Women protesters listen to the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors at Shaheen Bagh on 19 February 2020 | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Representational image | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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On the day Delhi riots broke out, I took a cab home after work. As I sat in the car and Ola’s IVR system welcomed me with my full name, I flinched, while the driver turned around to take a look at me. I immediately cut my name short on the cab aggregator’s application to make sure my religious identity never comes up like that again because I didn’t want trouble. I have also stopped using my last name ‘Islam’ on social media and other public platforms for the last couple of years to avoid being identified instantly.

In another instance, I almost felt choked when I accidentally uttered ‘Ya Allah’ after sneezing in a restaurant. For the rest of the time, I avoided making eye contact with everyone, including the waiters.

The fear of catching coronavirus may have made many Indians practice social distancing of late, I have been distancing from my own identity — my Muslim identity — for quite some time now.


Also read: ‘Wore saree to look Hindu’ — How women in riot-hit Northeast Delhi escaped the mob


Muslimness not allowed

Over the years, I have developed ways to veil my religious identity, making extra efforts — both consciously and subconsciously — to not sound, look or act Muslim. But the last six years have been tough because of the rampant and aggressively open Islamophobia.

At a rally against ‘jihadi’ violence organised by Hindu extremists and led by BJP leader Kapil Mishra after the Delhi riots last month, a middle-aged man told me that the problem lies with the word ‘secular’ in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. The protest rally had speakers talking about ‘jihadi hate’ of Indian Muslims and how they must be stopped.

As a Muslim, I have heard words like ‘jihad’, ‘love jihad’ and ‘kaafir’ only in public spaces filled with anti-Muslim hate and bigotry. It shows how Islamophobia has engulfed India — to the point where any form of ‘Muslimness’ is vehemently disallowed, resulting in a forced exclusion and expulsion of the Muslim identity.


Also read: Foolish to think Hindus who voted Modi twice will shift due to threat to Muslim citizenship


Islamophobia made me repel being a Muslim

Ye to bolegi he (of course she would speak like that), Taskin is in the task of shaming India,” a classmate of mine wrote on Facebook in a discussion over the Narendra Modi government’s policies, which I had criticised. The audacity with which he dragged my name, hitting at my religious identity over a policy debate, made me nervous.

Most people I meet tell me after knowing my full name, ‘Oh, you don’t look Muslim’. While it’s not only sickening to hear but also extremely belittling — every time — the realisation that I am not easily identifiable as a Muslim does sometime bring a sigh of relief.

Aap muslamaan ho? Hum non-veg nahi allow karte (you are a Muslim? We don’t allow non-vegetarian food),” a landlord had once told me ‘indirectly’ before the broker revealed to me that he doesn’t want to rent the house to Muslims. In August 2019, when Article 370 was diluted, I had to shift to another house. During my search, many brokers simply refused, saying, “Ma’am aapke liye abhi ghar milna mushkil hai (it will be difficult to find a home for you right now).” On several occasions, domestic staff have refused to work in my home even as they came to nearby houses, letting me know that they do not want to wash the dishes of ‘a Muslim’.

Islamophobia impacts the everyday lives of Muslims, whether you realise it or not. For instance, after the Zomato incident with a Muslim delivery person, I have become particularly conscious not to order ‘beef’ or ‘buff’ dishes from food aggregators for fear of being identified and targeted. I fear that a Hindu delivery man would come with the food and complain to the majority Hindus in my neighbourhood.

I also now avoid Muslim spaces, the company of ‘overt’ Muslims, and try not to hang out with too many Muslim friends in a group. I pay special attention not to rub my hand over my head when I hear the Azaan or not to say ‘Allah Hafiz’ when I meet someone elderly — all just to either hide my Muslim identity or, in case where it’s known, prevent coming across as ‘too Muslim’.

Sadly, it is only the fear psychosis and the continuous struggle to fit among the majority, to not have my religious identity called out directly or indirectly, that has forced me to repel being a Muslim and not the flaws in Islam.


