Kashmiri Muslims evicted, threatened after deadly attack on Indian forces

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An injured man that an angry mob had attacked, believing him to be a Kashmiri who had shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, is shielded by Indian policemen in New Delhi on February 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Indian policemen chase protestors during the second day of curfew in Jammu, India, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP)
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Indian protesters try to push their way through policemen guarding an injured man who had been attacked after a mob believed he was a Kashmiri who had shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, in New Delhi on February 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 February 2019

Kashmiri Muslims evicted, threatened after deadly attack on Indian forces

  • Kashmiri Muslims say they are facing a backlash in Hindu-majority India mainly in the northern states of Haryana and Uttarakhand

SRINAGAR: India has warned against rising communal tensions across the country as some Kashmiris living outside their state said they faced property evictions while others were attacked on social media after a suicide bomber killed 44 policemen in the region.
The car bomb attack on a security convoy on Thursday, claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and carried out by a 20-year-old Kashmiri man, was the worst in decades of insurgency in the disputed area, which is claimed in full by both the nuclear-armed neighbors.
As the bodies of the paramilitary policemen who died in the attack were returned to families across India this weekend, passionate crowds waving the Indian flag gathered in the streets to honor them and shouted demands for revenge. Pakistan has denied any role in the killings.
Kashmiri Muslims, meanwhile, say they are facing a backlash in Hindu-majority India, mainly in the northern states of Haryana and Uttarakhand, forcing the federal interior ministry to issue an advisory to all states.
“The ministry has taken a stringent view and has issued an advisory to all states and union territories to ensure safety and security of Kashmiris, and to maintain communal harmony,” A. Bharat Bhushan Babu, a spokesman for the ministry, told Reuters on Sunday.
Aqib Ahmad, a Kashmiri student in Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, said the owner of the house he was staying in had asked him to move out fearing an attack on his property. Two other students in Dehradun said they also had been asked to vacate their rooms.
“Where are we supposed to go?” Waseem Akram told Reuters.
The Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) state administration late on Sunday advised students from the state to reach out to liaison officers across six regions of the country in case of any problems. It said 104 students who were staying in private accommodation in the Haryana district of Ambala had been moved to hostels of a university guarded by police.
It said some Kashmiri students from Dehradun reached New Delhi on Saturday evening and had been accommodated in J&K’s guest house in the national capital.
“The state administration assures people of J&K that due cognizance is being taken for each and every call from the students and their parents, and local administration is being apprised of the developing situation,” its statement said.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said “no incident of beating or harassment of Kashmiri students has been reported anywhere in the state.”
“I’m making it clear that law-breakers, including rumor mongers, will not be spared either,” Rawat said in a tweet.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), to which all the dead officers belonged, said “fake news about harassment of students from Kashmir is being propagated by various miscreants on social media.”
“CRPF helpline has enquired about complaints about harassment and found them incorrect,” it said on Twitter.
J&K police said they were providing temporary accommodation to people returning from around the country.

“TRAITOR“
Fear has engulfed Kashmiri students in Ambala after a video on social media showed a village headman asking people to evict Kashmiri students in the area.
“In case it is not done, the person in whose residence such students are living will be considered as a traitor,” the man says in the video, whose authenticity Reuters has not been able to independently verify.
Police said they were investigating the matter.
The attack on India’s paramilitary police follows the deadliest year in Kashmir for security personnel since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power nearly five years ago.
Thousands of people, including militants and civilians, have died since the insurgency began in late 1980s.
Political leaders from Kashmir appealed to the government to ensure security of Kashmiris across India, while many people on Twitter said their homes were open to Kashmiris seeking shelter.
“Understand the pain and anguish,” Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of J&K, said in a tweet. “But we must not allow such mischievous elements to use this as an excuse to persecute/harass people from J&K. Why should they suffer for somebody else’s action?”


Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

Updated 15 December 2019

Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

  • MCB warning comes after Johnson’s landslide election result
  • UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons   

LONDON: There is a “palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities” in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has warned, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a crushing victory in the 2019 general election.
“We entered the election campaign period with longstanding concerns about bigotry in our politics and our governing party. Now we worry that Islamophobia is ‘oven-ready’ for government. Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons,” the MCB’s Secretary-General Harun Khan said. 
The warning came as accusations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party continue to plague it.
Despite concern that Islamophobia is “oven-ready” for government, a record number of Muslim MPs were elected on Thursday, with 19 winning seats in the general election; an increase of four from the last election in 2017.
Of these, 15 belong to the Labour Party and the other four, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, are Conservatives. 
As the UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons, this trend was also seen in the number of Muslim women, with 10 winning seats. 
Despite this, Muslims are still not proportionally represented in parliament.
Only 3 percent of the UK’s 650 MPs are Muslim, whilst the country’s Muslim population stands at around 5 percent.
The MCB’s concerns about bigotry and Islamophobia were echoed on Thursday by ex-party chairwoman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim cabinet member.
Warsi said the Conservative Party “must start healing its relationship with British Muslims,” and the fact that her colleagues in the party had retweeted comments from Islamophobes Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins was “deeply disturbing.” 
She added: “An independent inquiry into Islamophobia is a must — the battle to root out racism must now intensify.”
The Tory peer has repeatedly called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today program in November that the party had a “deep problem” with Islamophobia. 
“Remember, we’re now four years into these matters first being brought to the attention of the party … the fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party have been on the issue of Islamophobia.”

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP for Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi (L) attend a general election campaign event in Bolton, Britain December 10, 2019. (Reuters)


Later in November, Johnson apologized for the “hurt and offence” that had been caused by Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and said that an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” would begin by Christmas. 
Despite apologizing, he remained silent about his own comments on Muslim women wearing the niqab in his Daily Telegraph column in August 2018, when he wrote that Muslim women wearing it “look like letter boxes” or “bank robbers.”
Fourteen party members were suspended in March after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on social media, and a member who had previously been suspended in 2015 for comments on social media was due to stand in local elections this year. 
Peter Lamb was readmitted to the party after he had served a suspension and apologized for his comments.
Lamb, who has since quit the party, tweeted in 2015: “Islam (is) like alcoholism. The first step to recovery is admit you have a problem.”
Yasmin Qureshi, a female Muslim Labour MP, has held her Bolton South East seat since 2010 and was re-elected on Thursday for the fourth time.
Speaking to Arab News, Qureshi said many Muslims were “very fearful and very disappointed” at Johnson’s victory.
“Generally, you can say whatever you want about Muslims in this country now and nobody is really bothered, nobody challenges it, and if it is challenged, it is very mildly dealt with.
“Islamophobia is a big issue and although everybody rightly spoke about anti-semitism, there was not as much emphasis and talk about Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia is not just in the Conservative party, it is actually in the establishment. It is especially present in the media in this country; most of the newspapers of our country are very right-wing and anti-Muslim.
She added: “It doesn’t matter whether you malign Muslims, it’s essentially okay, you can get away with it. That is sadly a reflection of the current state of affairs in the UK.”