer, contrary to Lord Ram’s ‘karuna ke saagar’ image. It raised a storm of frenzy, not against Babur, but the working class masses –the weavers, farmers, artisans etc. It targeted a mosque where masses had offered namaaz of Ram for 400 years and pooja of Ram for 90 years. The shrine did not deter the multitude of Hindus and Muslims of Awadh to sacrifice their lives together in the first ‘War of Independence, 1857’ against the British imperialism. Bahadurshah Zafar, the last descendent of Babur, was the national figure of uprising, who was tortured and whose family was eliminated.

After the Supreme Court nod to build a temple over there, we urged the Prime Minister, to follow three principles. A) Shrine should inspire people to sublime their ego (a central goal of all religions and spirituality), hence must be simple, not daunting. B) It must detach itself from perpetrators of hatred and violence, the organs that built the movement. C) It must allow and welcome people of all faiths and castes to say their prayers in their own ways, commensurate with the spirit of Lord Ram (Ram sab ke hain, sab Ram ke hain). In Ram Charit Manas, Ram asks sage Valmiki to suggest a place in the forest where he could build a hut and live. The sage says. “Juinke kapat dambh nahin maaya, Tinke hraday basahu Raghuraaya” (live in the hearts of those who are free from cunningness, pride and me-others divide). Or else, the shrine would lose its inherent dignity and reinforce the imperialist polity. We did not receive any response. 

On August 5, Anuj Tripathi, Dr. Rohtash Singh, Dr. Inam, Sandeep, Dr. Rakhi Tripathi, VK Tripathi and over a hundred others (who sent their tweets) observed Fast for Unity, to awaken conscience of people to preserve secular democratic character of the state. Besides blot on Ayodhya, we were also pained by the suppression of democratic rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir that began on same date a year ago. The government fractured the unity of the nation by creating an euphoria against peace loving Kashmiri masses in the rest of India. 

Our flier brings out Gandhi’s goal of freedom movement – to change the imperialist character of the state and make it democratic, subservient to people and accountable. We talk of six issues, (1) Shutting down of economic activities of crores of people in one stroke of lockdown, (2) Democratic rights of people of J&K, (3) Citizenship Amendment Act, (4) Farmers’ woes and market, (5) Ram temple (6) Regimentation and Privatization of Educational institutions. Prof. Jagmohan Singh is preparing to distribute fliers in Ludhiana, Mr. Md. Sajjad in Muzaffarpur and Prof. Anil Sadgopal in Bhopal. Some friends have done it in New York. Many friends sent the fliers to their networks on net. 

[V.K. Tripathi is associated with Sadbhav Mission. He can be contacted on his Mobile # 9717309263 or email at tripathivipin@yahoo.co.in]

MANUU pays tribute to the doyen of Urdu Journalism Khan Lateef Mohd. Khan

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service 

Hyderabad: Prof. S M Rahmatullah, Vice Chancellor in charge, Maulana Azad National Urdu University has expressed his deep sorrow over the demise of Mr. Khan Lateef Mohammad Khan, Editor-in-Chief, Munsif Daily, Hyderabad. In his condolence message, he paid glowing tribute to his pioneering contribution in promoting Urdu journalism, describing him as a trend-setting editor. Through the revival of Urdu daily Munsif in late 1997 he gave a new direction to Urdu journalism, said Prof. Rahmatullah.

Prof. Siddiqui Mohammad Mahmood, Registrar in-charge, in his condolence statement, mentioned the close association of Mr Khan with Urdu University. Mr. Khan Lateef Khan visited MANUU on its foundation day in 2006 as a chief guest and also delivered a lecture. Describing him as the doyen of Urdu journalism Prof. Siddiqui reminded that he had instituted Khan Lateef Khan Gold Medal for the toppers of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of MANUU to encourage the professional Urdu journalists. His support to MANUU specially in its formative years was enormous.

Prof. Rahmatullah and Prof. Mahmood Siddiqui conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and staff of Munsif daily newspaper.

Kuwait expatriate body Indian Social Forum organizes Blood Donation Camp

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Kuwait City: Indian Social Forum organised Blood Donation Camp in association with Central Blood Bank Kuwait on Friday, 7th August 2020. The camp was organised by ISF to support the high demand of blood in the context of COVID-19. 

All arrangements to maintain COVID-19 protocol were made in the camp including segregation of donors as branch wise batches along with strict safety measures of participants.

The members of ISF also donated blood to many patients during the lockdown period. Hundreds of people donated blood in the camp. The camp organised in Blood Bank, Jabriya, was successfully managed by Dr. Asma Rafat and leaders of ISF, including Aslam, Vice President; Sayyid Bukhari Thangal, Secretary; and prominent officials such as Moideen Koya, Khaleel, Aseem, Mohammed Sha, Shihab, and Naushad.

The Indian Social Forum also expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to the doctors, staff and management of blood bank, forum’s members and donors.

Simplify Life at Home with RoboVac G10 Hybrid

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

Cleaning is made effortless as Anker Innovations introduces the new eufy Robovac G10 Hybrid that takes on dust-busting around your home with multiple cleaning modes, moping and auto-clean scheduling.

Faraz Mehdi, Regional Sales Head at Anker Innovations MEA said, “The new intelligent super slim Robovac G10 Hybrid is a quiet, self-charging robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans hard floors and carpets a lot easier and delivers the most powerful clean with the latest sweep and mop technology. It offers twice the efficiency of standard robotic cleaners.”

The intelligent RoboVac G10 Hybrid operates quietly and comes with Smart Dynamic Navigation, cleaning report cards, Wi-Fi, voice control and 2-in-1 sweep and mop for a sparkling clean. The self-charging RoboVac may be ultra-slim, but it’s packed with a 3-point cleaning system consisting of a suction inlet, rolling-brush and side-brush.

This lean cleaning Machine boasts 2000Pa of superior suction power clearing dirt, dust, and crumbs. The Super-Slim 2.85” body effortlessly glides under furniture and into hard to reach areas.

