Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid with PM Modi
India’s strategically located neighbour in the Indian Ocean, Maldives, has come to its rescue before an increasingly hostile OIC.
Malé told the OIC in an address this week that singling out India for Islamophobia would not just be factually incorrect but also detrimental to religious harmony in South Asia.
Malé further declared that it wasn’t going to support any action by OIC which singled out India.
For India, the statement coming out of the OIC member-state is very reassuring at a a time the organisation, which describes itself as the collective voice of the Muslim world, has stepped up attacks on India over not just developments in J&K but also the alleged discrimination against Muslims.
The Maldives Permant Representative in New York, Thilmeeza Hussain, said that while her country stood firmly against Islamophobia, xenophobia or any form of violence to promote political or any other agenda, it also believed targeting a specific country will be like side-stepping the real issue.
“In this light, let me state that singling out India, the largest democracy in the world and a multicultural society and home to over 200 million Muslims, alleging islamophobia would be factually incorrect. It would be detrimental to the religious harmony in the South Asian region,” said the official, adding that Islam had existed in India for centuries and that it was the second-largest religion in India, accounting for 14.2% of the country’s population.
The top diplomat, who is also the Maldives ambassador to the US, further said “isolated statements by motivated people and disinformation campaigns” on social media should not be construed as representative of the feelings of 1.3 billion.
“Therefore, the Maldives cannot support any action within the OIC, that singles out or targets India,” Hussain added.
This was even as she acknowledged that the world had seen an alarming rise in the culture of hatred, prejudice and racism and that violence had been exploited as a tool to promote political and other ideologies and agendas.
Despite India’s growing ties with the Gulf countries, the 57-member OIC as a whole has remained extremely critical of India on issues related to J&K and what it called a vicious campaign to malign Muslims for the spread of Covid-19 in the country. India had responded by describing the comments as not just deeply regrettable but also factually incorrect and misleading.
Earlier this week, flowing changes in the domicile certificate rules in J&K, the OIC’s human rights commission rejected India’s “illegal actions” which it alleged was meant to alter the demographic status of the union territory and violate of UNSC and OIC resolutions.
In a statement which Pakistan was quick to welcome on Wednesday, the OIC also called upon the international community to “gear up” efforts to resolve the J&K issue in accordance with UNSC resolutions and as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.