Also read: ‘Shakal se Hindu nahin dikhti’ — but a quick-thinking colleague saved me from a mob


Not just my story 

In a conversation with some friends during the Delhi riots, we discussed what would happen if Hindu extremist goons came to attack Muslims in our locality and what would I tell them if they barge through my door asking for my name.

This reality check made me go numb because I know the ill-fate of Indian Muslims, especially with bigoted laws like the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens exercise. Especially with the never-ending anti-Muslim hatred that the ruling BJP has been continuously propagating, with Prime Minister Modi himself passing remarks like “those involved in arson can be identified by their clothes” and Home Minister Amit Shah calling Muslims from neighbouring countries “termites”.

My liberal friends argue that there isn’t anything to be so conscious or afraid of. They don’t see, or perhaps choose not to see, that it’s only Muslims who can truly understand the pain of being a Muslim in present-day India.

The liberals must know that no matter how much they try to sell the idea of a pluralistic society, the fact remains that Indian Muslims will always have to hide their ‘Muslimness’ and be the minority who live at the mercy of the majority.

Muslims and Hindus are not equals in India, and never will be. It is just an interesting idea in discussions and debates for liberals of the Hindu majority to conveniently overlook the increasing communal divide.

Views are personal.

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58 Comments Share Your Views

58 COMMENTS

  1. Another idiot playing the victim card and trying to put the blame on the whole society , do people like these ever accept the mistakes of the extremists in their community and when people blame that small group every one will be backing those with extreme ideologies and come up with a new story every time. No one ever says all of the minorities are extremists but unless the normal people point out the black sheep and try to educate them rather than blindly supporting them this divide is going to get far worse and a day comes when the victim card you play will be slapped back right at your face and at the pace it is proceeding I expect it to be not very far. Better than posting these idiotic stories portraying the whole society in bad light try to educate the black sheep in your community . When some one is pointing at the wrong doing of a person that is pointed only towards that person not the whole community, it’s better if these people understand that. When you start backing black sheep you will eventually turn up the same.

  2. She is a big liar. Indian muslims enjoy more benefits than Hindus. Thanks to so called “secular politicians”. They get reservation & enjoy utmost freedom than hindu in India. They burst cracker when India is not successful in achieving any target & playing victim card is favourite. They don’t allow government officials to enter their localities, forget about hindu renting their space. All illegal activities against India is done in their localities, so that indian economy never rise. The main problem they have with BJP & modi is that they cannot openly support Pakistan & rise their flags & say they will kill Hindus & turn India into Islamic state. Where as so called secular politicians of Congress allow them to give hate speech towards hindu & India freely, saying they have freedom of speech. They associate hindu gods & goddesses with dirty words openly. After all these they say we are victims in India. All terrorists act all Indian muslims involved in a way or other. But not all indian muslims are same like you. I have frens & they are among good people I have relations with. They never have to hide their identity & they pay tax on time without a problem. Indian muslims I know, hardly have problems. Instead they feel pity for Hindus being discriminated by Congress gov. Previously. But Bangladeshi muslims have problems. They don’t get freedom to supply counterfeit notes in indian market, nor they get easy access to take cows out of India.

  3. Bismee, You have called CAA bigoted. The CAA simply says that those migrants who face religious discrimination in their home country do not have to prove individualized discrimination. By implication if a Muslim want asylum he has to document discrimination against him. Why is this bigoted. By comparison if a religion says kill people not belonging to that religion, why is that not bigoted.

    • You don’t know the CAA law – it specifically mentions the religions which are entitled to Indian citizenship – hence this law is bigoted.

  4. Such a bigot these kind of people create fear and divide policy on basis of religion and claims to be victim. I feel pity for them if this is actually you dont see A president Supreme court Judges lots of MLA and MPs High ranking civilian and defence personnel to be muslim. But You choose identity of victim just because BJP govt. I hope even this level discussion happened in So called free islamic states by any religion they will be stoned till now.

  5. The author cannot pretends to be a victim of discrimination but she support a discriminating religion.
    Mohammad had a first wife who was an independent businesswoman. His last wife was a little girl. That’s what Islam brought to women.
    I prefer to have many godesses or female saints than an authoritarian monotheism in which the male members of a so-called religion are above everybody else just because “the only and truthful God wants it and cannot be wrong”.
    If you feel discriminated, stop talking nonsense and start fighting for egalitarian families with no more than two children.

