Marine le Pen
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s not just France. It’s all over Europe. States might not have said it as openly as Emmanuel Macron of an “Islamist danger” but the rise of Islamophobia in the Old World is relentless. If you think sitting in Delhi or Mumbai keeps you a world away, it’s a dangerous delusion.
Let’s first speak in defence of Islam. Twenty years ago, West waged a “War on Terror”. Muslims could never rest in peace thereafter. My book “How United States Shot Humanity” details their tragedy. We don’t have to go to Crusades. Just two decades back is enough. Innocents died in far greater number than the dreaded; families in millions were uprooted; defenceless and homeless they headed for Europe; some could make it, many didn’t. Lives destroyed forever.
And this was not just foreign lands. At home the West set about putting their citizens under surveillance—Muslims far more than others. In Britain, for example, you are more likely to be searched and questioned if you are a Muslim. The air became thick with suspicion.
It struck a chord with Algerians and Pakistanis and Moroccans and Chechan Muslims who had made Europe their home after the Second World War. The Old World had been torn apart by the Big War. It needed rebuilding. Finances came from the United States. Labour from former colonies, many of whom were Muslims. Now they couldn’t see their fellow co-religionists ruined. Much before, thousands had headed from Europe to make cause with Islamic State (IS) in Middle East.
Societies in Europe were alarmed, they became wary of Muslim neighbourhood, discrimination began and the retaliation followed. Right wingers thought they had enemy next door; the feeling was reciprocated by the Next Door. One thing led to another.
The defenders of Islam thus claim their practitioners are being victimized. When State calls it “War on Terror” all Muslims, and not just Radicals, are put on notice. Innocents, living their normal lives, their kids in schools, their men and women in offices, began breathing toxic air. Hotheads take matter in own hands. The stereotype of Terrorism-Is-Islam is reinforced. When veils or Hijabs are banned in public, it’s seen as an attack.
The other side of the divide: Islamophobia
Those who have Islamophobia, have a different take. They can’t understand how could an author (Salman Rushdie) be hounded for years for what he wrote or why people are beheaded for cartoons. “Freedom of Expression” is the founding tenet of modern Western civilization. The State protects it. Its Constitution guarantees it. Are we to believe than that there is a parallel society, a society within society, which follows different tenets and the world knows it as Sharia Law? That they would follow what allegedly is written in their Holy Book and claim lives, walking over the Law of Land.
It doesn’t go with the idea of multiculturism which the West wanted to showcase to humanity. How could “freedom of expression under house arrest,” be acceptable?
For instance, it’s pointed out many Muslims have not tried to learn French in France; that they don’t send their kids to public schools, opting for “madarsas” instead; there is demand for separate swimming pools for their girls; and that’s how “separatism” is injected from the very beginning.
When Macron warns that “the problem is an ideology, which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the Republic,” it shouldn’t lead to condemnation by Erdogans, Imrans and Mahatirs of Islamic world. It doesn’t help. Certainly not your present and future generations who would be drenched in dripping blood. Instead, Macron’s words should lead to real. Just dismissing it as “Islamophobia”—as do “anti-Semitism”—is dangerous and self-defeating. Inclusiveness could only happen if both sides begin looking within.
Even if Islamophobia is decried, there is little doubt it has gained enormous currency in last two decades. You could ignore it but the elephant is in the room. France has 6 million Muslims, more than anyone else in Europe, so we could understand why right-wingers like Marine le Pen have such a persuasive influence. But others are no better. Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the Sweden Democrats for example now hold the narrative.
Half of Germany feels there is a “fundamental contradiction between Islam and German culture. In Italy, the figures is 53%. In Finland a staggering 62%. Political parties have flourished on Islamophobia. Street demonstrations against Islam are everyday.
They call it “Counter-Jihad” ideology. Islamophobia networks have spawned all over. They offer some irrefutable logic: If Islam is not repressive, how do we term its treatment of women. How are we supposed to react to Chopping Squares. How are we to comprehend rulings where evidence, cross-examination and witnesses are dispensable.
Good Muslims would suffer, and I have said it many times, till they don’t oppose the Bad Muslims. Till they tell them that we have all the freedom to practice our religion at home and we are not bothered about others. We won’t take law into hands nor approve if radicals override the established laws. It’s not enough that 99% are good if they are handmaiden to the remaining 1%. The future of Islam is in their own hands. Sense of persecution won’t help. Sense of responsibility would.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
You must not have heard of Samuel Paty. Well, he was the 47-year-old high school teacher who was beheaded in Paris for showing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in classroom on Sunday.
