Meet the artists resisting India’s new citizenship law

A large poster of a woman wearing hijab in the three colours of the Indian flag hangs over a highway signboard near Shaheen Bagh in the Indian capital of New Delhi. “Speak, for your lips are free,” the woman in the poster commands.

She appears again on a metro pillar nearby, and in the hands of protesters in Shaheen Bagh and across India.

For more than six weeks now, protesters across India have taken to the streets to oppose a controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which they say discriminates against Muslims as it makes faith a basis for granting Indian citizenship.

The Hindu nationalist government says the law is meant to help persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries, but critics say it undermines the country’s secular Constitution.

Muslims, Dalits and other marginalised groups in particular fear the planned nationwide counting of citizens (National Register of Citizens or NRC) could potentially render them stateless. A similar exercise in Assam state excluded nearly two million people from the citizenship list last year.

In New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere, protesters have transformed public spaces with art.

“Art helps you resist and persist,” says Tanzeela, an advertising professional and the artist behind the now-iconic image of the woman in the tricolour hijab. Tanzeela found inspiration for her art in anger. “It broke me in so many ways that I was enraged,” she says.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera. Published Jan 29, 2020

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