IMRC New England Fundraiser: Journalist Mehdi Hasan draws attention to similarities of Islamophobia in US and India

By Dolly Arjun for

Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC), a US-based non-profit that supports projects for Muslims and other minorities in India, hosted their 8th annual New England fundraiser dinner at Doubletree Hotel in Burlington, Massachusetts USA on March 9, 2019, raising over $200K. The money will go to support emergency relief for natural disasters, a feeding program, medical care, and education support from elementary to university level. In addition to Indian Muslims, Muslims of different descent attended the sold-out event featuring Mehdi Hasan, British political journalist and author, as the keynote.

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Three youth began the event with Quran recitation after which the President and Vice President of IMRC New England, Munaf Shaikh and Imtiaz Iqbal welcomed everyone to the event. IMRC’s project work was highlighted including a new clinic that will be built in Hyderabad, India. Data was presented showing the need for education support as only 13% of Scheduled Caste, 4.8% of ST and 4.5% of Muslims are enrolled in colleges across India.

Mehdi Hasan at IMRC event

Hasan began his remarks by bringing attention to Palestine and Kashmir noting that while Palestine gets more attention, Kashmir is amongst the most densely militarized zone in the world with 1 solider for every 8 Kashmiris, occupied both by Indian and Pakistani forces. Seven hundred thousand Kashmiris have been killed since the 1970s with rampant on-going sexual assault of thousands of Kashmiri women.

He then shifted to the similarities between Modi and Trump stating, “both are narcists…and can’t tolerate dissent,” that both discourage freedom of the press, and while Modi is trying to build a Hindu nation, Trump is trying to build a White Christian nation. “Both are authoritarians and want to be dictators…both like Hitler…and both have a disdain for minorities, especially Muslims.” The uniting strategy of both Islamophobic leaders is to ‘other’ Muslims in the respective countries. He concluded these remarks by stating Trump and Modi are the beneficiaries of long-standing Islamophobia in both countries and not the cause of it.

He went on to add that while both national leaders utilize the language of genocide, Modi may be more dangerous given “he is a (mentally) “stable genius” whereas Trump is unhinged.” Modi has already presided over a mass massacre of Muslims with no repercussions; in addition, despite being banned from the USA as a result of those crimes he was elected prime minister and the ban subsequently lifted with support from American politicians.

Hasan concluded his remarks by encouraging everyone in the room to contribute positively to these issues by working together with other oppressed minorities such as Jews and Christians and refrain from partaking in discriminatory behavior, giving money to organizations such as IRMC, breaking myths and stereotypes by building relationships with people outside the community, educating ourselves, and becoming politically engaged.
Following Hasan’s speech, Farooq Ansari facilitated the donation collection starting with a goal of $250K and successfully motivating the audience to meet the target.

The night ended with a Question and Answer session and dinner. Multiple audience members asked about the process of youth engagement in political spaces in the US which Hasan encouraged. Hasan also advocated speaking about Kashmir in terms of human rights violations given the precarious situation this can put Indian Muslims in when advocating for Kashmiris. He also added that the world should prioritize the voices of Kashmiris.