You must not have also known that France is on streets thereafter. Tens of thousands are streaming out on the roads of Paris, Lyon and Marseille (see image above) and its interior minister Gerald Darmanin is vowing to remove “the enemy within.”
Who is there to tell you that France has since conducted dozens of raids, cracked down on aid groups and is moving legislation to expel en masse foreigners of Muslim identity?
It’s a seminal moment in France’s history after Second World War, indeed of Europe, as the Old World, at least for the last two decades, has grappled with the growing Islamism within its ruptured society. France has now lifted the baton—and others would soon. We could all then write editorials on the rise of Right Wing.
Lest you see this as a problem away from home, and can’t see a corollary to the Tanishq ad, you need to pay attention. An advertisement is pulled down for millions of netizens protest on Love-Jihad. Newspapers are aghast. Artistes and advertisers are up in arms. It’s viewed as tyranny of right-wing trolls.
There are no questions if Love-Jihad is for real. That Hindu girls, marrying under Muslim Personal Law, have to convert to Islam. (And it could only happen in Mosque by an Imam). And that Islam considers it an apostasy—punishable by death—if you hide idols of your other “gods” under your closet. And dare the girl resist for under Muslim personal law, she would lose all her rights of property and inheritance.
But such debates never take place. Our newspapers look the other way. No OpEds. No those academicians and activists bristling with outrage. The same as it has happened to Samuel Paty. The same as it happened to Kamlesh Tiwari last year. Or in Bangalore riots more recently. There is an elephant in the room and we are looking away.
Newspapers, who file an RTI for a penny not gone to the account of a UP farmer, don’t probe. They delude themselves that anger of the masses would blow away if they ignore. That’s why be it Tanishq ad or Kamlesh Tiwari or Bangalore riots, there’s no internal debate. The wound festers till it eats away your internals.
That’s what happened in France. Charlie Hebdo in 2015 had shaken them. Samuel Paty has now taken them over the edge. Another Kamlesh Tiwari and this could well be our own fate. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. We could all then blame our newspapers for indifference, our governments for timidity and our judiciary for begging to Shaheen Bagh. Be it Hindus or Muslims, we both are ignoring the approaching steps of doom which would leave no one standing.
Good Indian Muslims, and that’s the majority, are captive to a handful. They must raise themselves and ask for Uniform Civil Code (UCC). They must insist that in India, there could be only two marriage codes: Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act. Muslim Personal Law can’t be its own island. They must not fall for those images and videos of good Muslims which emerge in our media after an excess by their brethren. Like it did in Paris after Samuel Paty (see image below). These are shams and are meant to dress up the deeper rot which is eating up the vitals. Good Muslims don’t need Imams and Mullahs between them and their own Quran. Good Muslims can’t put rights above their duty.
Paris bears a likeness to Hindus. Like sporadic clouds in the sky which give way to cloudburst one fine day, sweeping the life below to drains of death, there are unconnected events which are leading towards a Hindu Collective. Some are unhappy that State controls their temples but not mosques. Some have a grouse that their schools are inhibited but not madarsas. Some cry foul that their religious travels are not subsidized and there is no aid for the marriage of their daughters. Then they prevail on Chhapaak. Then Sadak-2 is sunk even before it sees light. Then Tanishq Ad goes out of circulation. All these are rumblings of a cloudburst.
All this while our media barks up the wrong tree. Trolls and Andbhakts are the villains. The underlying malaise is ignored. A question goes abegging what happens if this power reflected on social media was to translate into our streets. What happens if an Indian Samuel Paty is followed by lakhs on streets, a severe government crackdown and indictment by their leader on “Islamist separatism” (Emmanuel Macron) and call by the equally popular (Marine Le Pen) for “a strategy of reconquest” and that “Islamism is a bellicose ideology whose means of conquest is terrorism.”
Who helps India when it burns? You and I can’t run up to media which chooses Hathras but ignores Lucknow; supports Tanishq Ad but doesn’t delve on Love-Jihad. An opposition run by foggies and discredited which lies through teeth and from both sides of mouth; a Centre which is hemmed in on every step it takes: from Aadhaar to GST to Triple Talaq to Farm Bills. A judiciary which is bound to cave in under the weight of PILs sooner than later.
We all are being swallowed by the inexorable flow of events. We could all be saved by a resolve, a glimmer of which I read this morning
(To be continued)
Does Europe have a future?
The very question signifies a collective entity and in that sense, the answer is an emphatic NO.
The presumption that it also includes Russia and its borderlands—strictly Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan—was already a NO before the question was asked.