Users can give instructions by voice or using your phone via the EufyHome app, Siri, Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. Post sales, eufy also provides 12 Months Warranty, friendly and easy-to-reach support. It is available in all leading electronic stores and amazon.ae.

Eufy as a brand has a wide range of appliances like Robotic Vacuum Cleaners, Cordless Handstick Vacuum Cleaner, Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaners, Smart Scale etc.

About eufy

eufy is a smart home brand by Anker Innovations, founded in 2016 with the objective of bringing the latest smart home technology to households across the country at attainable prices. Establishing itself as a leader in robovacs, hand held vacuum cleaners, baby monitors, and reliable smart home security products, eufy meets the growing demand in innovative smart home products and reliable security solutions that offers privacy and makes life easier and safer. Find more about eufy at www.eufylife.com.

About Anker Innovations

Anker Innovations is a global leader in charging technology and a developer of unique and innovative consumer products in audio, home automation, home entertainment and more. This innovation is being led by its five key brands: Anker, Eufy, Nebula, ROAV and Soundcore. More information about Anker Innovations, its brands and products can be found at anker.com. Representing these brands, Anker Innovations in Dubai, U.A.E, is behind the sales of the range of premium products and gadgets in the UAE, KuwaitOmanBahrainQatarIraq and other GCC countries and African countries.

UAE opens up for business amid COVID-19 precautions

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 July 2020 | Posted in , , ,

The end of movement restrictions and the national disinfection programme in the UAE is the culmination of months of relentless efforts by the government, crisis management authorities and frontline health care workers in close cooperation with public institutions, businesses and the general public to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to their sustained and well-coordinated efforts, the UAE has successfully reopened almost all major facets of its economy ahead of most other countries with similar number of cases.

People can now watch a movie at the cinemas, go to a park or a long-drive in their family car, catch up on some retail shopping at malls with children in tow, enjoy their favourite meal at a restaurant and visit tourist hot spots around the country.

Businesses can once again welcome back customers to their premises; schools can prepare for students to return possibly in September, and the country can get ready to welcome the first post-Covid tourists in a couple of weeks.

While citizens and residents across the UAE will surely cherish the return of free movement, it does not mean we go back to the careless practices of pre-pandemic days. In Abu Dhabi, for instance, an entry ban in force due to its sterilisation drive will continue.

Adhere to precautions

Around the UAE, everyone must adhere to stringent Covid-19 precautions — including social distancing and wearing masks, and violators will face the full force of penalties.

The underlying message for everyone is very simple: even though movement restrictions have been lifted, the Covid-19 outbreak is still here and new cases continue to be reported every day. It’s vital to resume economic activities in the country, but we must always remember that the virulent virus is still lurking around us.

Therefore, whatever you do in the coming days and weeks, be responsible. For yourself, your family, friends, colleagues at work and the society that you inhabit.

It’s equally important that we don’t delude ourselves about the future: the road back to normality will be long and challenging, and people and businesses will each respond to it in their own ways as necessary, with one common thread: we must all proceed with caution, empathy and understanding.

The strategies deployed by the UAE in fighting the pandemic have shown us how to handle those challenges, and the new normal that we return to today is the successful result of adopting those measures.

With the UAE announcing the world’s first phase III clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine in cooperation with Chinese pharma giant CNBG, the future is also full of hope.

The UAE’s global and national role in fighting the pandemic offers vital lessons in leadership during a crisis. With the reopening of the country, the responsibility is now on all of us to continue to fulfil that role and work together for a safe and secure future, while remembering that it’s only the movement restrictions that have gone — not the virus.

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

Curtailed haj compounds Saudi economic woes

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Anuj Chopra

Vacant religious sites. Abandoned pilgrim tents. Lifeless hotels. A stunning emptiness -- and fears of economic ruin -- haunt the usually bustling city of Mecca after Saudi authorities curtailed the haj pilgrimage over coronavirus.

Islam's holiest city usually hosts millions of pilgrims for the annual rite, but the kingdom has barred overseas visitors from this year's event, scheduled for late July.

The haj and the lesser umrah pilgrimage together rake in some $12 billion, keeping the economy humming in Mecca, home to two million people and marble-bedecked skyscrapers towering over Islam's most sacred sites.

A construction boom in recent years has added shopping malls, apartments and luxury hotels, some offering spectacular views of the sacred Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure in the Grand Mosque towards which Muslims around the world pray. 

But most premises have lain empty since the pandemic reached the kingdom.

The virus, which hit Mecca hard, has also battered pilgrimage-reliant businesses that support hundreds of thousands of jobs, from travel agents to street barbers and souvenir shops.

Many have reported sweeping layoffs, pay cuts or delayed salaries.

"Zero sales, zero income," said Ahmed Attia, a 39-year-old Egyptian who works for a travel agency in the city.

"We're not used to seeing Mecca empty. It feels like a dead city. It's devastating for Mecca."

A tsunami of cancellations has also battered overseas haj operators who organize travel logistics for pilgrims, many of whom invest their life savings in the five-day ritual.

Saudi authorities had already in March suspended the umrah pilgrimage, which can be performed at any time.

Then, in a hugely sensitive but long-awaited decision, they said they would only allow around 1,000 pilgrims already present in the kingdom to perform the haj.

That is a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims who attended last year.

"It will be a symbolic event, a photo-op that allows the kingdom to say 'we didn't cancel the hajj as many expected'," said a South Asian official in contact with haj authorities.

Saudi Arabia has stressed that the watered-down haj will be open to people of various nationalities.

But the selection process for the few spots is expected to be hotly contested, as some Mecca residents expect to be given priority over outsiders.

"I have gone to haj before and hopefully this year, with God's will, I will be among the first pilgrims," said Marwan Abdulrahman, a Saudi living in Mecca.

Many feared the pilgrimage, which packs colossal crowds into small religious sites, could have been a massive source of contagion.

The novel coronavirus has hit the kingdom with the highest number of cases in the Gulf -- more than 178,000 confirmed infections including 1,511 deaths.

But scaling the pilgrimage back will deepen the kingdom's economic slump, analysts say.

