No, Mr Obama, Indian Muslims do not need a self-proclaimed saviour

Obama's audacity to suggest that the "protection of the Muslim minority" is essential to prevent India from "pulling apart" is not only uninformed but also deeply offensive.

By Omer Ghazi

In a recent display of ignorance and hypocrisy, former US President Barack Obama made unsolicited comments regarding the “protection of the Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India” during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States.

Obama’s audacity to suggest that the “protection of the Muslim minority” is essential to prevent India from “pulling apart” is not only uninformed but also deeply offensive. It is evident that Obama fails to comprehend India’s internal dynamics, its secular ethos, and the nation’s commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.

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Indian officials, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, aptly questioned Obama’s credibility in making such remarks. Sitharaman rightly pointed out that Obama presided over a presidency that saw bombings in Muslim-majority countries such as Syria and Yemen.

Throughout Barack Obama’s tenure in office, Afghanistan experienced a significant increase in civilian casualties. In 2014, when Obama initiated the withdrawal of troops from the country, many hoped it would lead to a period of peace and stability in the region. However, instead of achieving those goals, this action presented an opportunity for a drastic escalation in air warfare.

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Wikipedia

Afghanistan bore the brunt of U.S. bombardment, with the administration relentlessly dropping 1,337 weapons on the country in 2016 alone. The year 2016 witnessed a staggering total of 26,171 bombs (including drones and other forms of weaponry) dropped by the Obama administration across seven countries, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.

Unfortunately, the consequences of these military operations resulted in the loss of innocent lives. On average, from 2007 to 2016, the United States, in collaboration with its allies, took the lives of 582 civilians annually. These casualties stand as a tragic reminder of the devastating toll that warfare and military interventions had on civilian populations.

It is worth mentioning that the Obama administration’s collaboration with Pakistan’s ISI contributed to human rights violations in Afghanistan and further destabilised Pakistan. How can someone with such a record lecture India on protecting its citizens?

Indian Muslims are an integral part of the diverse fabric of Indian society, and they lead lives of dignity and respect. They have the freedom to practice their religion, celebrate their festivals, and participate in various cultural and social activities. India’s secular constitution ensures that all citizens, irrespective of their religious background, are treated equally under the law.

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It is vital to recognize that Indian Muslims are not a minority but the second-largest majority in the country. India’s secular foundation ensures equal treatment for all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation. Terms like “Hindu India” and “Muslim India” used by Obama are not only meaningless but also perpetuate a regressive mindset that Indian Muslims themselves reject.

Indian Muslim; Image source: Twitter
Indian Muslim; Image source: Twitter

The idea of dividing India along religious lines, as Obama implies, is archaic and parochial. The tragic partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, fueled by this very concept, resulted in immense bloodshed and the birth of a failed state that exports terrorism. It is essential to remember that the secular and democratic Republic of India recognizes citizens based on their rights and not their religious identities.

Contrary to Obama’s misguided comments, Indian Muslims have the right to vote, hold public office, and contribute to the nation’s progress. They have made significant contributions to various fields, including politics, armed forces, academia, arts, science, and business. Indian Muslims have excelled in diverse professions and have achieved remarkable success, proving that they are not marginalized or oppressed as Obama suggests.

Indian Muslims have actively participated in politics and governance, holding influential positions in the government and representing the interests of their constituencies. In fact India has had two Muslim Presidents (President is the official Head of the State in the Republic of India) Dr Zakir Hussain and Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (Image: By Government of India – https://newsonair.gov.in/marathi/Marathi-Main-News.aspx?id=12684 http://abdulkalam.nic.in/profile.html (Government of India) https://www.flickr.com/photos/meaindia/20083381321/ (under Creative Commons, GODL-India applies as MEA is a Ministry of the Government), GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86383999)

Legendary cricketers like Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Zaheer Khan, and Mohammed Shami have made invaluable contributions to Indian cricket. Tennis player Sania Mirza, and badminton player Syed Modi are among the many Indian Muslim athletes who have brought glory to the nation.

Indian Muslims have demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen in various sectors. Billionaires from prominent business families like Azim Premji (Wipro) to successful entrepreneurs like Yusuf Ali (Lulu Group), they have created thriving enterprises, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the country’s economic growth.

Indian Muslims have also enriched the literary, arts and entertainment landscape of the country. Shah Rukh Khan, often referred to as the “King of Bollywood,” is one of the most prominent and influential actors in the Indian film industry. With his charismatic presence and versatile performances, Shah Rukh Khan has garnered a massive fan following not only in India but also across the globe. His journey from humble beginnings to becoming a global icon is a testament to his talent, hard work, and dedication. Shah Rukh Khan’s success story resonates with millions of aspiring actors, inspiring them to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles.

Shah Rukh Khan (Image: By Bollywood Hungama, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73834854)

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, often fondly remembered as the “People’s President,” was an eminent scientist and an inspirational figure in India. Known as the “Missile Man of India,” Dr. Kalam played a crucial role in the development of India’s missile and space programs. His contributions to India’s defense and space research were instrumental in shaping the nation’s scientific advancements.

Dr. Kalam’s dedication to education and his passion for inspiring young minds were remarkable. Even after his tenure as President, he continued to engage with students and impart knowledge through lectures and interactions. Dr. Kalam believed in the potential of India’s youth and encouraged them to pursue their dreams with determination and hard work.

His humility, simplicity, and commitment to the welfare of the nation earned him immense respect and admiration. Dr. Kalam’s vision for a developed and prosperous India, driven by scientific innovation and inclusive growth, continues to inspire generations.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (Image: By Bhaskar De – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41771227)

Both Dr. Kalam and Shah Rukh Khan serve as role models, representing different realms of achievement. While Shah Rukh Khan’s success in the entertainment industry has entertained and enthralled millions, Dr. Kalam’s scientific contributions and inspirational leadership have shaped India’s technological advancements and inspired generations to strive for excellence.

These examples represent just a fraction of the numerous accomplished Indian Muslims who have excelled in diverse fields. Their achievements underline the inclusive nature of Indian society, where individuals are recognized for their talent, skills, and contributions rather than their religious identity. Such successes are a testament to the opportunities and support available in India for individuals to pursue their aspirations and make a positive impact.

It is essential to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of Indian Muslims, as they contribute to the nation’s progress and foster a sense of unity and pride among all citizens. Their achievements exemplify the strength and diversity of India as a multicultural society.

Indian Muslims do not need a self-proclaimed savior like Barack Obama. They enjoy equal rights as Hindu citizens, actively participate in the democratic process, and contribute to society. While acknowledging the challenges faced by some, Indian Muslims are fully capable of addressing and resolving them without external interference.

An Indian nationalist would welcome constructive dialogue, but would also reject unsolicited advice that stems from ignorance and hypocrisy. We focus on addressing internal issues with the determination and resilience that have defined our nation throughout history, without the interference of those who fail to understand our diverse and dynamic society.

Contributing Author: Omer Ghazi is a proponent of religious reform and identifies himself as “an Indic Muslim exploring Vedic knowledge and cultural heritage through music”. He extensively writes on geo-politics, history and culture and his book “The Cosmic Dance” is a collection of his poems. When he is not writing columns, he enjoys playing drums and performing raps.

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