New Delhi: Describing the recent attacks on Africans in the national capital as "racial", African students here on Friday urged Indians to come forward and join hands with them to put an end to the discriminatory practices.
"We came to India as we found it closer to our culture," Ibrahim Djid, a 25-year old Libyan national said at the Africa-India Solidarity Forum here.
"But now everyday I am asked by my parents and friends that `Is India a racist country? Are you people facing racism`? And I say yes," Ibrahim Djid added.
"People here classify us by our skin colour, and the recent incidents of attacks have had a very deep impact on us. And now we don`t count days, but we count hours of our stay here," he said, adding: "This sort of behaviour towards us is very unfair. And thus we need to combine all of us here and join hands to put an end to such practice."
Ibrahim has been staying in India since 2011 and studies Business Administration at the Noida International University in the national capital region.
The intercultural meeting was organised at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in the wake of the killing of a Congolese national and a string of other attacks on Africans staying in New Delhi, and a case of assault in Hyderabad -- all of which have caused widespread anger among the community.
Renowned journalist Seema Mustafa, addressing the event, said: "We create a climate of impunity because we don`t act swiftly. And thus, they again feel free to attack."
"We are genetically a racist society and this discrimination is inside us," she added.
Even former ambassador to Italy KP Fabian felt that though India speaks about globalisation but the mindset of the country isn`t globalised yet.
He said that this mindset needs to be changed and that people need to speak to the Africans to understand their problems. "A practice that Mahatma Gandhi would have done by speaking to them," he said.
"And to maintain the cultural relationship of India and Africa, we need to strengthen the communication bridge," the former ambassador added.
Muniza Khan, a social activist from Varanasi, said that the attacks on Dalits, minorities and Africans should not be taken lightly, and that a strong civil society is required to fight the discrimination.
"Racism is inherited in India by birth in the family which is very shameful," Muniza Khan said.
"Children here are taught about skin colors since childhood and there is a mentality that fair skin is always better while dark is bad," she added.
Shahid Siddiqui, president of Association of African Students in India and Intercultural Resources, told IANS, "The dialogue between members of African countries living in Delhi and Indian citizens has been organised to bridge the gap between the two communities."
"This is a platform by the Indian people for the African nationals on how to solve this kind of problem," he said, adding, "Soon state-wise meeting would be held on regular interval to decide the future course to minimise the cultural gap."
"This forum will work to change the mindset, which can mobilise more like-minded people all over the country," he added.
Appreciating the effort of the civil society, Ola Jason, a Nigerian national, told IANS, "This meeting resembles that we are calling for a change. And it is always appreciated when it is for from bad to good."