…From superpower-in-waiting India, silly!
All Muslims are not Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslims
After the death of more than 200 commuters in the coordinated Mumbai train blasts in July, 2006, the city police in an effort to prove that no stone is being unturned to catch the culprits raided the shanties and flats of the Muslim ghettos throughout the metropolis. Houses were searched, cupboards were emptied, and mattresses were turned upside down. While the women were spared, the men in the house – fathers, sons, uncles, cousins – were taken to the nearest police station for further interrogation. Almost all of them were later released.
It is believed that Islamist terrorists were behind the blasts and this logic gave a moral license to the country's authorities to put an entire community to suspicion.
Muslims in India
Islam is the second largest religion in India. True. India has the largest number of Muslims after Indonesia. True. Indian Muslims are the only Muslims in the world who are fortunate to repeatedly cast votes in free democratic elections in their native lands. True. Some of India's top film stars are Muslims. True. There have been three Muslim Presidents in India, including the present one. True. India's richest man is a Muslim. True. The Indian whose company manufactures cheap AIDS medicines for the world's poor is a Muslim. True. India's greatest ornithologist was a Muslim. True. Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim. True.
So what's the problem?
Muslim Pie in India
According to the 2001 Census of India, Muslims constitute 13.4% of the country's population. But they account for just 3% of government employees, and an even smaller percentage are employed by private Hindu businesses. Meanwhile, in the cities, 30% of Muslims are illiterate, vs. 19% of Hindus. Literacy rate of Muslims is 59.1, vs. 65.11 of Hindus. Work participation rate is 31.3, vs. 40.4 of Hindus. The statistics of the Hindus, who constitute more than 80% of the total population, should be kept in perspective while comparing these figures.
Islam in India’s Domestic Politics
Muslims are generally sympathetic to the country's apparently secular political parties. They are advised to vote for these parties if they do not wish to be eaten alive by the Hindu fundamentalists, who happen to have a very impressive following in the country.
Sadly, these secular parties have done nothing to lift Muslims from their pothole of primitive madrasa education and abject poverty. They treat Muslims as mere vote banks.
Muslims Not Wanted
Salman Rushdie in his novel The Moor's Last Sigh observed that if somebody hates India, he just needs to destroy Mumbai. We Indians are quite up to the task.
Mumbai is considered to be the most cosmopolitan city of India. In a land where everything is ancient and thousand-years-old, Mumbai stands out as a New World where old identities can be jettisoned to shape a new one. What New York City is to the world, Mumbai is to India. People from all corners and communities of the country are attracted to this dream city for the realization of a better future. Mumbai is said to accept all in its arms.
Do not believe it. It is a myth. If you are a Muslim, no matter how much money you have, you will find it difficult to rent a flat in any respectable middle-class locality. A Muslim in an otherwise-cosmopolitan Mumbai is bound to end up in a ghetto. The story repeats itself in cities like Delhi, too.
Those Dirty Muslims
Muslims are generally deemed by a majority of Hindus as minorities in bigoted nations are usually considered to be: unclean, uneducated, and unpatriotic. But if anyone in the community tries to get himself out from this cliché, he is quickly dumped back to his old place.
So, why not continue to live within the frames of the stereotype picture?
The Culture of Riots
Indian spirit, if vaporized down to its essence, consists of four essentials: Politics, Bollywood, cricket and Hindu-Muslim riots.
According to a 2005 report in TIME magazine, in all the communal riots since independence, official police records reveal that three-quarters of the lives lost and properties destroyed were Muslim.
It would be seriously biased to only blame the Hindus but it is the Muslim community which always suffers the most.
One of the worst tragedies that could have befallen an independent India was not Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, but the 1992 destruction of an abandoned mosque in Ayodhya in North India, which many Hindus believed and still maintain, was built on the ruins of an ancient temple. The event led to riots breaking out between the Hindus and Muslims throughout the country. Thousands of Indians lost their lives. Muslims were the worst victims. The Hindu fundamentalist leaders who were responsible for this tragedy nevertheless came to power in later years. In spite of the blood of innocent people sticking on to their hands, they remain as some of the most respectable politicians today.
