The UAE-India Controversy - Explained - Seeker's Thoughts

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The UAE-India Controversy - Explained

The spread of the coronavirus has not only created a health emergency in the country but also brought India on the verge of a new kind of polarization. 

Some influential citizens of the Gulf country lashed out the Modi government for giving a free run to far-right Hindu extremists, who have engaged in violence against Muslims, entertaining genocidal fantasies.
Islamophobic comments made by Indian nationals working for the UAE have created a perfect political storm. 

Social media users in the Arab world have in recent weeks called out Indians for what they have deemed anti-Muslim and anti-Arab comments, with a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) royal family warning that Indians working in the wealthy country would be “fined and made to leave” if they made racist and discriminatory comments.

Princess Hend Al Qassimi’s statement was made in twitter on April 16, 2020 accompanied by a screenshot of a tweet by an Indian expatriate threatening “dealing to radical Islamic Tablighi terrorists” – a reference to the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat, which has been blamed for the surge in COVID-19 cases in India.

The Princess warned – “All employees are paid to work, no one comes for free. You make your bread and butter from this land which you scorn and your ridicule will not go unnoticed.''
Soon after, a 2015 tweet from Tejasvi Surya – from BJP had said – 95% of Arab women “have never had an orgasm in the last few hundred years” began to circulate online and was decried as being derogatory.

After Dubai-based businesswoman Noora Al Ghurair pointed out that Surya had been disrespectful to women and warned him against “traveling to Arab lands”, he deleted the tweet.
In recent weeks, an increasing number of India professionals have been reportedly fired and forced to leave the UAE for posting Islamophobic messages on social media.
Modi’s Reaction
Feeling the political heat, Modi tried to calm things out, he said – “COVID -19 does not see race, religion, color caste, creed, and language or borders before striking. Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood. We are in this together”.

But will this social media outrage actually affect India’s relationship with the Middle East?
8.9 million Indians work in Gulf Co-operation Council countries, namely UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
India, whose yearly trade relations with these countries have passed the US$100 billion mark, imports 80% of its oil requirements from the region. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have bestowed their highest civilian awards on Modi for bettering ties with these countries.
According to, John Calabrese, a scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank – it was unlikely the Gulf leaders would “engage in a war of words or impose a tangible cost on India” because of their existing extensive economic ties.
Indians work in white – as well as blue-collar jobs in the Gulf, while the region contributes more than 50% of remittances to India.
Such incidents have already happened. Over the past month, about six Indian nationals working in the UAE – where Indian expatriates make up 27% of the country’s population – have been sacked by their companies or face charges for allegedly sharing Islamophobic posts on social media.

Arab support for Indian Muslims
India’s Muslim minority had been on the streets until the deadly outbreak hit the country alongside fellow Indians of other faiths, protesting the country’s controversial citizenship law, which eased the citizenship path to those other than Muslims living in countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. 
India has had no hesitation in brutally cracking down on protesters, despite Islamophobic attacks across the country making life unbearable for the Muslim minority. 
The anti-Muslim remarks on Twitter passed by Indian nationals living in the Gulf country is now forcing the citizens of the rich Gulf state to rethink about their relations with the South Asian state. 
There are also some indications that a number of Arab celebrities in the UAE are likely to launch a campaign to challenge India’s anti-Muslim acts of aggression. 
Prominent Kuwaiti Lawyer and Director of International Human Rights Mejbel Al Sharika has announced to voluntarily take the case of Indian Muslims to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. He has asked Indian Muslims to help him document the evidence of violence against them.
Increasing Islamophobia in India refreshed some bad memories in the Arab world. 

Let’s throw some light on how Arab people treat non-Arabs or Indian in their country
An interview was taken by migrants to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The problem faced by Indians working in the Gulf is heart-rending of their exploitation. Migrants’ workers, many of them were calling the show from Gulf countries are being held for ransom. Recruitment agents were holding them hostage, demanding a large sum of money from their families in exchange for their release.
The journey back home has become more difficult for migrants because of the demand for ransom by the agents.
What labor activists say is a new and growing form of exploitation in the Gulf States, where the International Labour Organization estimates 9 million Indian work.
Many victims are unskilled or semi skills workers lured by job agents promises of good pay and easy work who find themselves trapped in low paying domestic jobs, often working up to 15 hours and having to endure verbal or physical abuse.
The agents usually keep the women’s passports, effectively holding them hostage in a foreign land.
This demand is pushing families into deep debts and until they arrange for the money the workers are abused and ill-treated in the agent’s custody.
The negative effects of these disparities have been further exacerbated by a prevalent GCC immigration program that perpetuates the unjust culture – the Kafala system. The system necessitates that all migrants workers have an in-country ‘sponsor’, typically their employer. Who is given an inordinate amount of control over their legal status?
The sponsor assumes responsibility for their employee and the workers needs their explicit written consent to change jobs, and in some cases even enter or exit the country.
Such a directive intrinsically leaves the workers extremely vulnerable to mistreatment, giving employers the ability to hold them against their will and force onto them extremely abusive labor conditions.

Other issues include improving the working and living conditions of the workers. The men are accommodated in ghetto-like labor camps that lack basic amenities like proper drinking water and sanitation facilities. Labour camps are cramped, with at least eight men living in a single room designed for no more than three or four people.

Lack of safety is another important aspect that should be addressed by Gulf employers. Accidents at construction sites are common, leading to a number of laborer deaths every year.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) singled out both Qatar and the UAE for criticism over the rights of migrant workers. The two countries are hosting high profile events in the coming years. Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the UAE will have the 2020 World Expo.

HRW pointed out the rampant abuse of workers, including non-payment of wages, a draconian sponsorship system, overcrowded labour camps, the confiscation of passports, and unsanitary conditions in the labor camps.
A human rights activist who went to Qatar bemoaned the conditions of workers in the country and said that Qatar has become an open jail due to human rights abuses.
“There is a rampant exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar. It has become an open jail where workers are trapped due to the confiscation of passports and non-payment of salaries.
HRW said more than 1.2 million migrant workers – mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Nepal, and Bangladesh – live and work in Qatar, and that number is increasing rapidly.
Tragically, a large number of Indian workers commit suicide in Gulf countries every year, mainly because of a lack of money and the harsh working and living conditions. Their country should be demanding that Gulf governments put a stop to human rights violations. The new Modi government has an important role to play: He should pressure the Gulf to improve conditions.

The Arab world is supporting Indian minorities, giving warning Indian workers in Gulf countries because of their intolerance, however, the Arab world is unaware from the political problems which India faces due to the diversity of religions. 

If we talk about the Rohingya issue or China’s ethnic cleansing, none of the Arab countries supported Muslims.

 Truth is that some percent of Tablighi jamaat is actually responsible for spreading the infection in several states of the country. 

In some part of India, people of every religion are equally responsible for spreading infection by doing religious gather and defy social distancing. And that’s how the pandemic is getting severe day by day in the country.

However, there is no denying with the fact that present government is seen as pro- hindutva, and minority feel insecurity about it. 

There is also no denying that the pro- Hindutva extremists have commented which are derogatory in nature, but a segment of Muslims in India makes it difficult to the rules to be applicable. The insecurity and mistrust is higher among Muslim Community, however, the government should be more inclusive and should take the immediate measures to reduce the bipolarisation. 
As the world is already suffering enough due to COVID-19, and every human being irrespective of religion and region should be at the same page. 

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