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Tavleen Singh writes: Enough of religious hatred

Tavleen Singh writes: The real problem has been created by BJP ‘intellectuals’ who appear not to notice how they demean India and the Indian idea of faith with their hysterical diatribes against Islam.

The sight of Muslim mobs in Hyderabad last week threatening publicly to behead the BJP politician who they believe insulted the Prophet of Islam was horrifying and disturbing. (Photo: Facebook/@RajaSinghOfficial)

The sight of Muslim mobs in Hyderabad last week threatening publicly to behead the BJP politician who they believe insulted the Prophet of Islam was horrifying and disturbing. Whatever the wretched man said he was immediately arrested for it and suspended by his party. That should have been the end of it. Cries of ‘sar tan se juda’ have no place in India. This is not an Islamic country and we do not have blasphemy laws so in more ways than one, the fanatics in that mob are as guilty of a crime as the politician they want to behead. Disrespecting the rule of law is as bad as disrespecting someone’s faith. More importantly, the Islamists who believe that their Prophet demands the beheading of those who cast aspersions on him must be reminded that they cannot impose barbaric Islamic punishments in a country populated with infidels and idolators. Most of us proud to be unbelievers.

The problem is that in the ‘new India’ there is not a single political leader who has the moral authority to control Islamist fanatics. This is because of too much indulgence of Hindutva fanatics and because of allowing an atmosphere of hatred founded on grievances from medieval times. This atmosphere has been created not by Hindutva lowlifes who vomit out their bile daily on social media against Muslims, liberals, leftists and (mysteriously) George Soros.

The real problem has been created by BJP ‘intellectuals’ who appear not to notice how they demean India and the Indian idea of faith with their hysterical diatribes against Islam. The other culprits are rabid, Hindutva-minded TV anchors who use their primetime shows to openly exhibit their hatred of Islam and Muslims. In doing this they add fuel to a fire that is already showing signs of burning deep holes in the social fabric of India.

It is not about the ‘ganga-jamuni sanskriti’ they so revile but about trying to save this country from being torn apart by ancient hatreds. Why is it so hard for them to see that the Muslims who live in India today are not responsible for the horrors wreaked upon this land by barbarous Muslim invaders? Why is to so hard for them to see that Muslims in India are not a small minority that can be cowed into submission by lynchings, campaigns against ‘love jihad’ or the erasure of Muslim names of cities and streets. Turning mosques back into temples and insulting the Prophet Mohammad has not intimidated Muslim communities across India. It has emboldened them to fight harder for equal rights.

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The more that they are kept out of playing their rightful role in the political and cultural life of a country that belongs as much to them as to Hindus, the more they are likely to turn to insane jihadism. In the twenty years since 9/11, when Islamist violence spread across the world, Indian Muslims have kept away from joining the armies of Al Qaeda and ISIS. This indicates that they have felt safe in India. Some of the extreme positions that we see today, like the demand for girls to wear ‘hijab’ in schools and colleges are because of the hostility that has been directed at them simply because they are Muslims.

In recent weeks, after bulldozers came to be the weapon that the Indian state has started using to crush dissent, Muslims would be right to feel more insecure than they ever have before. It is no secret that the bulldozers seem to find mostly Muslim houses to demolish whenever there has been violence or rioting. It does not help that every time there is violence senior ministers and BJP spokesmen openly declare that Muslim jihadists are traitors who want to destroy India. They find links between the protests against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) and the public rage that has been caused by perceived insults to the Prophet.

If there is a consistent link, it is in the systematic way Muslims have been made to feel like lesser citizens in the past eight years. In Narendra Modi’s first tenure there were the lynchings and the attacks on cattle farmers and meat traders by cow vigilantes. Only once did the Prime Minister speak out against these attacks and that was after Dalit youths were tied to a car in Gujarat and beaten publicly by upper caste Hindus for the ‘crime’ of skinning a dead cow.

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After winning his second term the Prime Minister remained silent until Nupur Sharma’s reckless comment caused the whole Islamic world to erupt in collective rage. Indian officials then went out of their way to assuage the hurt sentiments of the leaders of Islamic countries but so far there has been no attempt by the Prime Minister to assure Indian Muslims that they will always be equal citizens in India. It is time that he did speak up so that his Hindutva followers start calming down. He must know that his dream of making India into a developed country will not come true if this communal cauldron boils over.

In this column, I have repeated ad nauseum, that it is time for a Truth Commission, at which Hindus and Muslims can come together to settle their differences. Is it because the BJP benefits more at election time from dividing Hindus and Muslims than bringing them together that this has not happened? It certainly seems that way.

First published on: 28-08-2022 at 04:05:34 am
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