  6. The author cannot pretends to be a victim of discrimination but she support a discriminating religion.
    Mohammad had a first wife who was an independent businesswoman. His last wife was a little girl. That’s what Islam brought to women.
    I prefer to have many godesses or female saints than an authoritarian monotheism in which the male members of a so-called religion are above everybody else just because “the only and truthful God wants it and cannot be wrong”.
    If you feel discriminated, stop talking nonsense and start fighting for egalitarian families with no more than two children.

  7. So what I have been rubbing off my tilak before going to office in New Delhi. I am sure i would be made fun of by fellow Hindus. But I am not touchy like you and feel it is good thing as overly religious sysmbolism in secular spaces like offices, malls is against secularism. Also i have never been to my office in a dhoti infact it may have been banned..as per rules but not the skull cap or free flowing unkept beard.

  8. You are going good. I wish every Indian hide her religious identity like you do, then our country would be much better!!!

  9. It is unfortunate that Indian minorities specially Muslim community are feeling threatened………god bless us all to face these times…………

  10. When will you stop behaving suppressed and playing this minority card. When will you start talking about treatment of women in your religion? Narratives are made because of deeds, for people to see you different, you have to bring the change. When will muslim women ask for equality at worship place?

    When you stop common law for a country in the name of religion then people will see you from the lense of religion. Get this and stop playing this minority card.

  11. Hindus are insecure because they have been ruled by Muslims for centuries. Because vedic religions and indo-European languages are almost as foreign as other religions. A horde of mostly men from central brought vedic cultures in Indian subcontinent only around 3500 years ago. Todays north Indian muslims and upper caste hindus come from same place , central Asia and show similarly aggressive, rapist and regressive mindset. True Indians like south indians already converted to a foreign religion from central Asia. Whats the problem with converting to another religion from central Asians like Afghans or Kazakhs!

  12. Such a false article or Takia, is typical of false muslims.
    We have many muslim heroes in our country and no body despise them for them being muslims.
    If your heroes are Owaisi brothers and Waris Pathans, then, blame your self.

  13. Need to hide your identity, but Why?
    Do some introspection, serious introspection.

    No body hates muslims per se, but have you not heard the speeches of many muslim leaders, so much hateful ones.
    If you could stand against those speeches and writing this in your article, that would have carried some weight to your lamentation.
    Otherwise, this writing of yours is again an attempt to denigrate India in general and NDA in particular.
    BTW, NE Delhi riots were started by Muslims under the cover of anti CAA protest.

  14. Especially for your identity and your religion, on the demand of your community, part of our country was carved out and given to your community, called Pakistan and Bangladesh. But still you all didn’t move and stayed behind. So please better stop playing the victim card. If you chose to stay here better try to integrate here and not parade around as a wannabe Arab. Better give up this concept of ummah and try to be Indian first and then Muslim or whatever. The majority of the Indians don’t owe the Muslims anything. If you’re still so much uncomfortable here feel free to move to the Islamic countries next door, which was created specially for the needs of your community.

  15. How do you all treat people when in majority huh? You all have 50 plus Muslim countries go and live there happily ever after… But wait please tell your fellow muslims to stop killing Hindus every were and stop all the terrorists attacks hope ask them to stop all this as you know most of us Indians have enough of you all…you can all go out of India for all I care …dint like modi but at least he did good with citizenship act…

  16. Aww so sad…so scared, so insecure blah blah blah you Muslims have above 50 countries go there and live happily oh but you all can’t because you will start to fight and bomb your fellow muslims just what you’ll like…

  17. To be honest, your Muslim identity is the problem.

    There is no indianness about it. And you are responsible for it.

    Indic religions though different have similar philosophies which then translates to similar culture, practices, traditions.

    Muslims though look Indian have Arabic identity, culture and follow philosophy which literally is threat to secular India.

    Secondly from 1947 to 2020 what contribution did Muslim society did which would make it exemplary.

