What it means to be a Muslim in India? Strange question isn’t! India is home to world’s third largest Muslim population. According to many, it is the presence of Muslims which gives India a secular and plural character.
So, why are we asking this question?
Let us take the following cases, in an alien city a boy in his twenties go around looking for a room to stay, the first thing landlords ask is – what is your faith, religion? The moment he says he is Muslim- the doors of most houses are shut for him. A lot many will recommend ‘why don’t you stay with your people’? Who are his people? Aren’t all Indians his people?
India-Pakistan cricket match- O Muslims of India wear patriotism on your sleeves, otherwise you shall be declared anti-national, Pakistan sympathizer.
Any bomb-blast anywhere and most of us will believe that the cowardly act can only be committed by those who follow Islam. Herds of topi-daadiwallas (men with skull cap and beard) will be arrested within a blink. The only reason for their arrest is that they profess Islam as their religion. No questions further asked. If you say anything against these arbitrary arrests, you’re declared to be anti-national by both media and the government.
Encounters are done in broad-day light; police version is filled with loopholes. Dare to say those were fake- you shall be deemed as anti-India. And further if the one who is questioning is Muslim, my dear friends, beware he will be termed as ‘conspiracy theorist’ and dismissed.
Encounters, arbitrary arrests, institutionalized discrimination, make believe binaries of extremist, moderate-liberal- all that is alienating Muslims from ‘mainstream narrative’ is what Mahtab Alam- an activist who of late started loving ‘five star’ chocolate will be speaking about this Saturday at Paradigm Shift, Bangalore.
Mahtab Alam: Mahtab is a Delhi based civil rights activist and writer. Currently, he is a consultant with Amnesty International India, where he coordinates Human Rights Defenders Project. He co-edits www.indiaresists.com, an independent web portal focused on the issues of Democracy, Justice and Resistance. Previously, he has worked with various rights groups/organisations, including Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Association for the Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (CPHRD).He blogs at https://mahtabnama.wordpress.com/.
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For more details you can either write to us email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: +919663427315, visit our website: www.paradigmshift.org.in