Why are Muslim countries in the Gulf silent over anti-Muslim citizenship bill?
India’s parliament has passed a bill which offers clearance to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries. The bill provides citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Critics say the bill is part of a BJP Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agenda to marginalise Muslims.
Having observed endless curfew in Kashmir then the controversial anti-Muslim bill, entire Indian Muslim community is worried that its remaining hopes for living with autonomy and peace are now dashed.
The Indian government’s actions have subjected New Delhi to strong condemnation from human rights groups, such as Amnesty International (AI), which called on the UN Security to intervene and pressurise Indian Government defending the Muslim minority in India.
Many see a dark agenda in the equation. A professor of Kashmir University said: Indian officials “are actually hiding a dark Hindwata fantasy of destroying Indian Muslims, and reducing them to a minuscule minority so that they can always rule them and they will be enslaved.”
Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Bhatia says that by dividing alleged migrants into Muslims and non-Muslims, the bill “explicitly and blatantly seeks to enshrine religious discrimination into law, contrary to our long-standing, secular constitutional ethos” Critics say that if it is genuinely aimed at protecting minorities, the bill should have have included Muslim religious minorities.
First Indian government’s decisions to strip Kashmir of its autonomy, impose a communications blackout in the region, and wage a crackdown. Upon this, a prompt response from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan surfaced with a tweet declaring that a “fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology and leadership” governs India.” Similarly, over the current controversial anti-Muslim bill, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia and Iran recorded statements against the growing injustice going-on in India in way or another. Even the recent KL Summit discussed the current crises and the plight of Indian Muslims.
A weird response from Arab states
Some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member-states have essentially taken ‘pro-India’ stances on this escalating crisis in India. The major reason behind is that India has extremely deep historical, economic, and socio-cultural links. Just a couple of months back, Saudi Arabia’s oil giant, Saudi Aramco, announced its plans for a $15 billion investment in Reliance Industries, a Mumbai-based multinational conglomerate. This deal will have Saudi Aramco buying 20% of Reliance Industries’ oil business.
Riyadh never directly condemn India’s government for actions that have fueled anger among Indian Muslims and other Muslim countries and communities worldwide. Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar have refrained from issuing public states concerning the recent anti-Musilm bill.
On contrary, on August 18, when Kashmir was stripped of its autonomy, Narendra Modi’s travelled to the UAE during those days, Shiekhs granted him the “Order of Zayed”(the country’s highest civilian award). Beyond hosting Modi, the UAE’s ambassador to India, Ahmed al Banna, told the Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News that the situation in Kashmir is an internal matter.
Throughout the Arabian Peninsula, there are 7 million Indian expats who play major roles in the GCC states’ economic sectors from construction to transportation, medicine, education and many others departments and institutions. Like western world, the Arab Gulf states are of same thoughts, there is a general belief that India is a largely benign power and that its geopolitical ascendancy in the 21st century would serve their interests in a world that is growing increasingly multipolar.
A worrisome situation
Thus, although certain statements, as well as the lack of a response, from the GCC states are illustrative of the extent to which Arab Gulf states value their deep and multisided bonds with India, there is no doubt that GCC officials are concerned about the tensions in Kashmir.
Violence in the land that Pakistan and India (and China) have disputed for decades has potential to play out in the Arab Gulf sheikdoms given the diversity of many communities from West Asia and the subcontinent present in all GCC states.
On the other hand, the recent rallies by the South Asian expats in Bahrain that was in solidarity with India Musilm protestors exemplified how real links between the Indian Muslims and the Gulf can be a cause for grave concern from a security standpoint. With the Pakistani Prime Minister already stating that he would never talk to Indian officials after Kashimr’s worsening situation and thereafter there came controversial anti-Muslim citizenship bill bringing further hostility, not only the GCC states but also governments worldwide, are justifiably worried about the potential consequences of controversial citizenship billthat could play out in the Gulf.