    Jain’s, Parsis, Sikh in public space are known for entrepreneurship, and exemplified as a suuceess stories. These are the actual minorities who’s religion, way of life, philosophy is engrained in soil so much that you don’t differentiate.

    You cry,protest,burn whole India for Muslims of other nation but remain silent when Kashmiri Hindus were massacred but burnt the azad maidan and ransacked the soldiers jyoti for rohingyas.

    You don’t protest when rohingyas are given citizenship of J&K while rest of the Indians are excluded.

    I am sorry, there is no indianness about it. It’s just foreign to India as is your perpetual victim hood.

    • Stop looking at people through the colour of religion.We are all human first.A Muslim is as much an Indian as anybody else,Probably they are more Indian than others, because many of them had a choice in1947, and they chose to be Indian and not Pakistani.Most of us are born into a country and a religion by accident, not by choice.
      You ask for the contribution of Muslims to Indian society-Have you heard the names of Mohamed Raft, Dilip Kumar, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Abdul Kalam, Zakir Hussain, Ustad Bismillah Khan, AR Rahman among others.
      Instead of parroting the hatred and division being spouted by politicians to divide us for their own selfish ends, wake up and use the few grey cells that you may have and start thinking for yourself.
      JaiHind.

      • How can anyone stop looking someone through the color of religion when that religion puts its identity as religion first and not nationality first? We see what you show us. When India wants to see muslims as Indians and have common law for equality then they bring up their religion. So please tell me how we can not see them through the color they show to us?

      • Statement of fact:

        Muslims voted 95 percent to muslim league to have Pakistan created.

        Muslims then decided to stay back plus then Pakistan government asked to stop migration of Indian Muslims from Bihar/up to Pakistan in 1951.

        Hyderabad Muslims raised razakar in 1947 to fight against Indian army under AIMM to be with Pakistan.

        So no Muslim did not choose to stay back.

        First they cut the India then fought against it, then when they can’t go to Pakistan they had no option but to stay here and destroy the indianness And secularism through jihad, Wahhabism, Arab culture and radical Islamization

  18. Ooh, how sad. Boo Hoo Hoo. Cry me a river. Anyway good attempt at psychotherapy for imaginary fears. I am sure this has helped but maybe time to lie down on a shrink’s couch. Sadly that’s more expensive considering that ‘ The Print’ may not really be paying you for this rant.

  19. Bismee, it you and your community people are so much Indians and feel that India is your country, then why did you mentioned CAA and NRC, why so many people of your community is sitting at Saheenbaug for all these days protesting against the law? Why its only Hindus who are targeted during the violence and why in every violence name of person from Muslim community emerge as instigator. Don’t try to get sympathy by writing such articles. Everyone know who all started Delhi riots and why was it started. So writing against Hindu and Indian law is just not done.

    • @Bismee Taskin
      If India is so horrible, why do you stay?
      You have Pakistan and Bangladesh plus 50 other Muslim countries so why do you stay?
      The Print needs to start publishing articles on the way Hindus are treated in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

  20. Bismee, what you and so many people are going through is shameful for this country. We as a majority community need to do a lot to improve this situation. I’m hopeful that things will change over time. Trust me, most us don’t have the kind of hatred you see from Hindus. We need to start becoming vocal in opposing hate filled voices. Let’s stand together.
    Your last few lines seemed like you are giving up on India. Please don’t. It’s your country too and unless all the sane voices continue to fight things will not change.

  21. The article is full of self-pity and thinly veiled bigotry. Why blame other Indians for her guilty conscience? If only the Muslim community of India had outspokenly distanced itself from the early days of Kashmiri Separatism, Shah Bano judgment reversal, there would have been no reason for someone like this writer to be looked at with suspicion. The reluctance of the Indian Muslims to openly condemn Islam inspired terrorism, and distance themselves from such extremists within their community now works against innocents. Regrettably, often educated muslims are seen identifying themselves with causes which are perceived as inimical, or embarrassing to India.

  22. The famous psychologist Dr. Ofer Zur of California based Zur Institute has described in his paper Psychology of the victim hood “The victim stance is a powerful one. The victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable and forever entitled to sympathy.”

