ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s human rights body on Sunday expressed deep concern over what it called the “growing tide of Islamophobia in India,” and in a series of tweets, called for an end to the ‘persecution of Muslims’ in the country amid the coronavirus outbreak.
After a cluster of COVID-19 cases emerged at a gathering of Muslim missionaries in New Delhi last month, the disease has inflamed already festering divisions between the country’s Hindus and its 200 million strong Muslim minority. Violent attacks on Muslims have been reported around the country amid sensational news coverage of the missionary event, and with some Hindu nationalist politicians encouraging the trending topic “Coronajihad” on social media.
“OIC-IPHRC urges the Indian Govt to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of Islamophobia in India and protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim minority as per its obligations under intl HR law,” the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission said on its official Twitter page.
In a separate tweet, the rights body said it condemned campaigns blaming Muslims for the spread of COVID-19 in India as well as their negative profiling in the media which led to persecution.
The latest spate of violence comes after months of protests against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.
On Sunday, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson said in a meeting with reporters that New Delhi should focus on its domestic matters regarding minority rights.
The comment came in response to India’s criticism over the falling of two domes of a major Sikh temple in the town of Kartarpur in a storm on Friday.
The temple which marks the site where the founder of Sikhism died, was renovated and opened in the Pakistani town last year with a special visa-free border crossing for Indian pilgrims. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had hailed the corridor as a mark of his country’s commitment to peace in the region.
On Saturday, the Indian government conveyed to Pakistan that the damage to the temple had caused “great consternation” among the Sikh community, according to Indian media.
Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said it was best for India to focus on its own minority issues, in a veiled reference to growing concerns about the treatment and widespread persecution of Indian Muslims.
“Pakistan knows how to protect its minorities, their sites and has greater regard for the minorities of the country,” Farooqui said while speaking to reporters on Sunday.