Islamophobia has reached its crest in India. Today, as the world battles against coronavirus which has already claimed lakhs of lives, India battles another threat- hatred against Muslims. Muslims are being detained, arrested, attacked, tortured and boycotted due to the emerging hatred against them. Even amidst the pandemic, Muslim activists, journalists and students are being detained and arrested.
Islamophobia is an issue that India is facing since decades but it took a completely different turn when the Indian authorities announced that they found a large number of Muslims who tested positive for coronavirus as they attended the religious congregation of Tablighi Jamaat. (The congregation was not only attended by Indians but also by the people of other countries). No sooner did this news come to light than the extremist Hindu government (BJP) rulers started giving provocative statements and making derogatory comments nationally against Muslims giving rise to hatred among people. Many of them even called it “Corona Terrorism”. A deadly virus which affected millions of people across the globe, on entering the Indian shores was linked with religion.
The anti-Muslim media even called it “CoronaJihad” and this hashtag went trending on all social media platforms. According to Equality Labs, a digital advocacy group, the “CoronaJihad” hashtag was circulated 3,00,000 times. The Indian news channels came up with demeaning catchphrases and completely blamed the rise in coronavirus cases in the country on the meeting. They even called the people who attended the congregation as “suicide bombers” and “corona bombs.” The Indian media profiled the cases on the basis of religion. Muslims were accused of deliberately spreading coronavirus across the country. The outbreak of coronavirus gave the leaders of Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party another reason to target Muslims.
Just a few months before the outbreak of COVID-19, the government of India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act. According to the CAA, non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had arrived in India before Dec 31, 2014, will be granted citizenship automatically. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) which requires people to produce documents of ancestry to prove their citizenship was opposed to be implemented nationwide. It aimed at identifying the immigrants so it was feared that many Muslims who have been living in India for ages would be stripped off their citizenship rights and would be left stateless if they were not able to prove their citizenship. The act was the first time religion had been used as a criterion for citizenship under Indian Law. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also called it “fundamentally discriminatory”.
The result of this act was protests and riots across different states in India. Delhi, the capital of India witnessed one of the worst riots in history. Even in such a sensitive situation, the RSS and BJP leaders didn’t back off in making derogatory comments inducing the supporters of the government to commit violence against Muslims. It ultimately led to destruction and deaths.
India has become an epicentre of Islamophobia. I don’t know when and how will it end. Oppression and discrimination on the basis of religion need to stop. Communalising every incident needs to stop. All religions are beautiful. Muslims are no different. Equality is what we need at this point of time. We need to unite and bring back love, peace and harmony in India.
It’s been long since we parted ways but I still feel your absence every day. Loving you wasn’t easy but it is so much harder to let you go. I don’t know how to cope up with the pain of losing you. I still don’t know how to heal my invisible wounds and fix my broken heart again. Sometimes I feel hurt or lonely or uneasy or broke. But mostly I feel a little of all these. I never thought I’d ever fall in love with someone so deeply and dedicatedly. You always meant so much to me. Now I miss every little thing of yours. I miss your smile, your laugh, your eyes, your hugs, your kisses, your touch and so much more. From our first date to our last kiss, I miss every moment we spent together. I miss you missing me, teasing me, making me blush and telling me how much you love me.
Remember, how you used to say that I completely fit in you when you hugged me? Yes, we did fit perfectly in each other. We were like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle who completed each other. Without one piece, the puzzle is always incomplete just the way we’re incomplete without each other. Your arms were my place to rest. They were my home. I used to forget all my pains and worries when you hugged me. But now I wander in search of a place to soothe my soul. I’m still not able to accept the fact that I won’t be able to go back to your arms to relieve myself every time I get entangled in my own thoughts. I spend my nights looking at your pictures, listening to our call recordings or remembering every moment spent with you. I’ve not slept peacefully in months. I miss our night calls and still wait for your call every night so that we could fall asleep together. I wait for you to kiss me and sing me to sleep. Every night I still dream of you and wait for those dreams to come true every day.
There are times when I cry making myself sick but there are also times when I couldn’t cry missing you. My heart aches for your love and my mind is never at peace. There’s an empty space in my heart now that won’t ever get filled by anyone because that’s your place. You’ll always stay there. I’ll never be able to replace you. I don’t care what others think about you, for me you’ll always stay the best. There’s no one like you. No one will ever love me the way you did someday. Maybe you don’t love me the same way now but I know that somewhere you still feel for me and that feeling won’t ever end no matter how hard you try.
Love, you were a gift to me who brought together my scattered life. You sorted my complicated life and I tried my best to make your life beautiful. Your love was all I needed. It kills me now to even think about my future without you. I might’ve never been the perfect girlfriend but no one will ever love you the way I do.
