Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC)

IAMC, formerly known as Indian Muslim Council (IMC-USA), is another affiliate of FOIL.  IAMC considers itself to be the “largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States”[1]. The organization fights for the interests and concerns of Indian Muslims in the US and in India.  While IAMC stands for “pluralism, tolerance, and respect for human rights”[2] and to “provide increasing inter-faith and inter-community understanding in the United States, with particular focus on the Indian Diaspora”,[3] its activities routinely demonize Hindus and India by showing both as oppressors of Muslims, Christians and Dalits.  Furthermore, under the veil of inter-faith and inter-community discourse, IAMC invites individuals known for their biased views of Hinduism and India.  Hindus and India are automatically rendered guilty of crimes against Muslims, Christians and Dalits, while any terrorist attack in India needs to be ‘carefully analyzed’ before blaming Islamic terrorists.

Dr. Omar Khalidi was one of the co-founders and a former General Secretary of IAMC.[4]  Khalidi considered the Archaeological Survey of India, the official archaeology department of India, as “Handmaidens of Hindutva”[5] that manufactures dubious evidence in support of claims that numerous medieval monuments were built upon Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples.  Thus, when the ASI makes important discoveries and unearths fresh evidence that supports destruction of important Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sites by Muslim invaders and kings, Khalidi blames them for being biased against Muslims.

According to Khalidi, British Indian Muslims lack significant political unity “partly because many were marginalized at ‘home’, and partly due to the replication of ‘home’ identities based on regional culture and sectarian affiliation.”[6]  Thus, according to Khalidi, Indian Muslims are facing some sort of identity crisis and lack of political will in the UK due to their ‘repression’ back in India.  Identity and other problems are thus to be traced back to and blamed on ‘Hindu extremists’ running India.  Khalidi urged British Indian Muslims to overcome this and unite for a greater political clout.  Alas, Khalidi and others will quickly censure Hindus of some sort of ‘right-wing conspiracy’ if they organize successfully in India, UK or the US.

In 2009, Khalidi wrote an article in Outlook India magazine called Why India Is Not A Secular State.  The article laid out highly selective examples to conclude how the Indian state “actually privileges Hinduism over other religions and religious communities.”[7]  Khalidi calls the Indian Constitution as a “concern of the Brahmin establishment”[8] and thinks that “[the] motive of the constitution writers was obvious: to prevent the conversion of Dalits to Christianity or Islam, to ‘reform’ Hinduism to make it palatable to the former untouchables”.[9]  He then goes on and writes how “Christian missions and churches have been under attack since decades”[10] and how “[hundreds] of mosques are in illegal possession nationwide including in New Delhi, where scores are occupied by the central government.”[11]  Similarly, he selectively describes discrimination against Muslims in employment, army as well as in the general cultural atmosphere.  According to Khalidi, “[the] ban on cow slaughter deprived thousands of butchers their livelihood even as it stole millions of poor their only source of inexpensive protein. Cow may be sacred to the upper castes, but not so to the Christians, Dalits, and Muslims.”[12]  Will Khalidi say the same thing if pork is banned by countries in the Middle East?  In fact, importation or consumption of pork is severally restricted in Islamic countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc. because it is forbidden in Islam.

Mohib Ahmad, founder of Indian Muslims Blog, offers a rebuttal to Khalidi’s article in Outlook.  Ahmad states that Khalidi “selectively picks and chooses dots to create an ugly picture and then presents it as reality. It is as if Dr. Khalidi has come up with a checklist of carefully drawn items that he keeps checking till he reaches the conclusion that India is not secular.”[13]  Ahmad cites that “Dr. Khalidi quotes Hindu Marriage Act (1955) to buttress his claim for legislative preference shown to Hinduism…. In reality, some of the biggest critics of the Act were conservative Hindus, including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), leaders.  If the Act was just an attempt to co-opt Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists into the fold of Hinduism, as Dr Khalidi suggests, wouldn’t Hindu leaders have welcomed it with open arms?”[14]

On the issue of cultural and racial discrimination argued by Khalidi, Ahmad shares the following thoughts:

Indian Muslims, by any stretch of imagination, are not in the same discriminatory situation as blacks were in USA. The community would do well not to pay heed to Dr. Khalidi who, instead of encouraging them to strive for their rights, if and when denied, within a democratic set-up, is curiously bent on proving that they don’t have a chance anyway. Dr. Khalidi’s essay is an affront to all those Indians who are fighting for the rights of fellow Indians — including those Indians who suffered in Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002 — every day to make India a better country. It is an insult to millions and millions of Muslims — like my grandfather — who chose to stay in India because they believed in the idea of India.[15]

Khalidi also conveniently ignores the fact that Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, an ‘untouchable’ and one of the most important personalities who fought against discrimination and untouchability in Indian society, was one of the founding fathers of India and a drafter of the Indian Constitution.  However, Khalidi’s agenda is clear in that he is merely interested in a pejorative view of India and Hinduism.