    This article is a classic example. When this business will stop ?

  23. Sad. A recent column by former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, in IE reminds us that India will not be able to overcome its development challenges if the country gets divided along religious lines, a large minority is reduced to the status of second class citizens. Some blunt, plain advice, which gives us an indication how foreign governments must be conveying their views in private.

  24. Yes I’m Islamophobic until islam is reformed and made secular. When u disrespect our gods by saying ‘La illah illallah’ , calling us ‘Kafir’ and burning in hell for only being non muslim. You dont need to lie …..history is evidence what islam has done to us. collecting tax from non muslims as ‘jizia’. I believe in Indian constitution but i also firlmy believe islam must be reformed and verses which demean and humiliate non muslims should be removed.

    • I think that you first need to understand the arabic language. You don’t believe in what muslims believe in, so you are a non believer, and the word used to describe a non believer is kaafir. You can’t call black white. I don’t think islam needs to be reformed. You believe in your way and we will believe in ours. The essence and beauty of islam is monotheism and it will always remain that way.

      • And you wonder why you need to hide your “Muslimness”? Your “Musliness” is the problem, and will remain so with you having to bear its consequences, as you rightly should be. Don’t expect this victimhood complex to be your companion forever, sooner or later people will realize that it is a ruse to prevent any accountability for you or your religion.

      • Farzana-Thanks for your comments. I am sorry I do not understand the Arabic language. In your opinion, all Hindus are non-believers and can be called Kaafir. Am I right? So, What the holy book says what is required to be done with so-called -Kaafirs. As per you, all Hindus are Kaafirs. So, how a Hindu is supposed to be treated in Islam? Islam is a beautiful religion and I do not have any objection to it but your answer to my question is very important for me to develop my perception about Islam and any Muslim citizen of my country.

        • Well Islam in no doubt is a beautiful religion my friend.. It’s just the other Muslims who have got it wrong…the exact misinterpretation of the holy Qur’an. Almighty Allah has asked as to respect other religions..And these terrorists who are killing innocent people in the name of religion are not even Muslims according to me because almighty Allah says it’s he who is the creator, and only he has the sole right to take away the life given. Jihad itself is seen with a wrong perception by them, jihad simply means struggle. Not every Muslim is a traitor. Me on the other hand, well I simply try to portray my self as a responsible citizen prior to everything else… That’s what Islam says… Those who get martyred on the mother land will get rewarded in the heaven..
          https://vocalizingmysentiments.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/the-kargil-war-a-heroic-saga/
          Do read this article if u get time…yes I have written it…

  25. It is the BJP government following the diktats of RSS that is changing the secularism in India. Raanga and Billa are spreading hatred towards Muslims as well as other minorities. Shame on us Indians ! I don’t like the Congress party but at least they did not allow our country to be divided into Hindu – Muslim.

  26. But the rampant othering of Hindus in the name of KAAFIR and accusing the Gods as Infidels created great sense of insecurity among Hindus.As Honorable Kerala Governor has said first you have to look at your religion first to see what is the problem lies there to have created this scenario.

    • If you are in the majority then how can muslims cause such a great insecurity. Their is only 14 % of muslims in india compared to the 79% hindus. What on earth is making you feel so damn insecure?

      • The fact that you do not want to assimilate and all the while want to play the victim. It is frustrating more than anything else. Add to that, that you will bomb and kill and plunder like your ancestors if your way is not followed, what do you expect to happen then?

        • She, they, do not need to assimilate. They are different than me and that diiference needs to be understood by me. That difference gives them an identity and that identity gives her, them strength so it cannot be robbed and taken away from her.

      • 14% Muslims make 79% Hindus insecure because in 1951, there were only 9% Muslims and 83% Hindus. In West Bengal, Muslims are now 27% of population. If Muslim leaders work to convince common Muslims to practice family planning, then a lot of the insecurity of Hindus will go away. Owaisi is quite articulate and I don’t have any problem with his statements supporting Muslim rights, but even he has 4 kids and then defends that!

