The BJP has made strong claims and pledges that endanger India’s largest minority; paving a way for extreme religious nationalism. With the rise of Hindu nationalist attacks on Muslims, what does the future look like for India’s Muslims?
Quite recently, the city of Allahabad (literally meaning “House of Allah” or “House of God”) was renamed to Prayagraj, similar to the city’s original name “Prayaga” before the Mughal emperor Akbar renamed the city to Allahabad. BJP leaders then changed the name to Prayagraj, justifying the act by saying that it was to restore the city’s identity as a major Hindu pilgrimage centre. This was seen as part of a series of attacks on Mughal history and an attempt to slowly get rid of Islamic Mughal culture.
Another example of an attack on Mughal culture includes the removal of the famous Taj Mahal from the pages of Indian tourist magazines and government websites. The Taj Mahal, commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world and a designated UNESCO world heritage site. Despite the importance of Taj Mahal in Indian history, the BJP have taken measures to undermine and slowly erase the Taj Mahal from tourist magazines and government websites.
This eradication of Islamic culture in India can be seen as a form of silent cultural genocide as the BJP push for a religious nationalist mindset in Indians and alienate Muslims by isolating them from calling themselves Indian.
Last year February, BJP Minister Vinay Katiyar stated that “Muslims shouldn’t even live in this country (referring to India), they should go to Pakistan or Bangladesh” despite the fact that Bangladesh is a secular country and that most Indian Muslims dislike Pakistan.
Although the tensions between Muslims and Hindus haven’t erupted to alarming levels, the alienation of Islamic history in India and the alienation of Muslims in general by the BJP will eventually lead to riots influenced by religious nationalism – as seen before. Will India see a recurrence of the Hindu-Muslim communal riots or will India stand united against religious nationalism? Let us know what you think!