UN experts urge India to stop victimizing Muslim journalist Rana Ayyub

UNITED NATIONS: UN rights experts urged India on Tuesday to “end relentless misogynistic attacks” on a Muslim journalist as Indian Muslims protested across the United States against the hijab ban in their country.

Rana Ayyub, an independent journalist and defender of women’s human rights, “continues to be the target of intensifying online harassment by far-right Hindu nationalist groups,” the UN experts said in a statement issued in New York.

They noted Ms. Ayyub’s reports on issues affecting minority Muslims in her country and criticized the Indian government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. In her latest statement, Ms. Ayyub also criticized a recent ban on hijabs at schools and colleges in Karnataka state.

“In response to Ms. Ayyub’s efforts to shine a light on public interest issues and hold power to account through her reporting, she has been maliciously targeted with anonymous death and rape threats by organised groups online,” the experts said.

Protests held in US against ‘Islamophobic and unconstitutional ban on students wearing hijabs’ in Karnataka

The statement noted that Indian authorities have targeted Ms Ayyub with various forms of harassment over a number of years.

On February 11, for the second time in six months, her bank account and other assets were frozen on “seemingly baseless allegations” of money laundering and tax fraud related to her crowd-funding campaigns to provide assistance to those affected by the pandemic, the experts said.

“The lack of condemnation and proper investigation by the government, coupled with the legal harassment it has itself inflicted on Ms Ayyub, has only served to falsely legitimize the attacks and attackers and further endangered her safety,” they added.

Genocide in India

Also, during the long weekend, which ended on Monday, hundreds of Indian Americans held protests at multiple places across the United States against “Islamophobic and unconstitutional ban on students wearing hijabs in schools by the Hindu nationalist government in India’s Karnataka state,” said a statement issued by the Alliance to Stop Genocide in India.

The protests were held in Orlando, Florida; South Brunswick, Teaneck, and Paramus, New Jersey; as well as Plano, Irving, and Valley Ranch, Texas. A coalition of Indian American and US-based civil rights organizations and activists also supported the protests.

Protests were also held in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, California, and Washington state.

Protesters held placards saying “my body, my choice,” “revoke hijab ban,” “stop telling women what to do”, “hijab is my right,” and “hijab ban in India is apartheid.”

Protesters gathered outside public offices, parks, and places of worship, urging Americans not to remain silent on the atrocities committed against Muslims in India.

“It’s my choice, keep your hands off my hijab,” read one of the placards held at a protest in New York.