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India is not Modi, we once said. I wish I still believed it

By Zahir Janmohamed

23 Jun 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. Indian Muslims face suspicion and discrimination in India and abroad, often being treated as if they are not truly Indian, writes Zahir Janmohamed in The Atlantic.

Every Indian Muslim knows about the pause: the moment when another Indian, usually a Hindu, hears your name, waits a few seconds, and then, with a furrowed brow or a step back, acts surprised and confused that you, too, are Indian. The implication is one of suspicion, as though we are Indians with an asterisk—or worse, as though we are not Indians at all.

I have encountered this reaction at literary parties in New Delhi, where guests greet each other with air kisses, as well as during my office hours in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when more than one Hindu American student has expressed surprise that I—a Pakistani, they incorrectly assumed—cared so much about India.

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