Biased Stances of IAMC

IAMC is organizing a multi-city tour of Harsh Dobhal of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), discussed in Chapter IV, Part b for various lectures and discussions on Muslims and the Criminal Justice System in India.  Dobhal’s Maoist/Communist connections as well as Christian donors were already brought to light in Chapter IV.  Dobhal’s HRLN is also well known for its lopsided approach to highlight the ‘evil acts’ of Hindus and the Indian government against minorities.  In fact, the event announcement on the IAMC website poses the following questions: “Whether [overrepresentation of Muslims in Indian jails] is the result of profiling by law enforcement or the lack of legal representation for Muslims? Or is it a reflection on societal problems in dealing with class and religion?”[16]  Hence, the event has a prejudiced agenda from the beginning –  overrepresentation of Muslims in Indian jails is either due to discrimination by law enforcement due to lack of legal representation or due to some discrimination based on class/religion by the ‘upper caste right-wing rulers of India’.  It cannot be due to other factors.  For example, as Omair Ahmad, a Muslim author and activist points out, one reason for more Muslims in jails is that the Muslim population of India is concentrated in four states – “Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, which account for 21% of convicted prisoners and 42% of undertrials (sic) in India jails”.[17]  Thus, the Muslim population is concentrated in the states where more people go to jail in general.  Ahmad also remarks that “proportionately more Muslims are adjudged ‘innocent’ than Hindus (whose undertrial (sic) to convict ratio is: 69.6% to 70.7% and even Christians (whose undertrial (sic) to convict ratio is 3.8% to 4.2%).”[18]  However, given the biased background of Dobhal, it won’t be surprising if such facts are never discussed.

On July 13, 2011, IAMC issued a Press Release regarding the bomb blasts in Mumbai.  While it condemned the bomb blasts, it also called upon everyone to “refrain from a rush to judgement (sic) until the results of the investigation are known. Several bomb blasts in recent years, led to innocent youth from a specific community being thrown into prison, and still struggling to secure justice, even after the real masterminds confessed.”[19]  This is a fair statement as no one should prejudge crimes upon a particular community.  However, IAMC is not so lenient when it comes to blaming the Hindus.  On June 30, 2011, IAMC issued a Press Release condemning the ‘intimidation’ of ANHAD, the NGO started by Shabnam Hashmi and whose trustees include Harsh Mander and KM Pannikar.  IAMC blindly pronounces the other side (i.e. the government officials of the state of Gujarat) guilty of harassment and calls it “a characteristic of totalitarian regimes in other parts of the world.”[20]  It also goes on to mention that such “intimidation is unfortunately part of an alarming trend of harrassment (sic) of human rights defenders such as Teesta Setalvad, Binayak Sen and Fr. Cedric Prakash”.[21]  The report has already highlighted Teesta Setalvad’s falsities and unlawful tactics.  Father Cedric Prakash is a Jesuit priest operating as a human rights activist in Gujarat.  Prakash is a popular face within various circles that routinely hold India guilty of ‘oppression of Christians, Muslims and Dalits’.  Prakash is also known for exaggerating facts to fit his agenda.  For example, in August 2010, Prakash submitted a written testimonial to the controversial US Commission on International Religious Freedom.  In this statement, he intentionally lied that “more than 2000 Muslims have been killed”[22] in the riots of Gujarat.  Official government records and even reports by independent bodies show that the number was between 1000 and 2000 people, and not all were Muslims.  Prakash, who claims to “champion human rights and freedom of all religions”,[23] ignores the fact that the number included over 200 Hindus; also, some 59 Hindus, including women and children, were burnt to death in Godhra, and this incident sparked the riots in Gujarat.  While it is sad that may Muslims were killed in the 2002, why do Prakash, Setalvad, Hashmi and other ‘human rights activists’ ignore the plights of Hindus, including women and children?  Are little children considered ‘fascist Hindus’ and therefore dispensable? Further still, why are they reporting blatantly false information?

In April 2006, IAMC created a ‘Special Digest’ on the corruption within the BJP Government, titled “Corruption, Scams and Scandals of the BJP Government”.[24]  The Digest contains a litany of articles, opinions, etc. of the various corruption issues during the BJP Government’s reign in India.  As expected, the coverage has a clear political tilt.  Moreover, some of the major articles are written by none other than Vijay Prashad and Biju Mathew of FOIL (“Hindutva For a Few Dollars a Day”)[25] and Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of Indian (Marxist) (“BJP’s Corrupt Face Once Again Bared, Corruption Charges Against BJP Govt The Day of Reckoning is Not Far Away”)[26]