Lesson of the story: In India, you can kill innocent Muslim men, rape their women, burn their children and could still become the country's prime minister. A Musslamaan’s life, or death, do not matter in this country, where everybody’s life is cheap anyways.
Justice to Muslims? No!
When Bombay was still not renamed Mumbai by Hindu conservatives, a riot, as a repercussion of the mosque demolition mentioned above, erupted in the city in 1993. Mr Bal Thackeray, the local politician of the city, was believed to have used his speeches to inflame the 'sentiments' of his thuggish partymen who took up the hint by massacring the Muslims in the streets. The Mussalmans were told to go to Pakistan or else…
More than 1000 innocent Muslims were killed.
One could be sure that some semblance of justice would be delivered to the recent blast victims who happened to be mostly Hindus. Some show of punishment would be accorded, this year, next year, or after fifteen years, to the perpetrators of that heinous attack. But as for the daylight murder of the 1000 Muslims, no justice has been provided yet. There has been not even a single conviction for the murder of thousands of Muslims. Mr Bal Thackeray has meanwhile retired from active politics and is expected to die a respectable natural death.
More Stories of Inhumanity and Injustice
In 2002, the wealthy state of Gujarat (ironically Mahatma Gandhi's home state) witnessed the first live televised riots of Indian history. More than 2000 Muslims were killed in order to avenge the burning of 58 Hindus in a train compartment. The then political party that was governing the state during the time of the riots and which had encouraged this massacre was later re-elected to power by the Hindu majority as a thank-you gift for teaching a good lesson to those Muslims.
It was like Adolf Hitler being re-elected after the Final Solution by the jubilant Aryan Germans.
The Gujarat government, which markets itself as the icon of Hindu pride, had even went so far as to price Muslim lives below those of Hindus, offering $2,050 in state compensation for Muslims killed but doubling that amount for those 58 Hindus.
Besides, the government of that state continues to adopt aggressive postures to deny justice to the Muslim victims of the riot.
If these are not good reasons for the Islamists terrorist to increase their rank and numbers, then what else could be?
India Shies Away
Following the London subway blasts, the British authorities there prepared a comprehensive study titled Report of the Official Account of Bombings in London on 7 July to find out the conditions and causes which prompted otherwise decent middle-class young Muslim men to carry out terrorist attacks. The effort was not to serve an excuse for the Muslims but to identify the areas that create a breeding ground for such acts.
However India doesn’t want this kind of introspection. Any public personality who tries to rationalize the possibility of violent discrimination against Muslims as a cause for the induction of Muslim men among the Jehadi terrorist groups is instantly hooted as pseudo-seculars, Muslim-appeasing and unpatriotic citizens who are bent on destroying the country's fair name.
It is as if the country doesn’t want to remind itself that its earlier sins could come back to haunt its soul.
Strictly For Dummies – A Chemical Formula for Detecting Terrorism
So, according to the accepted wisdom in India, a train blast is always a terrorist attack. But the killing of innocent people by swords and tridents is not. The Hindu massacring of the Muslims is merely a communal riot, an internal problem. But the Muslim blasting of Hindus is of course one more instance of international terrorism.
But the Accepted Wisdom is turning to Reality; Our Muslims are Changing…Now
Indian columnists always boasted that their Muslims are decent and civilized. They do not associate themselves with Al Qaeda. They were not in the 9/11 hijack team. They were never a part of the Talibani barbarians. They were not terrorists.
However, the world is changing, and so are our Muslims. Pakistan could be blamed for every terrorist act taking place in Indian cities but it so happens that educated, English-speaking, computer-literate, Muslim men are nowadays planting the bombs and setting the timers in trains and buses. And they are home-grown Indians. And no, they have never traveled to Pakistan or Afghanistan for indoctrination.
India itself suffices.
The Coming Scare
Indian Muslims have begun to pay attention to bin Laden broadcasts in Al Jazeera. They think he makes sense when he rants about injustice and powerlessness and arrogance of the empires. They look around and they nod their heads understandingly. Muslim children are being killed. Yes. Islam is in danger. Yes. Muslims are the victims. Oh, yes. The roots of the rage are growing right under the bloodied soil of this nation. How True.
Indian passport is destined to be a problem in the airports of the western world. Very soon.