The move follows a sharp downturn in oil prices and coronavirus-led losses, which triggered austerity measures including the tripling of a value added tax and cuts to civil servants' allowances.

The haj decision "does compound Saudi Arabia's economic difficulties", Richard Robinson, a Middle East analyst at Oxford Analytica, told AFP.

On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund warned the kingdom's GDP will shrink by 6.8 percent this year -- its worst performance since the 1980s oil glut.

The Saudi Binladen construction group, a bellwether known for vast mega-projects, has missed salary payments for thousands of workers in recent months, according to a source close to the company and employees complaining on social media.

The Arabic hashtag "Delays in Binladen salaries" has gained traction as the slowdown impacts the firm behind a series of critical projects, including a $15 billion skyscraper hotel complex that towers over Mecca's Grand Mosque.

The company is seeking to charter a number of private jets to send many of its laid-off South Asian labourers home, according to the source.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The downturn has also disrupted Riyadh's ambitious plans to build a tourism industry from scratch, a cornerstone of the Vision 2030 reform programme to reduce the kingdom's reliance on oil.

"The government has singled out tourism as a key area for growth under its diversification strategy, and the loss of haj revenues could set the sector back through lost investment or bankruptcies," said Robinson.

The kingdom began offering tourist visas for the first time last September in moves to open up one of the last frontiers of global tourism.

"While Saudis are looking to diversify tourism revenues beyond religious tourism, their efforts still build from the haj," said Kristin Diwan of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

"Not having it at this time of disruption in oil markets is a blow."

(Courtesy: AFP)

Inciting Hate: The social media powder keg

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Suhail Ahmad

A recent study by US think tank Pew Research Center revealed that 93 percent Muslims view Hindus favourably, but only 65 percent Hindus view Muslims positively.

The survey titled ‘Attitudes Toward Diversity in 11 Emerging Economies’ may not be conclusive and updated enough, especially as it was conducted between September and October 2018, preceding many important developments which may have a direct bearing on the study findings. However, it’s still relevant and merits an objective assessment.

The survey results beg the question- why don’t the 35 percent Hindus view Muslims in positive light and what about the seven percent Muslims holding unfavorable viewpoint of Hindus? This may be subject of a separate survey, but one can still look into the possible reasons.

One of the reasons, infact, can be discerned from another important finding of the survey about the degree or frequency of interaction. Seventy per cent of Muslims frequently or occasionally interact with Hindus in India, while only 56 per cent Hindus interact with their Muslims counterparts.
As the study points out people who interact more with other religious groups tend to have more favorable opinions of them.

Of the Hindus who said they interacted with people outside their own faith — 71 per cent had a favourable view of Muslims. As opposed to this, just 56 per cent of Hindus, who reported infrequent contact with people of other religions, viewed Muslims favourably.

Let’s now focus on the Hindus who don’t have much interaction with Muslims.  Their beliefs and perceptions are largely shaped by mainstream media and social media and there lies our possible answer about the trust deficit. Social media, in particular, has proven to be a powerful influence on public perception.

A piece by Claire Teitelman (April 19, 2019) in Journal of International Affairs of Columbia University explored the role of platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter in sparking communal hatred and subsequent violence in India.

Before social media, television was the media of the masses. Claire contends that without revenue-generating streams of traditional media like TV, social media companies have had to be more aggressive with advertising, “which includes the development of targeted ads that meets your preferences and prejudices”.

She also quotes Guillaume Chaslot, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher. “If the AI favors engagement, like on Facebook and YouTube, it will incentivize divisive content, because divisive content is very efficient to keep people online. The longer you retain people online, the more advertisements they see and the more opportunities you have to profit, which is what matters to social media-companies, like any commercial enterprise. The aim of social media algorithms is to keep people angry, engaged, and online.”

India has emerged as the fastest-growing market for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube so much so that for many social media has become an indispensible part of life. While the utility of these platforms cannot be denied, the prospect of their misuse remains pretty high. The speed and ease with which rumors spread on social media is frightening. There is a large gullible section of population with poor internet literacy - those who can’t differentiate between fact and rumour.

Claire refers to two incidents- the “Dadri Mob Lynching” in 2015 and the “Kathua Rape Case” in 2018. In both these incidents, protesters were riled-up by viral messages, photos, and videos on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Many of the videos were based on alleged cow slaughter or cow meat storage and consumption by Muslims. In an interview with news portal Scroll, the sister of one of the accused Dadri perpetrators claimed that she – and possibly her brother – had been inundated with messages and videos about cow slaughter on WhatsApp. No wonder, hoax WhatsApp messages led to more than a dozen lynchings in 2018 alone.

The Kathua incident that involved the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a young Muslim girl was distorted through social media, contending that the girl hadn't been raped and false claims flooded WhatsApp, including an autopsy report purporting to disprove rape as well as proof claiming the innocent had been framed.

Social media has played a role in accentuating sectarian tensions. It magnifies the communal tensions by rapidly creating national crises out of local disturbances. As Claire argues, “Both the Kathua and Dadri episodes would have remained local events, but social media amplified and polarized them.” The resulting ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ mindset serves the parties who thrive on divisive politics very well.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to the social media hatemongering. If the hate and propaganda machinery is not reined in, we may see widening of the gulf between people from different faiths and spike in communal violence. We are sitting on the social media powder keg. Unless defused, it’s just waiting to blow up. 

(Courtesy: The Rising Kashmir)

India grants thousands citizenship rights in Kashmir to dilute Muslim population

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Hilal Mir

Srinagar, J&K: As many as 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Muslim-majority Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir since May 18, which local politicians believe is the beginning of disturbing demographic profile of the region.

The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population.

Last year on Aug. 5, when India revoked the semi-autonomous status of the region, it also scrapped the local special citizenship law, guaranteed under Article 35 (A) of the Indian Constitution.

The law was barring outsiders including Indian nationals from settling and claiming government jobs, to maintain the demographic balance.
On Friday, a picture of the domicile certificate issued to Navin Kumar Choudhary, a bureaucrat originally from the Indian state of Bihar, went viral on social media.

