Why does the Muslim world get enraged after the US cuts off funding to UNRWA and speaks of the PA joining into a confederation with Jordan but not when non-Muslims are persecuted in Islamic countries?
In recent days, the Muslim world is outraged over the fact that the US is cutting off funds to UNRWA and is seeking for the Palestinians to form a confederation with Jordan. Both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are up in arms, infuriated by both moves. The Hashemites rejected the idea immediately, viewing both moves to be a threat to their throne. The Jordan Times reported that the Hashemites are presently scrambling to save UNRWA from experiencing a financial crisis. Iran’s Press TV reported on the catastrophic consequences of Trump’s decision. Al Jazeera has referred to these moves as “Trump’s attempt to erase the Palestinian people.” TRT World, based in Turkey, published an article titled, “What is the point of negotiating for peace if Israel gains without it?” However, while the Muslim world is enraged over what potentially will happen to the Palestinian people, they do not seem to care at all about the plight non-Muslims in the Islamic world.
Take Bangladesh for example. According to Professor Amitabha Mookherjee, Director of the Institute for Higher Technical Learning, the Sheikh Hasina government is supporting the horrific torture, oppression, murder, rape and kidnapping of Hindus and other minorities directly and indirectly. Sukumar Biswas, a Hindu rights activist, stated that the Hindus of Bangladesh have gained citizenship in three countries in their lives (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), which is rare in the world and that after all of this, they are still being victimized by the Sheikh Hasina government: “My question is if Trump can be questioned over his Palestine policy and the international community can be questioned over the human rights violations experienced by Assad’s government, why cannot the world at large and especially the Muslim governments deal with the human rights violations committed on a daily basis against the Hindus of Bangladesh? Are they not human?”
General Secretary of Shivsena Pradip Ghosh said that he has found many evidence of human rights violations committed by the Bangladeshi government against the Hindu people including written information, videos of inhumane torture, etc. Shipan Kumer Basu, the President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, added that the torture is increasing by the day against Hindus and it appears that the torture will never stop. The Bangladesh Association in Europe President Suman Thakur noted that under the Sheikh Hasina government, the torture of minorities has gotten worse than it was at any time in the past. The Hindus of Bangladesh face such indignities even though they supported Bangladesh’s Liberation War and are loyal citizens.
Nevertheless, many Muslims in Bangladesh and Pakistan relate to Hindus in a derogatory manner, and do not respect their demand to be equal citizens. According to the Times of India, a recent ad that was placed for a job in the newspaper within Pakistan highlighted this point. According to this Pakistani ad, sanitary jobs were to be offered exclusively to Hindus and Christians, and not Muslims. Stating something like that in an ad indicates how Pakistani Muslims view the non-Muslim minorities: they are there merely to perform undesirable jobs and should not be given the right to prosper professionally. Many Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims seek statehood for the Palestinians without a Jordan confederation in the name of protecting the Palestinians right to self-determination but they are the first to deny the Hindus any right to be liberated citizens in their own country.
The Hindus of Bangladesh and Pakistan are not alone in suffering such a horrific fate. Human Rights Watch recently reported that at least 208 dervishes have been given inhumane prison sentences in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The prison sentences for the dervishes ranges from 4 months to 26 years and includes flogging, internal exile, travel bans and a ban on membership in social and political groups. According to Human Rights Watch, during the questioning, the judges focused upon the faith of the defendants rather than any recognizable crime that they may have committed. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, believing in a certain faith is a crime in and of itself. While the Sufi dervishes are the latest victims, other religious minorities in Iran such as the Bahais, Evangelical Christians and Mandeans have faced intense religious repression that threatens their very right to exist in Iran for decades. Other religious minorities such as the Zoroastrians, Jews, Sunnis and non-Evangelical Christians are also oppressed but not to the same level as the non-recognized non-Muslim minorities.
On Mount Shingal, most of the Yezidi temples have not been rebuilt and the area remains uninhabitable. In the Turkish held enclave in Syria, minorities are systematically oppressed and denied the right to live as free persons with basic human rights. Even Jordan, which has a moderate image in the West, does not treat its minorities properly. According to the US State Department, the Jordanian educational curriculum includes many negative examples about non-Muslims, which can be used to incite violence against Christians and other non-Muslims. One should recall that Jordanian Christian journalist Nahed Hatter was assassinated in front of a Jordanian courthouse before he was supposed to be tried for insulting religion after he posted a cartoon critical of ISIS. Furthermore, the Jordanian government also discriminates against the Bahais, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, even though it is still not as bad as Iran.
Why are the Muslim countries not outraged about all of this in the same manner that they are enraged about the idea of the Palestinians not getting full independence or being forced to build up their own school systems and health clinics rather than rely upon free healthcare and education from UNRWA? Are the lives of the non-Muslim minorities less important to them? Enough is enough. It is time for the Islamic world to wake up and to start caring about the plight of non-Muslims in their countries before they go on the offensive against President Donald Trump over his Palestine policy.
Rachel Avraham is the President of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights in Middle East (under formation). She is also a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research and Public Relations and a contributing writer at the Haym Salomon Center. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.