And right now, as tears roll down my cheeks, I write this letter to you. Love, I know you’re suffering too and I want it to end as soon as possible. I crave for your presence in my life more than anything else. We weren’t supposed to end like this. I don’t know if it’s ever possible again, but all I wish for is a miracle to happen so that everything gets sorted and you find your way back to me.
The condition of women has changed drastically over time, but we still live in a “male dominant” society. Every society has its traditions which shape the mind and understanding of an individual. We live in a society where males get authority and power over females. Women have always been depicted as weak, dependent and inferior. Unfair and unjust use of authority, power and physical force to hold back women from being independent and equal are happening since generations in our society.
Cultural oppression is the most significant cause of domination over women. Culture is defined as the ideas, customs, and beliefs of a particular section of society. It doesn’t justify the oppression of females. Women abuse exists in every society and culture, but it isn’t the same everywhere. The severity of oppression is different in every community. Women are always taught to stay quiet, talk softly, and remain calm by the dominant forces prevailing in our society according to their definition of an IDEAL woman. The society suppresses the voice of females every time they speak of equality. Females are not given a right to have an opinion, put forward their thoughts, have arguments, conflicts, or even take the decisions of their own lives. The oppression starts from their family itself but gets beautifully covered by the scented love and affection that prevails therein.
Sexists are those who discriminate on gender basis. This mindset is seemed to be natural and unchangeable due to various traditions and myths incurring to thoughts that contribute yet another reason for female oppression. Women dominated professions are paid less in comparison to male-dominated professions. The pay gap occurs due to gender discrimination. Sometimes women are paid less than men for the same job. In many societies, females are bound to live within the four walls and take care of the household. They are not allowed to work. If they work then they’re questioned – “Why do you need to work when your husband earns well?”, “How can a woman having children work?” or “How could you manage work as well as the household?” They tell females that their only job is to produce children, raise them and look after their family and household. They kill all the whims and fancies, wants, and desires of women by confining them within the walls of the house.
Oppression is both a means and a result of sexual violence. Women are told to cover their bodies and faces so that it doesn’t trigger the fantasies of men. Women are displayed as sex objects. Females are threatened, humiliated and insulted to dominate them. In many instances, if women oppose men, they’re sexually abused or beaten to death. Both sexual and domestic violence are used as physical tools to oppress and dominate women.
Females all over the world face various challenges to prove their worth. From the inability to access education to gender-based violence, there is a tale of hardships faced by them. We need to empower the voice of women. To overcome and change this oppression and discrimination, the mentality of people needs to evolve.
“Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression” — Nelson Mandela.
Dear Society, I know you’re going to get offended by my letter to you but you need to realize everything that’s wrong with you. We’re in the 21st century but you’re just going backward instead of moving forward. How difficult is it for you to understand that people are happy in being who they are and what they do? They don’t need to live by following the norms and rules created by you.
I’ve got a few questions to ask. When did it become okay to criticize people? When did it become okay to bully them for who they are? Why do you need to differentiate between men and women? Why have you set a standard for everything? Don’t you know that your rules and criticisms lead so many people to their death beds? Don’t you know that some of your norms are to be followed forcefully by a majority of people because they are a part of you?
You refuse to accept love. You refuse to accept inter-caste love, inter-religious love, or the love of two people of the same gender. And the only reason you give for all this is that it’s against your religious and cultural beliefs. You kill people in the name of religion, sometimes physically and sometimes mentally. You’ve set standards and timelines for everything. You want a woman to get settled and married before the age of 25. You want a woman to have kids before the age of 35. Why do you need to fix an age limit for everything? Why do you give your mind so much stress by worrying about all this? It’s none of your business. You don’t uphold an authority in anyone’s life so who are you to take decisions of others lives?
Society, you’re bias and a hypocrite. We’re a part of a society where men and women are never treated equally. We’re always told that men are superior to women. Women are always told to sit properly, wear decent clothes, get home before it’s dark and the list is never-ending. You make women conscious of who they are. Why do you make women fear you? Why don’t women feel safe, free, and comfortable being a part of you? Why is there so much discrimination? You’ve got to stop now. You need to change your mentality, norms, rules, and beliefs.
Society, you’ve to stop fragmenting and differentiating based on caste, religion, race, gender and colour. You should start accepting people for who they are. You need to unite instead of dividing for a better future. The world is changing, the people are changing and you need to change too. You need to stop choking the throat of humanity by making people abide to your norms and rules. It’s never too late to change and you need to change for the coming generations.