In April this year, amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the government notified domicile laws making an unspecified number of outsiders eligible for residency and jobs.

According to the new law, any person who has lived in the region for 15 years, or has studied in the region for seven years and passed his class 10 or class 12 examination is eligible for domicile certificate.

Also, children of Indian government employees who have served in the state for 10 years are eligible to settle and claim local citizenship rights. The law applies even if the children have never lived in Kashmir.

Out of 66, top bureaucrats serving in the region, 38 are outsiders belonging to other Indian states. Many other outsiders serve in various central government institutions like banks, post offices telecommunication facilities, security institutions, and universities.

Majority of new citizens in Jammu region

Kashmiri politicians across the divide have said the revocation of special citizenship rights was aimed at reversing the Muslim majority character of the region.

According to a census conducted by India in 2011, out of 12.5 million total population, Muslims comprise 68.31% and Hindus 28.43% in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity, a government official said, since May 18, when the rules were notified, 33,000 persons had applied for the domicile certificates. Out of them, 25,000 persons have been granted citizenship rights, he said.

As many as 32,000 applications were filed in 10 districts of the Hindu majority Jammu region. The highest number of 8,500 certificates has been issued in the Doda district, which has a delicate demographic balance, with Muslims comprising 53.81% and Hindus 45.76%.

As many as 6,213 domicile certificates have been issued in Rajouri district, which has 62.71% Muslim population. Authorities have distributed 6,123 citizenship certificates in Poonch, a border district comprising 90.44% Muslim population.

In the Kashmir region, which is about 96.4% Muslim population, 435 certificates have been issued so far, out of the total 720 applications.

As of now, it is not clear how many outsiders, like Choudhary, have been issued domicile certificates. The 25,000 new citizens also include Hindu refugees, who had settled in the region at the time of partition of the sub-continent in 1947. They had migrated from territories, now part of Pakistan. But due to the state’s residency laws and special status they were not granted local citizenship rights.

Disputed territory

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971. Two of them have been over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

(Courtesy: The Muslim News)

Opinion: Has Coronavirus Changed the Veil Debate in Europe

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , , ,

Will Face-mask Modify the Veil Debate in Europe?

By Dr. Irfan Raja

Throughout the world, governments can easily sell and buy two slogans: “Public interest” and “For Your Safety”. And, exactly that is what European democracies are doing now for public safety against the Coronavirus. 

In a similar bid, the French President Macron Emmanuel introduced a Coronavirus safety face mask to French public as “National pride” because it is 100% made in France.   

Hang on a minute! Is not the same France that once banned face veil for only a handful of Muslim women including French reverts? But at that time in the best interest of French society, it was revealed to the public that Muslim women face veil is a “Symbol of oppression”, “Health risk” and a “Threat” and even it could be a “National shame” because it is outdated and misfit for a modern secular society. 

Fair enough! I do remember the day in 2006, I was a MA journalism student at the University of Leeds. Like many other students and academics, I was shocked to know that the British parliamentarian Jack Straw had provoked anger and outrage among the British Muslim community by saying that “Visible statement of separation and difference”, was actually one of the former students union presidents. 
I found that the University of Leeds, students banned him “in protest at what they said were his anti-libertarian policies”. 

Since then, never ending veil debate has started, people have written Ph.D. thesis and thousands of newspaper and journal articles, books, manuscripts, hold public discussions and debates, delivered lectures and made documentaries, films and produced teasing caricatures. 

More worryingly, European newspapers and broadcasters ran disgraceful campaigns to demonized Muslim veil wearing women 24/7 to an extent that countries including France banned it. 

My own research on veil shows how British Conservative and Liberal broadsheets and tabloids published a series of articles, editorials, features and comments pieces on the veil that made it a “national debate” bigger than Britain’s illegal wars and climate change. 

The press perceives the veil as a clash between Muslims and non-Muslims and presents it as a “terror threat”. Besides, several leading European parliamentarians have made it a regular habit to attack the veil that is an easy way of getting media publicity. 

Today, the veil is a talk of the town. Still, the majority of the people are confused and ill-informed on this subject.  Thomas Sealy raised an important question: “Is there a difference between the niqab and a face mask?” 

So what is that so special in a piece of cloth which makes it a “National pride”? Obviously, if it fits into government policy it’s a pride otherwise veil can be regarded as a “Shame” and “Outdated”. 

So if the veil is an outdated practice and a terror threat, then why France is driving the entire nation to adopt it? In the words of George Orwell, the veil is a perfect example of “Double Speak”. 

In France, it is prohibited for a Muslim women to cover the face but she will also be fined for not wearing a face mask -- Is it forcing a Muslim woman not to wear a veil is nothing less than a mental torture and abusive?.    

Pity though, how a piece of cloth fosters divisions in Coronavirus crisis? It is mainly because Muslims are easy targets as Richard Adams summed it: “Hijab ban attempt is ‘racism dressed up as liberalism”.  

When James McAuley, Washington Post, Paris correspondent posted an article, along a comment, “On the ironies of mask requirements in the country that brought you burka ban” via The Washington Post article: “France mandates masks to control the coronavirus. Burqas remain banned”.  

Within minutes, a thread @Washingtonpost started that turned Twitter into a battleground between supporters and opponents of veil wearing women. Everyone seems to be a scholar of Islam, a usual practice during Muslims related discussions and debates. But, how many Twitter warriors have read a chapter of the holy Qur’an An-Nisa to understand what exactly veil is?  

Veiled Women Image in British Press 

Mostly, the western media portrays veil wearing women as “oppressed” and “backward”. The conservative press support ban on veil while the liberal press suggests that women should be free to decide. 

But, is the West really concerned about oppressed women? Because many European countries have treated the veil wearing Muslim women as badly as the oppressed ones elsewhere.

That is banning Muslim women wearing burka and bracketing them as “letterboxes” and “bank-robbers”. These are thoughts of the British PM Boris Johnson, so what can you expect from others? 