Physically, Russia and its borderlands are part of Europe but never considered such by Western Europe or for that matter United States. The subservient mass media ensured it remained the “other” Europe.
Know your Europe, folks.
But this official Europe—defined as a unit by European Union (EU) and Euro—is finished. You could have a chance to offer a formal digital condolence in years to come though within your heart you know its dead.
This seed of destruction was sown in the hubris following the demise of Soviet Union in the 1990s. Both US and Europe wanted to run the world. Their democracy, institutions, trade rules, all stood vindicated. This model needed replicating. They thus sowed the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.
This urge for prototypes led to the creation of European Union. Originally six countries had come together to produce and market steel and coal. But the Maastricht Treaty (1992) led to an overreach which now has 28 members in its fold. The creation of a single currency Euro followed before the 90s were out. The idea was to create a supranational entity with the vision of a political union somewhere in future.
This was the original mistake. European Union had been formed to ride over nationalism. But its new Eastern members had just been out of the Soviet Union umbrella. They wanted more of nationalism. Any decision could become victim of a single veto. Any progress was thus stalled from its very inception.
The EU bosses also hadn’t factored in the mood of citizens who could hold their governments in a bind. More than two-thirds of EU citizens were found by PEW Research Centre to distrust EU. Nearly 70 percent Europeans believed their voices didn’t count in EU.
Tigers and sheeps have an existential issue inside a wall. They never live in harmony, but for in Disney. Germany’s GDP is hundreds of times bigger than that of a Malta. Sweden and Latvia are no match. The hierarchy—and thus the distrust—became obvious. The notion of equality was shown the first door.
The creation of Euro was an original sin. It’s basis was the vision of a future political union–It wasn’t an economic decision by far. All the bosses wanted was a solid integration of history’s “bad boy” Germany into the fold. They also wanted to match dollar. But without political cohesion, it was a no-go from the start.
Ironically, the clever-by-half bosses felt a crisis could actually help forge the political union. They actually welcomed such a situation. Common banking and fiscal policies were thought to usher in a supra-central bank. They just believed a crisis would throw up a solution but had no idea what it could be.
Then came the 2008 financial meltdown. It’s been over seven years now. The deck is still on fire and attempt to douse it by papering over the Euro hasn’t worked. While they worked on saving the boat, a storm raged in not too far-away horizon of Middle East by way of wars and terrorism. Arab Springs, China, Russia, Syria all chipped away at the base. European capitals became unsafe, refugees came flooding in, paranoid and xenophobia bared its fangs.
The paralysis further eroded the confidence in Europe’s future. Germany first welcomed and then withdrew from the refugee problem. Hungary only wanted Christians. Fellow EU members (Croatia vs Hungary for instance) chirped away at each other.
This official Europe had further shot itself in foot on Ukraine. They offered moon to Ukraine but didn’t want to make allowance for Russia’s insecurity at its border. Ukraine almost has now turned into a failed state. As Henry Kissinger famously said: “both(East and West) want to make it an outpost for themselves—whereas it should’ve been a bridge”—or words similar to that effect.
Citizens again were in a disconnect on Ukraine. While Russia was drummed up as a threat, the polls showed that only 4 out of 10 Germans conformed to the viewpoint. And here’s the interesting bit: More than half in Germany, France and Italy believe NATO shouldn’t use weapons against Russia to defend other nations. As Stephen P Malt famously said: “It’s not a message you want to hear if you are an Estonian.”
Simply put, EU wants a European first and a French later. The public view is diametrically opposite. Schengen Visa, an admirable move, is in tatters. The demographic implosion is at hand. Europe’s population is declining at an alarming rate. So is the staggering 25 percent unemployment on average in Eastern and Southern Europe.
If another round of Greek crisis erupts in future—which it would given the austerity regime imposed on it—then all hell would break loose. If Greece quits, EU and Euro could unravel rather quickly. Europe, as it is, is rather uneasy at United States’ “Pivot to Asia.” Not to forget their preoccupation with Syria and Middle East. Their big daddy United State is unhappy on its own part given how eager France and Germany are to sell military hardware to Beijing. The track record of NATO—with its debris in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—hasn’t boosted the morale either.
The biggest challenge above all is Europeans’ complete distrust of their current rulers. There are no bright leaders like Europe had in Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle when Europe was trying to stand on its feet after World War II. The rise of far right parties like National Front of Marine le Pen in France could reach a critical mass.
Yes, Europe has an outstanding ability to reconstruct itself. But to do so, it self-destructs itself regularly.