It is no coincidence that a wave of schools in Karnataka suddenly began banning students from wearing hijab at the exact same time that the state government was passing a so-called “anti-conversion” law to criminalize freedom of religion.
About the hijab ban, we might well ask: what’s next?
Will beards be banned? Will the Sikh dastar be done away with? Will Jews be allowed to wear kippah? Can a Christian carry the cross?
To know where this is all going, we only have to look at where we’ve already come from.
Banning the hijab is just one more step on India’s long, torturous, and already far, far, far progressed march on the road towards fascism.
In the past eight years of the Modi regime, we’ve already seen:
- Masses of laws telling you what you can’t eat.
- Masses of laws telling you who you can and cannot love.
- Masses of laws telling you which religion you’re allowed to follow.
- A law making religion the basis for even acquiring citizenship.
- A law compelling you to prove you are a citizen.
The hijab is banned today, but for years we have seen a wave of lynchings by the extremist groups associated with the ruling party.
Yes, we’ve seen countless occasions where Muslims were lynched by Hindu nationalist radicals — and then the killers were honored by top leaders in the ruling party!
We’ve seen too many incidents to remember — from the most rural backwaters of India to the metropolis of Delhi, the capital of the country itself — where Muslims are intimidated, harassed, humiliated, beaten, and tortured simply because they are Muslims who dare to walk the streets of India.
And it’s been a more quietly simmering persecution for the past eight years, but it has slowly ratcheted up, and up, and up to the point that Indian Christians too are beginning to fall under the trishul.
Persecution of Christians in India last year sky-rocketed so much that Indian Christians themselves described it as a “year of fear” and the “most violent” year they have experienced. Screaming mobs of hundreds invade church services, smash the church, drag the congregation out, brutalize them, and hand them over to the police who — guess what — almost always file charges against the victims instead of their persecutors. Why? Because, under the Modi regime, it’s becoming a crime simply to be a Christian in India.
But it’s not just Christians and Muslims! The Sikhs, too, are facing the fury of a hate-filled Hindu nationalist movement that is backed by the absolute power of the State.
And anyone in India (unlike here), religious or not, who has the guts to call this out risks getting thrown behind bars.
Uniformity and conformity is the name of the game in India today. The Modi regime and its lackeys want to dictate to every citizen of India what they can wear, what they must believe, what they can and cannot say, who they can love, how they must live, how they must think, and on, and on, and on.
If this looks like fascism, if this sounds like fascism, maybe that’s because it is fascism.
None of this is any surprise to anyone who has paid the slightest attention to who Modi is or what the RSS is.
Who is Modi?
A lifelong member of the RSS paramilitary who rose to prominence and popularity because he presided over a pogrom against Muslims 20 years ago this very month.
What is the RSS?
The world’s oldest, largest, and fastest growing fascist movement whose founders openly — openly — admired Mussolini and Hitler and explicitly called for eradication of Muslims and Christians from India. Oh, and the RSS had already acted on that genocidal call by perpetrating perhaps a dozen large-scale pogroms against Indian Muslims and Christians since 1947.
Well, with Modi and the RSS holding the reins of power in India since 2014, intense and ever increasing persecution of religious minorities is only to be expected.
After all, we already saw Modi do it before he became Prime Minister of the whole country! And the RSS already told us, decades ago, that that was their goal and showed us that they were willing to put hate into action.
No, no, the only surprise here is that the rest of the world is turning a blind eye to the risen — and I say, the rise — fascism of Modi’s India. The only surprise here is that no one in the US government noticed as Modi’s regime passed one marker of fascism, after another, after another. The only surprise here is that Americans haven’t woken up to the reality that a fascist India poses a global risk.
Will we wait until this turns into an actual genocide — something that the dominant and domineering Hindu nationalist movement of India has told us, in so many words, repeatedly, over just the past three months, they wantto perpetrate?
Or will we wake up and smell the fascism before it’s too late?
Pieter Friedrich is a freelance journalist specializing in the analysis of South Asian affairs. He is the author of “Saffron Fascists: India’s Hindu Nationalist Rulers” and co-author of “Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.” He tweets at @FriedrichPieter