Now compare French and Taliban views of Muslim women veil. Are they any different? Both did the same that is forced women to adopt their way of wearing, French banned veil wearing and the Taliban made it mandatory. 

Isn’t the politics of veil?  Because if the west truly value women freedom it should not force them to wear or not to wear but rather give women a choice. 

But it’s all politics, Katharine Viner equated, “Feminism as imperialism” and unknotted false claims of the western leaders, especially George W. Bush who “bombed Afghanistan to liberate women from burkas” then used the same logic to bomb Iraq because he did not bear the pain of Iraqi women in suffering. 

Viner raised a logical point that women sufferings are everywhere, so “To justify another war. Where next? China because of its anti-girl one-child policy? India because of widow-burning outrages? Britain because of its criminally low rape conviction rate?” 

Janine Rich disclosed the popular western discourse on Islam and Muslims as of the “Oppressed Muslim Women”. For decades, Western powers are successfully using it to legalize their attacks on Muslim countries. Too often, sections of the western media push the debates on Muslim women using “oppression” as fascination.

Rich argues that “The complex discourses surrounding women in the Islamic world have a long and deeply political history, and this narrative has been renewed and re-utilized numerous times to garner widespread public support for Western military intervention in the Middle East”. 

What the western media and polity missed to share with their public at home is that Muslim women's rights and duties are far more in order as described in al-Qur’an. Moreover, the Afghan women were allowed to vote long before the European women. 

Truth has always been there but the real issue is people don’t want it because sometimes it contradicts with their self-designed way of life.    

Perhaps, a best-concluded sentence would be that it is the apolitical weapon of Europe that shows nothing but “Double Standards”. One rule for a minority and the other rule for the elites. 

If the European democracy has reached to such lower level then Europe must rethink and revisit its ideas of human rights and personal freedoms. 

What is Still Misunderstood in Europe? 

Underneath the thread of French Macron argued that we Europeans are embracing face masks to save lives. Of course, any sensible person would agree with this argument, but what exactly is that Islam says about the veil? What does it require from a believer? What is the wisdom behind its teachings? What are their impacts and relevance to modern societies?   

Going back to Life-saving argument, remember that Islam talks about life after death that is everlasting and perpetual, so why would anyone risk an everlasting loss?  

Dr. Irfan Raja
They should disregard a modest practice only because a fraction of conservative Europeans don’t like it? Think if someone demands to ban drinking, smoking and drug use because it all kills and cost NHS £2.7 billion each year. Does veil cost anything to the NHS?

The irony is that we take what we like and leave what we don’t like. Think about Christianity, Judaism, and other religions that preach modesty- So why Europe is so worried about a Muslim woman only? After all, it is just a piece of cloth, isn’t it? 

[Dr. Irfan Raja is academic, analyst and activist based in the U.K., masters of arts in international journalism at the University of Leeds, holds a Ph.D. at the University of Huddersfield. He can be reached at irfan.journalist@gmail.com] 

(Courtesy: Daily Sabah)
 

Tamil Nadu Muslim body TMMK involved in funeral service of Corona victims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: A Muslim group in Tamil Nadu is actively involved in conducting proper funeral rites of dead bodies mostly of Corona victims belonging to different faiths.

The volunteers of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), a Muslim non-governmental organization have performed the last rights of about 139 dead bodies belonging to different religions commencing from March 25, 2020 till this date.

The funeral rites have been conducted based on the religious beliefs of the dead and many among them are non-Muslims, said M.H. Jawahirullah  TMMK President.

Even when the loved ones of the dead are unwilling to perform their last rites, the volunteers of the TMMK are doing the funeral service based on human concerns, he added.
So far TMMK have done funeral service for 139 people from March to June 2020. Among them 58 who died due to Covid- 19, include 48 from Chennai, 2 from Villupuram, 1 from Pernambut area in Tirupattur district, 3 from Trichy, 1 from Kayalpattinam in Tuticurin District, 1 from Aaarani in Tiruvannamalai district and 2 from Erode.    

Apart from them, there were 81 orphaned people who died during the Corona curfew or lockdown.  These include 63 from Chennai, 2 from Coimbatore, 2 from Udumalaipet and one each from Trichy and Madurai. Besides, there are 12 other orphan deaths from different places of Tamil Nadu whose last rites were performed by the TMMK.

M.H. Jawahirullah said since the first curfew began on March 25, 2020 the TMMK have been actively taking part in rescue and relief operations of those who died of Coronavirus in Tami Nadu. As a part of it, its volunteers actively involve themselves in burying the bodies. They have been doing this with utmost dedication with proper precautionary measures, he added.

In many occasions, the police department has directly approached TMMK to help them in burying the dead bodies. We have readily extended the service to dispose of the dead bodies in a proper way, the TMMK President quipped.  

As of today there have been 67,468 Covid positive cases reported in Tamil Nadu, of them 37,763 have recovered. So far 866 fatalities are reported from the entire state. 

Chennai continues to be the worst-hit district with 1,380 fresh cases in the state capital taking the number of cases in the city to 44,205. Of these, 39,897 patients are males, 24,686 are females and 20 are transgender patients.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist is based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

विदेशों से आजमीने हज अपने फर्ज हज की अदायगी से वंचित

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

इस वर्ष विश्व के कोने-कोने से लाखों हुज्जाजे कराम हज का तराना अर्थात् लब्बैक पढ़ते हुए मक्का मुकर्रमा नहीं पहुंच पायेंगे

