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Community Protest Against Pogroms in India

With pogroms against Muslims in India now claiming over 1000 lives in a recent round of violence, community leaders in Chicago organized a community anti-violence protest march March 10th. (article 4)
With pogroms against Muslims in India now claiming over 1000 lives in a recent round of violence, community leaders in Chicago organized a protest march March 10th. Despite a bitterly cold day, some 100+ people assembled on just a few days notice to march down Devon Avenue in the city’s main South Asian neighborhood, led by representatives of the Mohammedan Muthida Minority Movement, The Consultative Committee of Indian Muslims, Mohammadan Muthida Minority Movement, American Federation Muslim India, South Asian Performing Arts Council of America, the Gujrat Muslim Organization, and the Fine Arts Academy of Chicago.

India’s government, led by the Hindu fundamentalist BJP party, has encouraged violence and discrimination against the country’s Muslims and other minorities. The central flashpoints for the conflict have been India’s continued military occupation of the majority-Muslim province of Kashmir and the current government’s incitement of mobs to obliterate a partially-destroyed Muslim mosque (“Babri“) and build a Hindu temple (“Ram Mandir”) in its place.

A provocative mob attempt to destroy the mosque, encouraged by the government to divert attention from its social and economic failings, led to the recent round of pogroms. In February, an organized group of Hindu fundamentalists traveling by train to Babri, with the stated intent of destroying the mosque, stopped at a train station in a predominately Muslim neighborhood. After shouting Hindu chauvinist slogans, the fundamentalists allegedly were attacked by Muslims, who set the train afire, killing many of the fundamentalists and others aboard the train.

The attack in turn prompted a wholesale slaughter of Muslims across the country, with at least 1,000 Muslims dead by conservative estimates. By encouraging Hindu mobs to attack the mosque, the BJP government is directly responsible for promoting an environment which encourages pogroms against the country’s minority Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities.

But blame for the deaths of innocent Muslims in India should also be put at the doorstep of the Bush administration which, in order to maintain its so-called alliance against terrorism, has been studiously silent about the chauvinistic actions by the Indian government its terrorizing of its minority Muslim population. As with so many other actions by Bush, et al, its stance towards India shows the hypocrisy of the “war on terrorism.”

Photo captions --
Picture #1: Amjid Hashmi of the Consultative Committee of Indian Muslims leads the march down Devon Avenue.

Picture #2: Altaf Khan with Ifti Nasim (left to right), the initiator of the protest. Both are with Sangat, a South Asian gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered organization, and Ifti is a weekly columnist for Pakistan Express newspaper.

Picture #3: Syed Shakeel Ahmed Kazmi, President of the Mohammadan Muthida Minority Movement. In solidarity, Shakeel and others from the Devon Ave. protest joined a Free Palestine demonstration at the Israeli consulate the next day. Shakeel will be addressing a Free Rabih Haddad rally at 7 pm, Saturday, March 23, at the United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Avenue, sponsored by the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism (URL: chicago.indymedia.org/front.php3).

Pictures #4 & #5: Protest crowd marches down busy Devon Avenue.

Picture #6: Amjid Hashmi addresses the crowd, with Ameer Khan to his right.

Picture #7: Ifti Nasim addresses the crowd.

Pictures #8 & #9: Marchers on Western Avenue and Devon.
 
 

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