In a hate attack on Muslims, their organisations and Islam the right-wing extremist group Hindu Sena on Sunday gathered outside the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) in Delhi looking to stir up trouble and vandalised the signboard of the IICC and pasted posters on it that read “Jihadi Terrorist Islamic Centre”. Hindu Sena accepted responsibility for this outrageous crime as its president said that the group was “angry” at the Muslim Community for their “terrorist activities” in France and elsewhere in India.
The Islamophobic act comes after French President Emmanuel Macron openly defended and reproduced insulting and anti-Islamic caricatures that led to protests across the world including several parts of India. We discussed in our previous issue how the right to “freedom of expression” was restrictive even by standards of ECHR and how it cannot be abused to insult, disrespect, damage the reputation and rights of others. Hindu Sena has called protesters in India as “extremists” but the organisation is well known for its anti-Muslim stand and prejudice against Islam and Muslims from its malicious activities that intend to promote disharmony and feelings of enmity and hatred between religious groups. It has in the past falsely reported beef being served in “Kerala House”, defaced “Babur Road” for its Muslim name and pursued other anti-Muslim activities that present Islam or its followers as terrorists.
Police have said that posters were removed and FIR was registered against “unknown persons” under Section 3 of the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act. It said it scanned CCTV cameras but could not find any relevant footage while Hindu Sena workers openly admit to committing the crime. The attack was not just a “defacement” of property but a malicious act brazenly committed to outrage and insult the religious sentiments and religious beliefs of Muslims by calling them and their organisations as “Jihadi Terrorists” Centres. The crime was committed to promote enmity and was prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony and public tranquillity. It is not known what is preventing the Delhi Police from registering it as a hate crime and arresting the “known” persons.
India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) is a prestigious and old institution that was developed under the patronage of the Department of Culture, Government of India and inaugurated by the late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi as a Centre for the promotion of understanding amongst different religious groups to help the cause of national integration. Till date the IICC continues to stand by its ideas and noble beliefs – protection, promotion of harmony and understanding among various religious groups in India and it does so by organising talks, seminars and programmes that include celebration of all festivals including Diwali, Eid, Holi, Guru Nanak Birthday and Christmas. IICC has become an important hub for the promotion of Indian Culture through its literary and cultural programmes and exhibitions that are attended by people from all regions and all faiths. Its Governing Council comprises of intellectuals from various fields, including lawyers, writers and former IAS officers who are committed to promoting cultural and religious harmony.
Attack on the Centre is reprehensible and it is committed by those who intend to create trouble, promote enmity and disharmony among religious groups and should be dealt with accordingly by the police to prevent such groups from undertaking any such activity in the future.