डाक्टर मोहम्मद नजीब कासमी सम्भली

हज के महीनों में शव्वाल का महीना समाप्त होने के बाद जीका'दा महीना के आरम्भ होने पर विश्व में कोरोना वबाई मर्ज के फैलाव के कारण सऊदी हुकूमत ने यह फैसला किया है कि इस वर्ष (2020 - 1441) सऊदी अरब में रहने वाले विभिन्न देशों के नागरिक ही केवल सीमित संख्या में हुज्जाजे कराम की हिफाज़त और सालमीयत के लिए एहतियाती तदाबीर पर अमल करते हुए हजे बैतुल्लाह अदा कर सकेंगे। अर्थात् इस वर्ष विश्व के चप्पे-चप्पे से अल्लाह के मेहमान हज की अदायगी नहीं कर सकेंगे। "हज", नमाज, रोजा और जकात की तरह ही इस्लाम का एक महत्वपूर्ण बुनियादी रुक्न है। सम्पूर्ण जीवन में एक बार प्रत्येक उस व्यक्ति पर हज फर्ज (अनिवार्य) है जिसको अल्लाह ने इतना माल दिया हो कि अपने घर से मक्का मुकर्रमा तक जाने आने पर सक्षम हो और अपने परिवार का भरन पोसन वापसी तक सहन कर सकता हो। अल्लाह तआला का संदेश है: लोगों पर अल्लाह तआला का हक है कि जो उसके घर तक पहुंचने का सामर्थ्य रखते हों वह उसके घर का हज करें और जो व्यक्ति उसके हुक्म को मानने से इंकार करे, उसे मालूम होना चाहिए कि अल्लाह तआला तमाम दुनिया वालों से बेनियाज है। (सूरा आल इमरान - 97)

मार्च के महीने से ऊमरा पर पाबंदी और इस वर्ष विदेशों से हुज्जाजे कराम के हज की अदायगी ना करने पर सऊदी हुकूमत और सऊदी अवाम को अरबों रेयाल का घाटा है। पिछले कुछ वर्षों से करीब 25 - 30 लाख हुज्जाजे कराम हज की अदायगी करते हैं और रमजान के महीने में ऊमरा करने वालों की संख्या उस से भी कहीं अधिक होती है। सऊदी हुकूमत ने कोरोना वबाई मर्ज के कारण देश में लागू पाबंदियां तीन महीने के बाद अब समाप्त कर दी हैं, यहां तक कि खेलों पर लागू पाबंदियां भी 21 जून से उठाली हैं। यद्यपि कि अभी तक मस्जिदे हराम (मक्का मुकर्रमा) आम लोगों के लिए नहीं खोली गई है।

बैतुल्लाह (खाना-ए-काबा) की तामीर के बाद अल्लाह तआला ने हज़रत इब्राहीम अलैहिस्सलाम को हुक्म दिया: लोगों में हज का ऐलान कर दो कि वो पैदल तुम्हारे पास आएंऔर दूर दराज़ के रास्तों से सफर करने वाली उन ऊँटनियों पर सवार होकर आएं (जो लम्बे सफर से दुबली हो गई हों) (सूरह अलहज्ज 27)। हज़रत इब्राहीम अलैहिस्सलाम ने कहा कि ऐ मेरे रब.! मैं कैसे ये पैगाम लोगों तक पहुँचाऊं? आप से कहा गया कि आप हमारे हुक्म के मुताबिक़ आवाज़ लगाएँ, पैगाम को पहुँचाना हमारे ज़िम्मे है। चुनांचे हज़रत इब्राहीम अलैहिस्सलाम ने आवाज़ लगाई, अल्लाह तआला ने अपनी कुदरत से दुनिया के कोने-कोने तक पहुँचाई यहाँ तक कि क़यामत तक जिस शख़्स के मुक़द्दर में भी हज्जे बैतुल्लाह लिखा हुआ था उसने इस आवाज़ को सुनकर लब्बैकक कहा।

जिस तरह दुनिया में बैतुल्लाह (खाना-ए-काबा) का तवाफ़ किया जाता है इसी तरह आसमानों पर अल्लाह तआला का घर है जिसको “बैतुलमामूर” कहा जाता है, उसका हर समय फ़रिश्ते तवाफ़ करते हैं, इस घर के बारे में अल्लाह तआला क़ुरान शरीफ़ में इरशाद फरमाता है: “और क़सम हे “बैतुल मामूर” की”, (सुरह: तूर -4). जब हुज़ूर अकरम सल्लल्लाहु अलैहि व सल्लम को “मेराज” व “इस्रा” की रात में “बैतुल मामूर” ले जाया गया तो हुज़ूर अकरम सल्लल्लाहु अलैहि व सल्लम ने हज़रत जिब्राईल अलैहिस्सलाम से पूछा यह क्या है? हज़रत जिब्राईल ने कहा कि यह “बैतुल मामूर” है, हर रोज़ सत्तर हज़ार फ़रिश्ते इसका तवाफ़ करते हैं, फिर उनकी बारी दोबारा क़यामत तक नहीं आती”। हदीस की मशहूर किताबों में यह हदीस मौजूद है, “तबरी की रिवायत से मालूम होता है कि बैतुल मामूर बैतुल्लाह (खाना-ए-काबा) के बिल्कुल ऊपर आसमान पर है।

नबी अकरम सल्लल्लाहु अलैहि वसल्लम ने फ़रमाया जिस शख्स ने महज़ अल्लाह की ख़ुशनूदी के लिए हज किया और उस दौरान कोई बेहुदा बात या गुनाह नहीं किया तो वह (पाक होकर) ऐसा लौटता है जैसा माँ के पेट से पैदा होने के रोज (पाक था) (बुखारी व मुस्लिम)

दुनिया की शुरुआत से लेकर अब तक इस पाक घर का तवाफ, ऊमरा और हज अदा किया जाता है और इनशाअल्लाह कयामत से पहले बैतुल्लाह के आसमानों पर उठाए जाने तक यह सिलसिला जारी रहेगा। यकीनन कुछ हालात में हज की अदायगी रुकी भी है, मगर सही बुखारी और दूसरी हदीस की किताबों में उल्लेख रसूल-अल्लाह स० के इर्शाद: "कयामत उस वक्त तक कायम नहीं होगी जब तक कि बैतुल्लाह का हज बंद ना हो जाए।" से यह बात स्पष्ट है कि हज का ना होना या हज को स्थगित करना या आजमीने हज को रोकना किसी भी हाल में अच्छी अलामत नहीं है चाहे उसके कुछ भी कारण हों। अल्लाह तआला हम सब की हिफाज़त फरमाए, आमीन!

