Cancelling a cab because the driver is a Muslim man seems a super legit reason, right? Why give your money to these ‘jihadi people’, these outsiders who ruled India for several hundred years!
Welcome to the step-by-step guide of practising casual Islamophobia, where we teach you how to be Islamophobic in everyday life.
This guide is brought to you by years of internalised prejudice, in association with rising Hindutva sentiment in India.
Special thanks to Twitter user Abhishek Mishra for his viral Islamophobic tweet about cancelling a cab ride.
Step 1: Always Be Suspicious
The first step is the most important one. You must always be suspicious.
Be suspicious of who lives in your neighbourhood. You must not make it easy for Muslim people, especially young and single Muslims, to rent or buy a house in your ‘respectable’ locality.
Be suspicious of the clothes that may mark them as ‘different’. If they try to fit in or simply prefer to wear the kind of clothes you wear, you must not feel shame in exclaiming, “Oh! You don’t look Muslim at all!” or in asking, “Where’s your skull cap/burqa?”
Be suspicious of the food they eat, how they choose to pray or not pray, and the language in which they read or write. I know of someone who follows the last point so diligently that they’d never sit beside anyone reading Urdu on the metro.
Constant vigilance along with suspicion is also important, as is continual mistrust. Don’t mind being intrusive in people’s lives because you never know with these ‘terrorist types’, right?
Step 2: Know That They Are Not Us
Do not miss this step.
Suspicions must be fed into and supported by a binary between ‘us’ and ‘them’. In this binary, ‘we’ must be exalted and ‘they’ must be deemed inferior.
This can be achieved by using one-liners such as, “Hum main aur unn main bahut farq hai (There is a huge difference between us and them),” and “Kuchh bhi keh lo, woh hum jaise toh nahin bann sakte na (No matter what, they can’t be like us).”
If we are civilised and progressive, then they are necessarily barbaric and backward. Supplement this argument with examples.
Resort to what appeals the most to the everyday sensibilities of Indians: Bollywood. Talk of Alauddin Khilji’s barbarity and compare it to Rajput valour and honour. Question why Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor named their kid after the Persian conqueror Taimur.
Make sure you criticise them for keeping their women behind the purdah but treat your own women as objects, keep them within the ambit of domesticity, and defend honour killings and rapes.
You have to conceal your own double standards, even from your yourself, AT ALL COSTS.
Step 3: Never Read Biased History Books
Kitabein toh bahut padhi hongi tumne (You must have read a lot of books), but avoid reading biased history books that praise Islamic heritage in India.
There should be no talk of Akbar’s greatness or the beauty of the Taj Mahal. Take cue from the Uttar Pradesh government which left the Taj Mahal out of a state tourism booklet or from BJP MLA Sangeet Som who said that the Mughal-era mausoleum was built by ‘traitors’, and should find no place in Indian history.
Nobody is asking you to go to the extreme level of pronouncing, “Mandir wahin banayenge (We will built the temple there).” Not over a cup of tea at least. Where are your manners?
However, you can still appreciate the attempts of the Indian government to alter textbooks, so kids are taught the ‘right’ history.
Step 4: Pass On Your Values to Your Kids
Talking of kids, it is imperative that you pass on your values to your children. How else will systemic discrimination be perpetuated? How else will the circle of physical, verbal, and behavioural violence be completed?
Make sure they too learn the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Use pictorial representations as children understand better through visuals. Show them pictures of ISIS as representative of the entire Muslim population.
Establish a simple causality for them; end your sentences with “because they are Muslim.” For example, “He did not pay his rent on time because he is a Muslim,” or “She left her Hindu husband because she is a Muslim.” Mistrust, suspicion, and constant vigilance should all be passed on.
Teach them how to demarcate spaces. I know of someone who refused a Muslim neighbour entry into their house saying, “Agar mujhe pehle pata hota ki tu Musalman hai, toh main tujhe iss sheher main bhi per bhi nahin rakhne deta (If I knew beforehand that you’re a Muslim, I wouldn’t have let you enter this city too).” This was said in front of the former’s children.
Step 5: Always Practice Tolerance
In all this, remember, you are nothing if not tolerant. So what if you make casual jokes about Muslims? So what if you use slurs and abuses targeted at them?
Make sure your jokes and abuses are always bottom-lined with “at least I am not physically harming them.” You might also get away with a casual“but we’re only talking among ourselves, no need to be offended,” when debating with a Muslim-supporting Hindu.
You must remember at all times that tolerance towards Muslims functions selectively. So, you might be a fan of Shah Rukh Khan but you never ought to forget that he is a Muslim. You must learn from the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath.
You must be ready to shout, “Go to Pakistan!” from time to time at Indian Muslims, anti-national Hindus who befriend Muslims, and Pakistani-Muslim actors in the Indian film industry like Fawad Khan.
A final word: Casual Islamophobia is an art and half. You must be discreet, but at the same time not be afraid to be upfront, crude, and outrightly hateful. Cancel cabs driven by Muslim people and then brag about your Islamophobia on social media by all means.
Bonus points if you can be casually Islamophobic and still keep up the facade of being progressive. Repeat after me, “Hum bhed-bhav nahin karte (We do not discriminate).” This may be followed by an abrupt “par (but),” a pregnant pause, and finally the words, “Kashmir humara hai (Kashmir is ours).” #KhabarLive