No Muslim majority country has done more to harm the rights and welfare of Muslim communities around the world than the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ).
It not only normalized Israel’s occupation and colonial rule over the Palestinian people but also has endorsed and aided China’s persecution of ethnic Uyghurs, a Muslim minority; armed the violent warlord ex-General Khalifa Haftar, who has committed all kinds of atrocities against pro-democracy, anti-dictatorship Libyans; bombed and colonized Yemen; and given its seal of approval to India’s Hindu settler-colonial-project in Kashmir, where Indian forces have killed upwards of 100,000 Muslims since 1990.
And now you can add another moral transgression to the UAE’s long list of dastardly deeds, with revelations suggesting the Emirati state is helping the Hindu nationalist Indian government cover up its human rights violations against the country’s 200 million Muslim population. This is at a time when human rights advocates are warning of looming genocide against the religious minority.
The Emirati state is helping the Hindu nationalist Indian government cover up its human rights violation.
On January 31, Dubai-based Forbes Middle East terminated the employment of Rachel Chitra, an Indian-born journalist, two days after the Oxford University-based Reuters Institute published her research on hate crimes in India. Her report shows a year-on-year upward surge in mob lynching and vigilante violence against Muslims and other minorities since Narendra Modi swept to power in 2014.
Chitra’s research found that an overwhelming majority of hate crimes during the 2014 to 2020 period were targeted against Muslims and Dalits by right-wing groups and individuals in states ruled by the political party Modi leads – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Chitra said she felt compelled to compile a hate crime database after a 15-year-old Muslim boy was lynched and stabbed to death by a Hindu nationalist mob in Delhi on June 17, 2017.
“To me, it felt as if a new India emerged after that day: with more reports of the lynching and rape of Muslims and Dalits surfacing in the media daily. Going by the coverage, there definitely seemed to be an increase in violence. But no data was forthcoming,” she writes.
On February 3, two days after her research was published, Chitra was removed from the WhatsApp groups administered by Forbes Middle East. According to India-based magazine Article 14, later that day, she was fired without notice or an exit interview, despite having held her position at the company for three years with an unblemished record.
Two days after her research was published, Chitra was fired without notice or an exit interview
Forbes Middle East has declined requests to comment from both Article 14 and Inside Arabia.
It’s entirely improbable that Chitra’s firing is not related to the deepening ties between the UAE and New Delhi. It’s worth remembering that Modi was awarded the Arab monarchy’s highest civilian honor – the Order of Zayed — in 2019, for recognition of his efforts to boost bilateral ties between the two countries.
“The award in the name of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, acquires special significance as it was awarded to Prime Minister Modi in the year of the birth centenary of Sheikh Zayed,” said UAE’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) at the time.
The strengthening ties between Modi and MbZ have not only produced cooperation and deals related to intelligence, defense, and infrastructure but also fortified the UAE’s willingness to lay down diplomatic cover for the Indian government’s crackdown on its Muslim minority.
When the international community condemned Modi and BJP, after its leaders incited the Delhi Riots, which left 51 Muslims hacked, burnt, and shot to death at the hands of Hindu extremists in February 2000, the UAE’s English language newspaper Gulf News published a shameless editorial titled, “Stop Blaming Modi for Delhi Riots and All Things Evil in India.”
The article not only placed equal blame on the Muslim victims, while whitewashing the perpetrator’s responsibility for the violence but also absolved the Indian government of all guilt by saying, “If even for one second you think that it is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is to be held responsible for this bloodshed, then think again.”
The Dubai-based Gulf News also conveniently omitted the fact the United States had placed a ban on Modi entering the country for his role in inciting the 2002 Gujarat Riots, which left more than 2,000 Muslims dead, a pogrom that earned him the moniker “the Butcher of Gujarat.”
The 2002 Gujarat Riots left more than 2,000 Muslims dead, a pogrom that earned Modi the moniker “The Butcher of Gujarat.”
Two years ago, the Indian newspaper The Print argued the roots of the burgeoning relationship between India and the Emirati state trace back to Modi’s complicity in the kidnapping of Princess Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was forcibly taken from a yacht by Indian commandos off the shores of Goa in 2018, before being sent back to the UAE to face her abusive father, a man found guilty of imprisoning his wives and mistreating his daughters.
You can “join the dots between India sending back Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa to UAE two years ago and the Gulf countries siding with Delhi on everything from oil to Kashmir,” observes Indian columnist Jyoti Malhotra.
More recently, the UAE stuck a “knife in the back of eight million Kashmiri Muslims” when Dubai signed an accord with the Indian government in October 2021 to build a series of infrastructure projects in Kashmir, a disputed territory. The deal, valued at more than one billion dollars, includes the construction of industrial parks, logistic centers, IT towers, a medical college, and a specialty hospital.
Not only does the agreement normalize India’s colonial rule and revocation of the Muslim majority territory’s semi-autonomous status, but it also comes at a time when residents are being subjected to a swathe of cruelties at the hands of one million Indian soldiers, including communications blackouts, curfews, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, fake encounter killings, and more.
To conceal these crimes, India has launched a crackdown on journalists in Kashmir, having recently shut down the office of the Kashmir Press Club and arrested prominent journalists for criticizing the Indian government and military.
The firing of Dubai-based Indian journalist Rachel Chitra suggests the UAE is aiding and abetting the Indian government.
In this light, the firing of Dubai-based Indian journalist Rachel Chitra suggests the UAE is aiding and abetting the Indian government in its campaign to silence those who report human rights violations and hate crimes against the country’s Muslim minority.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia – arguably the most Islamic country in the world – has also been working on expanding ties with the ever-Islamophobic India. Lieutenant General Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed al-Mutair and Indian army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane met to discuss increasing military ties on February 15.
In 2021, India was the kingdom’s “second-largest trading partner” for the first three quarters of the year. Critics have expressed their concern regarding the Saudi-Indian alliance, yet defense diplomacy and economic development are clearly the kingdom’s top priority.
Hence, while experts are warning genocide in India is imminent, Modi is making deals with Muslim countries left and right – earning their tight-lipped economic loyalty – and quashing chances of stopping India’s Islamophobic agenda before it’s too late.