Dr.  Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi
najeebqasmi@gmail.com
Contact No.: 0091-7017905326
Whatsapp No.: 00966-508237446

Special Report: OIC reiterates peaceful settlement of Jammu & Kashmir issue

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has for the second time in two months raised the issue of Jammu & Kashmir seeking a peaceful settlement of the imbroglio.

A virtual meeting was recently held by the Contact Group of the OIC on Jammu and Kashmir issue on June 22, 2020, against the backdrop of the current situation in the embattled Muslim-dominated border state. The foreign ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Niger, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Turkey participated in the meeting.

The virtual meeting was inaugurated by OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A.  Al-Othaimeen. He stressed the OIC's resolve and commitment to finding a peaceful settlement for the Jammu and Kashmir issue as per the relevant resolutions of the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers, and the international legitimacy. 

Al-Othaimeen in his inaugural address said, "At the same time, I call on the international community to strengthen its efforts to assist the people of Kashmir to decisively practice their legitimate rights denied for decades."

The Contact Group has reaffirmed its continued support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and called on the United Nations Secretary-General to use his good offices to make India abide by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and engage in dialogue to calm the situation in the region.

The Contact Group has asked India to halt security operations against the people of Jammu and Kashmir immediately, respect basic human rights, refrain from changing the demographic structure of the disputed territory, and settle the conflict under the relevant UNSC resolutions.
Meanwhile, the Contact Group also highly appreciated the efforts made by the OIC General Secretariat through its Special Envoy to Jammu and Kashmir who visited the region in March 2020.

The meeting concluded with the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir issuing a statement on the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir region in which it welcomed the efforts made by some Member States to calm the situation between India and Pakistan.

OIC Resolution passed over J&K

Earlier, the premier Muslim World body Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had expressed deep concern over Hindu right-wing Narendra Modi government's unilateral actions to change the demographic composition of Jammu & Kashmir and undermining the rights of the people. 

The OIC had on 20th May 2020 passed a resolution over the Central government's unilateral action, which has largely gone unreported in the Indian media. Without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi the OIC in its resolution stressed the importance of complying with UN Security Council Resolutions and allowing no changes to the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir. 

The OIC Resolution dated 20/05/2020 says:

"The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been following with deep concern the unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and subsequent measures to alter the demographics of and undermine the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory as recognized by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The General Secretariat reaffirmed the importance of complying with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, considering the recent notification of ‘Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020’ as baseless, running counter to international law and UN Security Council resolution 122.

Recalling the Islamic Summits’ and the Council of Foreign Ministers’ resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the General Secretariat reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It also calls on the international community to gear up its efforts to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people."

India, China face off over Ladakh

The Kashmir situation has further worsened with direct face off between India and China. A clash took place between the armies of the two nations at Ladakh's Galwan Valley on June 15. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed and over 80 injured. China claims that the Galwan Valley, which is part of the disputed Ladakh region, is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - the de facto border between the two Asian rivals.

Earlier, a report authored by a senior figure at an influential Chinese think-tank was published on June 4 in a recent Chinese publication Global Times, which has linked the current tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to India’s move last year to abrogate Article 370 and change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, a decision that China had voiced opposition to.

The article, for the first time, described the move as a joint challenge to China and Pakistan, saying the move had “posed a challenge to the sovereignty of Pakistan and China”.

A press officer at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad was the first to share the report on social media.

Modi Government Indicted

The fact that the Jammu & Kashmir issue has been raised by the OIC for the second time in two months is a serious indictment of the current Hindutva government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With its unilateral action of abrogating Article 370 through a parliamentary act, Modi government has sought to internationalize the Jammu & Kashmir issue, which was so far bilateral, but has now become tripartite issue with the direct interference of China. It may be noted that Article 370, which granted Special Status to Jammu & Kashmir, was primarily considered to be a bridge between India and State of Jammu & Kashmir.

The status quo until the abrogation of Article 370 had kept the wheel going and thwarted any direct international interference. With the military face off between India and China the Jammu & Kashmir issue has become more complicated than ever threatening a war between the two countries, and probably with Pakistan too, in the near future. The OIC's and other world bodies' interference shows that India has failed on its foreign policy front as far as Jammu & Kashmir is concerned.

It would have been better that Modi government should have maintained status quo and shouldn't have moved ahead with the unilateral abrogation of Article 370. India should have instead focused on building a robust South Asian regional market and steered its economy well, which is currently tottering and in abysmally bad shape. The warning bells have started sounding for the Modi government as it is on course losing its formidable friends both in the Muslim World and its immediate neighborhood. The time has come to give a serious thought for the peaceful resolution of Jammu & Kashmir issue.    

[Danish Ahmad Khan, a Senior Journalist, is based at New Delhi. He is Founder-Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com - India's First Online Muslim Newspaper. He can be reached at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

Telangana HC concerned over higher number of Muslims booked for lockdown violations

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

New Delhi: The Hyderabad Police has been pulled up by Telangana High Court over the booking of disproportionately higher number of Muslims for violating lockdown rules. 

The Telangana HC had last week asked the Hyderabad police to explain the conduct of its officials over the booking of a large number of Muslims over lockdown rules violations. The HC acted on a petition filed by Sheela Sarah Mathews bringing to the court’s attention the many incidents of police excess and brutality aimed at people for violating the lockdown rules.

The petitioner, represented by Dipak Misra, had also filed an application in the case under section 151 of the CrPC seeking directions from the court to the Respondents to incur medical expenses of the injured persons as stated in the affidavit filed by the petitioner.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner also filed a counter affidavit addressing the various allegations made in the petition and informed the court about the actions taken against some officials for failure to discharge their duties responsibly.

It was submitted that a departmental enquiry has been initiated against Sub-Inspector B Lingam and SHO of Ameerpet Police station, B Mohan Kumar and ACP of Malakpet Division and the court has directed that the progress of the departmental inquiry be informed to the court.
In the counter affidavit, it is also claimed that Mr. Mohd. Asgar and Mr. Khaleem were not assaulted by the police but injured themselves while running away from the police. Reportedly, Mohd. Asgar, who went to fetch groceries, fell from the top of a building as people began to run to a nearby under construction building as police started lathi charge.

