Hindu self-loathing always puzzles me, but last week it left me really confused. On the day that Ayman al-Zawahiri sent us his latest movie announcing an Indian base for the worldwide jihad , most Hindu commentators responded by apologising in different ways. Television reporters went off in search of ordinary Muslims and allowed them to vent their rage against America. Most said the Zawahiri video was a fake. ‘Muslims are not allowed to kill innocent people…Islam is a religion of peace.’ The reporters asked no further questions. On TV chat shows, I was appalled to hear learned commentators describe the jihad as a direct consequence of India’s ‘ill-treatment of Muslims’. And, then came the Congress party’s opinion on the matter. Rahul Gandhi’s mentor, Digvijaya Singh, said that al-Qaeda was only another face of the RSS.
Personally, I think very poorly of the RSS. I believe that the aged men who control this ‘cultural’ organisation have diminished India’s immeasurable contribution to world civilisation by reducing it to religion. But, to compare the RSS to al-Qaeda is a dangerous lie. It invokes memories of Rahul Gandhi telling the US ambassador to India (according to WikiLeaks) that Hindu terrorism was a bigger threat to India than jihadi terrorism.
Self-loathing so blinds Hindus that the Indian media has barely covered the rise of ISIS except when they kidnapped Indian citizens. So most Indians remain unaware of the frightening reality that the Islamic State now is a country the size of Jordan. This new ‘caliphate’ controls an army of brutal killers, oil wells, dams and cities. Its leaders have shown us a vision of governance that makes North Korea look like utopia. Women have no rights in the ‘caliphate’, adulterers are stoned to death and journalists beheaded. These are things that the ‘Caliph’ is so proud of that he makes videos and posts them on the Internet. It seems that nobody has reminded the ‘Caliph’ lately that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’. Or that Muslims mention mercy (Rahim) as one of the attributes of the Prophet every time they take his name.
If in India we continue to ignore what is happening in Allah’s name, not just in Syria and Iraq but in our immediate neighbourhood, then the jihadi dream of ruling India once more will come true. It is time to stop being politically correct, and draw some red lines before it is too late. The first of these lines should be that there is no place in India for the kind of Islam that exists in the new ‘caliphate’. The second of these lines is that any organisations in India that are working towards spreading this vicious, new Islam must close shop and move elsewhere. It is true that most ordinary Muslims have no sympathy for the jihad, but it is time for leaders of the community to speak up more clearly.
So far, every time they condemn jihadi violence they usually also blame it on America. This anti-Americanism reaches such ridiculous levels that if you took a poll in any Muslim neighbourhood, you would find that the majority believes to this day that 9/11 was an American plot. Ask them why they say this and they will tell you that it was because the Americans want to destroy Islam. This is rubbish and it is time to say this in so many words. Just as it is time to say that Ayman al-Zawahiri is an evil man who must be stopped from opening his jihadi office on Indian soil.
Hindu self-loathing is so boundless that while this new phase of jihadi terrorism has been taking shape, we have spent our time beating ourselves up over the ‘rise of communalism’ since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. Routinely on evening chat shows, famous anchors have ranted and raved against ‘love jihad’ and against that MP from Gorakhpur who nobody had heard of till yesterday. Every incident of supposed ‘Hindu communalism’ has been magnified and discussed threadbare with some political pundits pronouncing nightly that ‘India as we know it has ceased to exist’.
Meanwhile in the west, a man called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has appointed himself the new ‘Caliph’ of Islam and ordered all Muslims to pay obeisance to him. How many times have you heard this discussed on Indian television? How many political pundits have devoted even as much space to this new monster as they did to that Shiv Sena MP’s attempt to force-feed a Muslim during Ramzan?
The media is unlikely to change its ways in a hurry, so we have no choice but to pin all our hopes on our ‘non-secular’ Prime Minister. He needs to do much more to secure India against jihadi terrorism than his very secular predecessor did. We cannot allow another 26/11.
Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh