India is miles away but its tyranny quivers and shapes US policy

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Last weekend, a Muslim activist in India was arrested and his house bulldozed by authorities who suspected him of orchestrating protests that turned violent in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the north of the country.

Javed Muhammad, whose daughter Afreen Fatima is also an organizer, was not the only one whose family property was destroyed. At least two other people protesting Islamophobic remarks made by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party had their homes razed to the ground.

“Bulldozing justice” has recently become commonplace against Muslim activists and business owners in India.

Meanwhile, American supporters of the BJP and its far-right paramilitary affiliate Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are verbally crushing and harassing, like a swarm of restless bees, anyone in the United States who dares to speak out against the appalling treatment of India. towards its religious minorities, oppressed castes and other marginalized groups.

Then they remove their prods in the presence of politicians and community leaders and lure them into a honey trap, convincing them that any criticism of India is offensive and divisive.

That’s exactly the number of city council members who were persuaded last year to bring down a non-binding, stripped down resolution that simply said discrimination in India was wrong. Chicago leaders should not weigh in on international issues, some have argued. But less than a year later, a resolution supporting the “Independence, Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” was passed by the city council without controversy.

Many South Asians of all faiths, horrified by the bloodshed and fanaticism abroad, believe a similar playbook has been released with the recent statements released in defense of US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, D -Ill., which upset many of his former followers. to get closer to Modi and other BJP/RSS leaders.

“The time (…) to make threats against non-white people, in particular because of the color of their skin, their religious affiliation or their country of origin, must remain behind us”, tweeted the reverend Jesse Jackson after writer and activist Pieter. Friedrich stood outside the congressman’s office in Schaumburg on May 21 and said, “Nazis out, Raja must go” and a Desi slogan that offended Krishnamoorthi.

Friedrich has been a thorn in Krishnamoorthi’s side since he moved to suburban western California last month to shine a light on right-wing India’s influence on local politics. Friedrich’s style is brash and his Nazi references can harm the cause of Muslim rights.

The problem, however, is not with him. It is about the persecution in India that has been swept under the rug by many American leaders due to the handiwork of their donors supporting the BJP/RSS.

Jackson said he took issue with the language used by Friedrich.

Curiously, Jackson’s four-part tweet echoed talking points from American Indians who fought against the city council resolution and failed to mention that Friedrich spoke out against oppression in India.

Krishnamoorthi accused Friedrich of issuing death threats for chanting “Krishnamoorthi murdabad”.

Murdabad literally translates to “death to” in Hindi and Urdu.

However, when used in political discourse in India and Pakistan, murdabad means “down,” according to Tyler Williams, associate professor of South Asian languages ​​and civilizations at the University of Chicago. “It’s absolutely not a death threat,” Williams said.

Friedrich argues that he only referred to Hitler’s party because the most influential RSS leader was inspired by Nazi Germany.

Friedrich went on to say that the homophobic and anti-abortion remarks for which Equality Illinois and Secretary of State Jesse White denounced him in their support of Krishnamoorthi were made when he was a Christian fundamentalist as a teenager. “I own them and bear responsibility for them, but I repudiate those views now,” Friedrich, 36, said.

Krishnamoorthi, meanwhile, told me that he was “very concerned” about the rhetoric used against Muslims and other minorities by the BJP/RSS and that he condemns any violence carried out by them.

The congressman rushed to O’Hare Airport in 2017 to join protesters and immigration lawyers when Donald Trump issued the ‘Muslim ban’. He also issued statements condemning derogatory comments made towards the Prophet Muhammad by leading members of the BJP and the call for genocide of Muslims at a conference in India earlier this year. Very appreciated.

But it is difficult to ignore the reported presence of Krishnamoorthi at several events organized by Hindu nationalists, including a commemoration of the 94th anniversary of the RSSa group that Williams describes as the Indian equivalent of the Proud Boys.

You can’t stand against someone when you’re on their side.

Krishnamoorthi is on the right side on domestic issues – Black Lives Matter, the environment, etc. – but as far as India is concerned, he “encourages the Modi government”, said Nikhil Mandalaparthythe advocacy director of Hindus for Human Rights.

Krishnamoorthi said he was willing to meet those who are worried about the tyrannical grip that has gripped India and conceded: “I have to do more to keep speaking out.”

We will wait.

Rummana Hussain is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Sun-Times.

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