The BJP lost the national elections against the Congress in 2006.  The Congress Government has been in power in India since the last five years.  Unfortunately, the IAMC, who considers itself a defender of India’s freedom, democracy and pluralism, has never come up with such a ‘Digest’ or any special coverage of the massive corruptions, human rights violations or other issues under the Congress government.  Consider the 2G spectrum scandal of 2010, one of the largest scandals in India’s history: “[Comptroller and Auditor General of India], the state auditor estimated India may have lost up to $39 billion in revenue — equivalent to the defence (sic) budget — due to violations during the allocation process”.[27]  What about the Common Wealth Games scandal, which was a major embarrassment for India on the world scene?  What about the Adarsh Housing Society scam, which led to the resignation of the Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan?  What about the Oil For Food Program scandal involving Congress minister Natwar Singh?  What about the Bofors Scandal involving major big wigs of the Congress Government such as Rajiv Gandhi?  On November 19, 1991, Schweizer Illustrierte, one of the most popular Swiss magazines declared, after an investigation, that according to Russian spy agenda KGB’s records “Sonia Gandhi the widow of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was controlling secret account with 2.5 billion Swiss Francs (equal to $2.2 billion) in her minor son’s name”.[28]  Similarly, the KGB records also indicated that “the Gandhi family has accepted political pay-offs from the KGB — a clear case of treason besides bribe”.[29]  The Congress Government has also had more indictments of the highest cabinet officials than any other government in the history of India, including the BJP.

IAMC’s silence regarding the Congress Government indicates that it is politically biased and not a patriotic Indian organization.  Could it be that, since the Congress Government is generally sympathetic to Muslims and Christians, any of its wrongdoings, no matter how big, can be ignored at the expense of poor people in India?  Does the IAMC not care that when billions of Indian rupees are robbed away from India, poor people (both Muslims and Hindus) bear the biggest brunt?  Or, does the IAMC not care about poor Muslims?

In yet another example of clear bias, on June 16, 2011, IAMC issued a press release condemning the killings of villagers in Forbesganj in the Indian State of Bihar.  IAMC’s ‘cautionary statement’ as seen in the July 13th press release regarding the Mumbai blasts, is absent in this press release.  Instead, IAMC immediately blames this incident on the “propaganda against the region launched by the BJP and ABVP”[30] and decides not the wait for any judicial inquiry to determine whether this was a clear case of communal tensions or corporate greed.


[1] http://iamc.com/about/, accessed July 20, 2011

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.[1]

[4] See reference to Khalidi in the IAMC press release entitled “IAMC New Jersey 2011 Republic Day Event”,  January 30, 2011,  http://iamc.com/chapters/new-jersey/2011-republic-day-event/, accessed July 20, 2011

[5] Omar Khalidi, “ASI is the handmaiden of Hindutva”, October 1, 2010, http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/oct/01/column-asi-is-the-handmaiden-of-hindutva-writes-omar-khalidi.htm, accessed July 20, 2011

[6] Omar Khalidi, “Crescent obscured: Indian Muslims in Britain”, September 8, 2010, http://twocircles.net/2010sep08/crescent_obscured_indian_muslims_britain.html, accessed July 20, 2011

[7] Omar Khalidi, “Why India Is Not A Secular State”, Outlook India, online edition, January 29, 2009,  http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?239584, accessed July 20, 2011

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.[7]

[10] Ibid.[7]

[11] Ibid.[7]

[12] Ibid.[7]

[13] Mohib Ahmad, “India, Secularism, Whatever”, Outlook India, online edition, February 6, 2009,  http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?239647, accessed July 20, 2011

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.[13]

[16] See event announcement titled “Harsh Dobhal Lecture on ‘Muslims and the Criminal Justice System in India’.”  July 20, 2011.  http://iamc.com/, accessed July 21, 2011

[17] Omair Ahmad, “Counter View: A Few Myths, Fewer Facts about Muslims”, August 16, 2007, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/a-rejoinder-a-few-myths-fewer-facts-about-muslims/46945-3.html?xml, accessed July 21, 2011

[18] Ibid.

[19] “IAMC Condemns Bomb Blasts in Mumbai”, July 13, 2011, http://iamc.com/category/press-release/, accessed July 21, 2011

[20] “IAMC Condemns Intimidation of Human Rights Organization ANHAD”, June 30, 2011, http://iamc.com/category/press-release/, accessed July 20, 2011

[21] Ibid.

[22] “Recent Communal Violence in Gujarat, India, and the U.S. Response: FR. CEDRIC PRAKASH, SJ Prepared Testimony”, http://www.uscirf.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1802, accessed July 21, 2011

[23] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.[24]

[27] C.J. Kuncheria and Devidutta Tripath, “What is the 2G scandal all about?”, April 25, 2011,  http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/04/25/idINIndia-56552020110425,  accessed July 25, 2011

[28] S. Gurumurthy, “Zero tolerance, secret billions”, http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/columnists/zero-tolerance-secret-billions/236261.html, January 3, 2011, accessed July 25, 2011

[29] Ibid.

[30] “IAMC Condemns Massacre of Innocent Villagers in Forbesganj, Bihar”, June 16, 2011, http://iamc.com/news-digest/iamc-weekly-news-roundup-june-20th-2011/, accessed July 25, 2011

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s