Indian BJP is Using Israel War on Gaza to Demonize Muslims Featured

By Gamal Khattab June 10, 2024 52


India's ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, tweeted on Oct. 7 as a comparison between the Hamas resistance strike on Israel and the situation of India before the time when Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014. It read, "What Israel is facing today, India suffered between 2004 and 2014." "Never forgive, never forget".
The motive was clear. The message, accompanied by a video of past militant attacks, pushed a narrative of what is called “Islamist terrorism” in a country of 220 million Muslims that the Modi-led government had demonized ahead of the general elections in India.
Within hours of the tweet, Indian pro PJB news channels framed the resistance attack on Israel as a warning of Islamic jihad, saying India had long battled these forces! Both India and Israel announced they had the same enemy: Islam! Millions of tweets trended in support of Israel and in anti-Muslim terms.
This is a progression from a twisted form of belief in Hindu supremacy. Hindu nationalists have, in the past, been great admirers of Adolf Hitler, and the chief ideologue of the movement, M.S. Golwalkar, once described the Nazis' "final solution" as a lesson to learn. "Mein Kampf," a book that is about racial superiority, has always been a bestseller in India.
Today, however, many Hindu nationalists are staunch advocates of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Modi considers a close friend and ally.
Far-right Hindu nationalists also rallied outside the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, demanding to be let into the Israel Defense Forces to fight the enemy of both Israel and India. One TV anchor declared that “we are also the victim of the same kind of radicalized Islamist terroristic mindset which Israel is a victim of. Israel is fighting this war for all of us.” Another BJP leader warned on social media that if India does not oppose politically motivated radicalism, it could face a fate like Israel's.
This kind of rousing support for Israel is a departure from India's decades-old policy of supporting the cause of the Palestinians. According to a 2019 short profile on the official Indian government's website, support for the Palestinian cause remains central to India's foreign policy. In 1974, India became the first non-Arab country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
However, Israel is welcomed by Modi's BJP in keeping with the sentiments of many conservative Hindu nationalists that they deserve a Hindu state, much the same way Zionists succeeded in getting a Jewish state. The Hindu nationalists, often found on social media with swastikas or Hitler images, acknowledge the irony: Israel is the one state to have done it. That is the reason why they describe the country in those terms. They want to replicate it in India, where the equal citizenship of Muslims is already under assault by new laws in parliament.
While Israel's defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said "we are fighting human animals and we're responding the way we know how," his words were cheered in many corners of Indian social media. Hamas is seen by the Indian right not as any old Palestinian but any Muslim.
The global terrorist attacks have been utilized by the India right-wing in the past to generate anti-Muslim sentiments, and this is not the first time. After the 9/11 attacks, Modi, who was a senior member of the BJP at the time, appeared on the talk show \"The Big Fight\" to lambast the Indian press for not acknowledging Islamist terrorism and to selectively quote from the Quran to use against Islam and Islamists. A few months later, more than a thousand people, mainly Muslims, were killed in a 2002 massacre in Gujarat, the Indian state where Modi was the chief minister. Modi was denied entry into the United States for nearly a decade because of his failure to stop the riots.
Misinformation and disinformation are flourishing as Islamophobic hate is at its peak in India while the Israel-Gaza conflict unfolds. Distorted, manipulated or mislabelled videos from India have been shared on social media and gained millions of views. Pro-government social media is demanding a complete social boycott of Muslims to stop them from spying on Hindus; this is following accounts of Palestinians who were spying for Hamas while travelling to Israel to work. WhatsApp messages are being circulated to urge Indians to stand by Modi as the only solution that can stop such a disaster from occurring.
The political Islamophobia can be seen being rewarded by India's strong support to Israel. The Indian general election is due to be held in April and May 2019, and during this time, all seats in the lower house of Indian parliament will be contested. The Israel and Gaza conflict has arrived.