Taliban takeover in Afghanistan triggers anti-Muslim hate in India

Hashtag #GoToAfghanistan began trending on Indian social media soon after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.

Hyderabad: The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan has given yet another excuse to India’s right-wing Hindu Nationalists to unleash a new wave of Islamophobia against its minority Muslim community.

Various media houses have found the correlation to recur over the last month since the Taliban usurped power in Afghanistan.

Al-Jazeera reported that Muslim politicians, writers, journalists, social media influencers, and everyday citizens have become targets of a massive hate campaign launched by the country’s right-wing, including members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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Earlier the hashtag #GoToAfghanistan began trending on Indian social media when the Taliban toppled the US-backed government last month, which media reports say is a repeat of the #GoToPakistan campaign launched by right-wing groups who wish to transform India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ or an ethnic Hindu state.

“The word Taliban or Talibani is deliberately being fed into the vocabulary of the masses on both sides of the spectrum – people who might for or against the BJP,” poet and activist Hussain Haidry told Al Jazeera. He further added that it is being done just the way Pakistani or ‘jihadi’ or ‘aatankwadi’ (terrorist) terms were used to reubke and humiliate Muslims in India.

Days after the Taliban took over Kabul, the BJP Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh remarked that he would “not tolerate the Talibani mentality” reacting to media reports claiming that few Muslims raised pro-Pakistan slogans during a Muharram procession. Two days after his comments, a fact-checking website, Alt News debunked initial media reports and said that they no such slogans were raised and the video was doctored.

In Assam, 15 Muslims, including Islamic scholars, a politician, and a local journalist were arrested and charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, for allegedly “supporting” the Taliban in social media posts.

On August 17, after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rehman Barq was booked for sedition over his remarks allegedly defending the Taliban. He was charged undersection 124A (Sedition) of the Indian Panel Code following a complaint from BJP leader Rajesh Singhal.

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