This Is What the Modi Sarkar Has Done to Indian Muslims

Indian Muslims are being stripped of their Indian identity even as they are blamed for not being Indian enough.

Studying at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in the 1990s, my first physical fight was with a Muslim Kashmiri boy during the telecast of an India-Pakistan cricket match on the hostel TV set. He kept supporting Pakistan even when our team was playing better cricket.

I was a total nationalist. I loved war movies depicting Indian victory. A lump rose in my throat every time I heard the song ‘Sare jahan se achha Hindustan humara’. My heartbreaks when India lost crucial cricket matches were the talk of the town. All in all, my heart bled for India and I decided to stay put here even when most of my allegedly ‘non-patriotic’ Muslim friends and axiomatically ‘patriotic’ Hindu friends opted to leave for greener pastures in the West. Continue reading

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The abandoned mansions of Pakistan (Full Documentary) BBC Stories

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Blackbirding: Australia’s history of luring, tricking and kidnapping Pacific Islanders

Recent debate in the United States over the legacy of slavery has reignited discussions about Australia’s own dark past.

Starting from the 1860s, tens of thousands of Pacific Islanders were taken to Australia to work on plantations in Queensland, often by force or trickery.

Unmarked mass graves full of labourers who died on those plantations are still being uncovered today.

Now their descendants, the Australian South Sea Islander community, are calling for their history to be properly recognised.

What was ‘blackbirding’?

While there is evidence that some of the 62,000 people sent to Australia came willingly, and signed contracts to work on the plantations, many others were lured or taken forcibly onto the boats. Continue reading

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Elixir of Lies – Hindutva groups turn to cow urine for protection from COVID-19 – AHAN PENKAR

Shortly after noon on 14 March, in a makeshift tent next to a temple on Delhi’s Mandir Marg, a bizarre religious ritual was underway. A man in Hindu religious garb faced a flex banner that carried the image of a demon with the word “Corona” stamped across its chest, as well as photos, taken from tourism websites, of Chinese people eating bees, an octopus, a frog and a lobster, with speech bubbles saying, “Save us Corona!” As he sprinkled generous quantities of gaumutra—cow urine—on the image of the demon, the man chanted, “Corona shant ho jao, shant ho jao corona”—Calm down, corona. One of the assembled priests started distributing earthen cups of gaumutra as prasad, while another showered gulal mixed with gaumutra as “a blessing from god.”

Two days before, the World Health Organisation had formally declared the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 a pandemic. The WHO provided all countries a four-pronged strategy: preparing health facilities, detecting and treating new cases, reducing transmission of the virus and innovating ways to tackle the pandemic. This “gaumutra party,” organised by a group known as the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha—its members claim that it is a faction of the Hindu Mahasabha of VD Savarkar—was unusual, but not particularly innovative. Over the last few years, gaumutra has been heralded as a panacea for so many diseases that it was inevitable that someone would include COVID-19 in that list. Continue reading

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From Jan 1996 – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – interview with Pakistani Qawwali singer – Interview by Jeff Buckley

Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan drives people wild with his music, which is an unbelievable combination of rich, soaring, complex sounds including something that is hard to describe but reminds us of yodeling. His music has been featured on movie soundtracks and in concert halls around the world, and his ecstatic voice haunts all who hear it. Here, the sensational singer Jeff Buckley talks with the man who has, for so long, inspired him

Born in a region where music is as much of a birthright as breathing, singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is held to be the brightest star in Qawwali, a form of Islamic devotional music, in all of Pakistan – “bright,” that is, as in blinding. A vocal art over seven centuries old, Qawwali is passed down orally from father to son (in rare cases to daughters) by Sufi masters. Sufism is a Muslim philosophical and literary movement dating back to the tenth century. Borrowing tenets from other world religions, including Buddhism and Christianity, this mystical order stresses the personal union of the soul with God through poetry and symbolism. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has single-handedly transformed this art from a static antique into a brilliant explosion of light. Through his ecstatic performances, Khan’s Qawwali acts as a living testament to music’s power to link all humans, unashamed of emotion, to the divine. At once soaring and penetrating, these sounds seem to rip open the sky, slowly revealing the radiant face of the beloved. Qawwals don’t sing, they are born to sing, and the men who accompany Khan in his ensemble do not just play music, they become music itself. Every Qawwali performer is excellent, mind you, for they all, by definition, must sing from a heart burning with a passionate love for Allah (God), the Prophet Muhammad, and the saints, and must be totally open to the divine. For them, there is nothing else. Six years after first discovering his music, I was able to meet the man whose voice has healed the fuck out of me. We talked in a vast hotel room in New York City, through his interpreter, Rashid Ahmed Din, who knows Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s story better than anyone. I wouldn’t lie to you, this is the man.