The court, in its June 17 order, observed that the injury report of either individual has not been submitted with the counter affidavit. The police, on the allegation that they had assaulted a handicapped person, stated in the counter affidavit that he was a regulator violator with many traffic challans against him, however, these challans were not submitted to the court.

Further, the court directed the police to submit the name of the police personnel, seen in a video circulating on the internet, abusing locals who had stepped out of their homes to buy groceries. The police have admitted in the Counter affidavit that this incident took place.

Responding to another incident of police excess, whereby it was alleged that the police personnel of Falakhnuma Police station damaged vehicles parked on the road, the counter affidavit said, that the police were checking the vehicles for coronavirus. The court was rather surprised and said there was no need to use lathis to check for coronavirus. The court asked for a complete report to be submitted in this regard.

Further, about the allegation that one Mr. Zaidan was attacked by K Hanumanth Kumar of Golconda Police Station, the counter affidavit stated that Zaidan was intercepted by the police as he was riding a two wheeler without a mask and helmet and in an altercation, the police lathi accidentally hit his spectacles which broke and caused injury under the right eye. The Court, however, observed, “the injury report of Zaidan has not been produced before this Court. Obviously, a single injury to right eye cannot cause an injury requiring thirty-five stitches and a hairline fracture. Thus, it is obvious that the correct facts have not been mentioned in the counter affidavit.”

The court further observed, “although it is claimed that Mr. Hanumanth Kumar was suspended by order dated April 29, and a detailed enquiry has been ordered against him, neither the copy of suspension order, nor the further development in the departmental enquiry has been submitted along with the counter-affidavit.”

In the light of the above observations, the court asked the police to file a fresh report along with requisite injury reports.

The Times of India reported that during the hearing, the court questioned why there was disproportionate charging of people belong to the Muslim community for violation lockdown rules. The bench comprising Justices Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and B Vijaysen Reddy asked, “does it mean that there are no violators from other communities?” The bench also pointed out how nationwide protests broke out in the USA when an African-American man was killed by the cops.

The court sought a fresh report from Hyderabad police by June 29 and scheduled the next date of hearing for June 30.

India warned over violations of religious freedom

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 23 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Dr Mike Ghouse

The Center for Pluralism and the supporting organizations welcome the Press Release by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the Annual report released by the U.S. Department of the State (DOS) in June 2020.

The USCIRF made a recommendation to the DOS about the gross violations of religious freedoms in India and listed India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) and suggested penalties against India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, the man behind the violations.

The CPC designation has severe consequences for India. The major global corporations that are interested in India’s prosperity will hesitate to do business in India due to social and political unrest. Most companies in the world want to do business in a stable nation.

The biggest economic threat to India is the loss of prosperity gained by the employees and the companies in the information technology sector. The employees and employers stand to lose all the gains they have made in the last twenty years. In the end, every Indian stand to lose.
Prime Minister Modi earned the CPC title by his calculated silence. He has a record for letting the bad guys do whatever they want. He had once said at the beginning of the Gujarat Massacre to his men, “You’ve three days to finish the job.” meaning kill as many as you can. It resulted in the killing of over 1000 people in February 2002.

Modi lives on with his three days formula – An 8-year-old girl Asifa was gang-raped and butchered into pieces, Modi did not speak until the whole nation was agitated. Ansari was brutally beaten with crowbars; Modi did not talk until the entire country condemned it. There were 114 such incidents during his six-year reign. In March this year, his men placed the saffron flag on their homes to identify Muslim homes who did not have the flag – they burned several houses and killed nearly 50 people. Modi did not speak or even had the courtesy to visit.

Christians and Muslims are given an ultimatum by a few members of the ruling BJP Party, that they (230 Million) have three options. Convert to Hinduism, live as 2nd class citizens, or disappear. Mr. Modi has not said a word to allay the fears.

Prime Minister Modi needs to repeal the unnecessary Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and the protests will stop at once, and the nation’s social and political stability will return. The demand for birth certificates is to separate Muslims as the Jews in the Holocaust were pinned Megan David on their sleeves. As per the provisions of the law, if one is a Hindu or of other faith, he/she gets automatic citizenship, but Muslims will go to the detention camps. The great Indian people of all religions have joined the protests, and they have realized, discrimination to one is discrimination to all. The demonstrations are identical to the George Floyd protests across the world.

The Modi government arrested a pregnant woman Safoora Zargar for protesting. She was slapped with false charges. Mr. Amit Shah has extensive experience with making up charges against the people he doesn’t like or, worse, killing them in fake encounters.

Kaleem Kawaja of Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM) adds, “We hope the Government of India heeds the reports issued by the Department of State and work on correcting the course and save India from the destruction of social structure leading the economic disaster.”

We offer the following solutions to restore sanity and democracy, take back the title of CPC, and recognize all citizens are equal under the law.

We urge the Indian government to issue the visas to the Commissioners of USCIRF to verify the truth and make the recommendations to rectify the wrongs heaped on Indian Citizens, particularly the Kashmiri citizens.

We urge the Prime Minister to speak up and tell the nation that he will not tolerate lynching, cow vigilantes, raping, and harassment of fellow Indians. The calls for Christians and Muslims to convert to Hinduism or live as second-class citizens will be pushed back, and the callers will face serious consequences.

The report in its entirety can be read Here

[Mike Ghouse is the founder and president of the Center for Pluralism. He is a speaker, thinker, author, consultant, pluralist, activist, newsmaker, and an interfaith wedding officiant. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions to the media and the policymakers. He blogs at TheGhousediary.com] 

Editor's Pick

SPECIAL REPORT: Indian religious leaders strongly protest against South Korean government hounding of Shincheonji Church despite cooperation to contain COVID-19 spread

By Danish Ahmad Khan The government of South Korea is pursuing a discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church while accusing it of COVI...

IMO Search Finder

Subscribe IMO

    Archive