ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Tuesday slammed the online auction of Muslim women in India as an “obnoxious and repugnant act” and urged the international community to guarantee the safety and security of religious minorities in the South Asian country that is reeling under Hindu extremism.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the despicable and totally unacceptable harassment and insult of Muslim women on the internet and purpose-built online application in India,” the FO said in a statement after Bulli Bai, a web-based app, displayed photographs of several prominent Muslim journalists and activists and put them on “sale” in a fake auction.

The FO regretted that the action was meant to humiliate, harass and insult Muslim women using their doctored images.

“Hate-mongering followers of such applications attacked the dignity of nearly 100 influential Muslim women by ‘bidding’ on them with deeply offensive remarks,” it further said.

International community urged to guarantee safety of religious minorities in the South Asian country

It was the second time in nearly six months that Muslim women activists were humiliated and harassed online by putting them up for “auction”.

An app “Sulli Deals” in July last year put up more than 80 Muslim women for “auction” and described them as “deals of the day”.

No action has so far been taken against those who published and managed the app.

“It is reprehensible that no action has been taken against the perpetrators of similar abhorrent act six months ago auctioning dozens of influential Muslim women in India on a social media platform,” it said and accused the BJP government of remaining silent on this and other actions of Hindu extremists targeting Muslims.

Hindutva proponents openly calling for genocide of Muslims should send alarm bells across the international community about the gross and systematic human rights violations of minorities, particularly Muslims, in India, the FO said.

“Under the Hindutva-inspired BJP-RSS combine dispensation in New Delhi, space for minorities, particularly Muslims, is continuously shrinking in India,” it said.

Pakistan, the FO said, again called on the international community, particularly the United Nations and global human rights and humanitarian organisations, to stop the rising xenophobia, Islamophobia and violent attacks against minorities in India and ensure their safety, security and well-being.

The online attacks against minorities using purpose-built online platform(s) and social media marked a new low in the violent streak of hate attacks against minorities, it said.

These “horrifying occurrences”, the FO said, had left Muslim women in India traumatised and in deep fear.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2022

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