Award defies logic given Mr. Modi’s record before and after taking office as Prime Minister
New York, NY: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has condemned the Saudi government’s decision to confer Indian Prime Minister Modi with the nation’s highest civilian award.
“It is expected that the Indian Prime Minister is accorded the respect befitting a head of state. However, conferring of the highest civilian award on Mr. Modi by those who claim to be the custodians of the two Holy Mosques is a slap in the face of survivors of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002. It is also a demonstration of indifference to the increased attacks and threats against the religious minorities and Dalits in India,” said Umar Malick, President of IAMC.
Modi and the Saudi monarchy have much in common. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi presided over one of the worst episodes of sectarian violence in independent India, when over 2,000 people were massacred by mobs instigated by the Hindu-supremacist groups. The horrific killings were accompanied by rape and pillage, resulting in the displacement of over 150,000 Muslims from their homes, many of whom are still struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives. Modi continues to have a case pending against him in the Gujarat High Court and a tainted Special Investigation Team failed to initiate prosecution of Mr. Modi. The handful of convictions in the cases related to the pogroms in Gujarat have happened as a result of tireless and courageous work by activists and whistleblowers, whom the Modi government has harassed and intimidated.
Since coming to power, the Modi administration has worked steadily to erode religious freedom and India’s long-cherished traditions of tolerance among its diverse populace. Ranging from attacks on churches and mob violence against Muslims and Dalits, to felicitating the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Modi’s administration and its supporters have relentlessly pursued a divisive agenda, that is antithetical to the country’s Constitution and its egalitarian ideals. The demonization of intellectuals, the vigilantism encouraged by the state, and the weakening of institutions are all indications of a besieged Indian democracy.
Saudi forces are conducting indiscriminate airstrikes in Yemen that are widely acknowledged to have caused huge loss of civilian lives, creating an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe. Incidentally, the monarchy had conferred the same award given to Mr. Modi, on Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt.
“Coming from the Saudi monarchy, which is known for its repressive domestic policies and human rights violations, the award itself is of dubious value. It diminishes, rather than enhances the office of the Prime Minister of India,” added Malick. Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.iamc.com