  27. Hello,

    The biggest PR stunt if there ever was is the “innocence” . Case in point is the muslim identity.
    I wonder how many times i have consumed ” Halal” meat, not thinking of mulsim identity. When someone talks pf this point, then he is bigot.
    All other ways, he is secular.

    Kapil Mishra–He only said, we want streets to be free. They were neither hindu streets nor muslim. But, muslim identify is emboldened by voices of Waris Pathan, where were your voices when condemnation of Waris Pathan we needed, where were the voices when in mumbai, jalsas were help for
    ” Agar CAA aya to india mei kuch baki nai rehega”.
    Mam, the case is simple, through sheer violence and time to time intimidation, you have abused the rights of a normal citizen. Now, the negatives of same are in front of all of us.
    During my board exams, i saw..all girls being told..no scarfs. but muslims being the privileged ones..were exempted.
    All mosques blaring the same stuff at same time, no check what so ever..but but muslims being the privileged ones…. exempted.
    Now, i wont go any further otherwise my reason will also look bigoted to you….but but muslims being the privileged ones..were exempted.

    And how are Delhi riots anti-muslim…Shahrukh was pointing gun at an Indian, not hindu , not muslim
    Ankit was stabbed 40 times to death..last time i checked…he was an indian. An indian and a Hindu.
    Dilbar negi, burnt alive with two amputed hands…last time i checked…he was an indian..and a hindu..

    There are cases of hate, no doubt..but it is fueled by mosques and maulvis..not by average Indian…and i count both Hindu and muslims in average Indian.

    Have some shame.

  28. I am originally from Mumbai but had moved to Bangalore for a job in an IT company from 2008-2012.

    Once, we were having a house party a friend’s place, the music got a bit loud and one of the neighbors called the cops. The cops came and shut the party down. The neighbor who complained created a ruckus blaming “North Indians” for ruining Bangalore. Nevermind the fact that our party had 4 kannadigas, 2 tamilians, 3 from Hyderabad.

    When rickshaw drivers, grocery store owners, vegetable vendors would learn that I am not a Banglorean, they would casually charge me more money than others.

    I once faced threat of physical violence as a rickshaw driver decided to charge me extra money despite what we agreed to earlier and I refused to pay. I had to dial 100 to prevent things from escalating.

    I faced challenges while renting an apartment from a TamBrham landlord as he citied that I was a “North Indian”, whereas I am a Brahmin from the western part of India. That didn’t matter to him.

    The reason why I am pointing these out as despite these negative experiences, I have nothing but fond memories of my time in Bangalore. I love that city as much as I love Mumbai. I made strong friendships that will last a lifetime and experienced personal and professional growth. If opportunity presents itself, I will not hesitate to go there again.

    It sucks that you have faced discrimination. But I strongly feel that if you chose to be a victim, the world will treat you as such.

    • You are absolutely correct. I live in the U.K. and have lived since I was a teenager(I am Pensioner now)
      I have seen many changes in my life but never even thought of giving up .
      We were called names and insulted and not to stand next to some bigots, never renting a room from them but even to share a drink together with them.
      To the point, we studied & worked diligently and acquired respect and I don’t wish to rub salt into these victims syndrome people that we are part of the ruling elite with a Chancellor , Home Secretary and others in top positions.
      Our victims friends are still seeking dole money and blaming the state.
      My kind regards & best wishes

  29. In India, a rare Muslim girl like her merely hides her Muslim identity. But in Pakistan and other Islamic nations, Hindu girls are raped, forcibly converted to Islam. Which is the greater crime?

    • If being better than Pakistan is going to be India’s benchmark, then it’s very sad commentary on the Indian civilization.

      • Consider other Islamic country then, Saudi Arabia for ex. – no other religion is even allowed to exist. Why must the burden of “secularism” be on non-islamic countries only?

      • Whether you like it or not Indian and Pakistanis have common origin. it is stupidity to consider Indians superior to Pakistanis. Pakistanis being practical did not bother too much with secularism and reduced minority from 30% to 1%. Pakistan consistently fared better than India in terms of hunger index and acute hunger before 2015 as per UN report. So you are typical of bawa ruined both, neither got Maya nor Ram.

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