JEFF BUCKLEY: The first real Qawwali I ever heard was called “Yeh Jo Halka Halka,” from the album The Day, the Night, the Dawn, the Dusk on Shanachie Records.

NUSRAT FATEH ALl KHAN: You liked it?

JB: It saved my life. I was in a very bad place.

NFAK: Where were you?

JB: Just depressed. Continue reading

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Islamophobia taints India’s response to the coronavirus – Rana Ayub

It didn’t take long before India’s response to the coronavirus was tainted by the kind of discrimination and Islamophobia that has characterized the nationalist administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The hashtags #CoronaJihad and #BioJihad have inundated Twitter recently. It all stems from cases of covid-19 reported at a Muslim event.

On Sunday, the Indian government linked more than a thousand cases to the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary group that held its annual meeting in a community center in Nizamuddin from March 8-10, days before India declared a health emergency and called for a national lockdown. While most people, including Muslims, agree that holding the annual meeting was irresponsible and endangered many lives, the event has faced a disproportional amount of criticism while generating a cascade of vitriol.

Virtually overnight, Muslims became the sole culprits responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in India.

Never mind that various religious groups held temple gatherings across India during the same period of time, putting many lives at risk. In the northern state of Madhya Pradesh, more than 25,000 people have been placed in quarantine after a man who traveled from Dubai performed Hindu rituals with 1,200 people on March 20.

Continue reading

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As coronavirus cases explode in Iran, U.S. sanctions hinder its access to drugs and medical equipment

ISTANBUL – Sweeping U.S. sanctions are hampering Iranian efforts to import medicine and other medical supplies to confront one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the world, health workers and sanctions experts say.

The broad U.S. restrictions on Iran’s banking system and the embargo on its oil exports have limited Tehran’s ability to finance and purchase essential items from abroad, including drugs as well as the raw materials and equipment needed to manufacture medicines domestically.

The Trump administration has also reduced the number of licenses it grants to companies for certain medical exports to Iran, according to quarterly reports from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, the enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department. The list of items requiring special authorization includes oxygen generators, full-face mask respirators and thermal imaging equipment, all of which are needed to treat patients and keep medical workers safe, doctors say. Continue reading

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BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy by RAMZY BAROUD

It was only a matter of time before the anti-Muslim sentiment in India turned violent.

A country that has historically prided itself on its diversity and tolerance, and for being ‘the largest democracy in the world’ has, in recent years, exhibited the exact opposite qualities – chauvinism, racism, religious intolerance, and, at times, extreme violence.

The latest round of violence ensued on February 23, one day before US President Donald Trump arrived in Delhi on his first official visit to India. Continue reading

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What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19 by ROBERT FISK

And still the virus shrouds Donald Trump’s mischief in the Middle East.

First it was his sly retreat from Iraq; now it’s his cosy military exercises with the United Arab Emirates – famous in song and legend as a former Saudi ally in the bloody Yemen war – and his cut of $1bn in aid to Afghanistan because its presidential feuding may hamper another deal with his newly established chums in the Taliban. And then there’s Iran

So let’s look for a moment at the extraordinary mock city built in the Emirates – complete with multi-storey buildings, hotels, apartment complexes, an airport control tower, oil refineries and a central mosque – which Emirati troops and US Marines have been assaulting with much clamour in a joint military exercise. According to the Associated Press reporter who watched this Hollywood-style epic, Emirati soldiers rappelled from helicopters while Marines “searched narrow streets on the Persian Gulf for mock-enemy forces”.

But who were these “forces”? Iranian, perhaps? In which case, the mock-mosque was presumably Shia, the oil refineries presumably in southern Iran, and the old streets in one of Iran’s ancient cities. Surely not Shiraz. Surely not Isfahan. Continue reading

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India’s Failed Democracy by MEL GURTOV

India is often billed as the world’s biggest democracy. But that title has worn thin: Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is becoming a nationalist state home to Hindus and closed to Muslims. A new citizenship law is exclusionist: It provides a path to citizenship for every religion save Islam, which is practiced by roughly 16 percent of India’s population, or nearly 200 million people. Modi proclaims the law part of the “New India.”

Besides being inhumane, the new law is clearly unconstitutional. According to India’s constitution, any “person who has his domicile in the territory of India and—(a) who was born in the territory of India; or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.” Among the “fundamental rights” granted under the constitution are: (1) “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” (2) “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition . . . ” Continue reading

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