Indian mosques, including Taj Majal, targeted by Hindutva extremists
Mosques are under threat from pro-Modi Hindu extremism in India.
The rise of Hindutva extremism is threatening religious Muslim sites across India, including the Taj Mahal.
When Indian PM Narendra Modi took office, laws that systemically target Muslims and Muslim practices, such as the cultivation of Halal meats, have erected walls that are closing in on Muslim populations.
Extremists have taken to social media to express their support for such targeted and violent behavior, contending that the religious sites were built on top of Hindu temples, which they argue is India’s “true religion".
The Muslim mosque mostly in danger is the Gyanvapi Mosque, which is centuries old and located in Varanasi; one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities.
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Last week, a shiva linga, which is a phallic representation of the Hindu god, Shiva, was discovered at the site of the Gyanyapi mosque. Though the mosque authorities are saying it is a fountain, pro-Modi supporters are adamant it is a shiva linga. Upon the discovery, Muslims have been banned from performing ablutions in the water tank where the relic was found.
There are rising fears that the mosque will endure destruction the same way the Ayodhya Mosque was destroyed in 1992. The building, which was 450 years old, upon being demolished, sparked sectarian riots. Around 2,000 people died, mostly Muslim. Muslims in India account for 200 million of the population.
What happened back then was a pivotal moment for Hindu extremism, allowing for Modi’s election into the government in 2014. Hindutva to India is what Zionism is to “Israel". It is an ideology that seeks to establish a state controlled by none but Hindus – a form of ethnic absolutism.
This month, a court petition was filed by a member of the BJP, Modi’s party, to force the ASI – India’s archeological body, to open up 20 rooms inside the Taj Mahal, a world-famous mausoleum, arguing that they had Hindu idols. However, the ASI said there were no such idols.
The latest in Modi’s adventures of suppressing Muslims further is banning the hijab – particularly in educational institutions – which have set Muslim women to choose between their religion and education, two essential artifacts of any given identity. The ban on the hijab, which started with one school prohibiting hijabis from attending classes, caught onto other areas and regions, threatening hijabi Indians' mobility and daily activities nationwide.