Second World War

Who’s afraid of Islam? A question Muslims could no longer ignore

(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.

 

If India Burns: This death is a clue but we all can’t hear the footsteps of doom

(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)

 

In case of war, would US rush to India’s defence?

(This is  reprint from NewsBred).

Behind their pandemic-induced masks, Indians have a floating question on their lips: What if China was to pour into India and spank us like it did in 1962.

Columns on military match-ups are box-office hits.  In today’s Mint, weighing scales have measured India and China on nuclear, submarines, armoured vehicles, boots-on-the- ground, everything. It assures readers we are better in inhospitable terrains, fighter jets and in shape thanks to our periodic pounding of Pakistan. It doesn’t look at the weight Pakistan could bring into equation but that’s okay. Indian soldiers are world’s envy for over a century for a reason.

Indians are also hopeful on the United States. That Trump and Modi would look after each other’s backs. This lack-in-self isn’t mindful that India’s nuclear arsenal is deterrent enough. We won’t be rolled over in a conventional war too.  Besides, still don’t have a formal military pact with the United States.

Sure, in last decade and a half, the US administration across presidents, and Indians between their Manmohan and Modi, have resembled two lost brothers who couldn’t have enough of each other. It began with access to military sheets (GSOMIA) but ramped up startingly under the Modi regime. An important threshold crossed was reciprocal logistical support (LEMOA) in 2016; and greater Indian access to US military technology (COMCASA) in 2018. The next stage is a deal for 2021 when US could share advanced satellite, intelligence and topographical information (BECA) with India. It would be huge, but not now.

The United States, as it is, has more military pacts than one could count. In the Indo-Pacific waters itself, it’s committed to come to aid of Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Australia and, a little beyond, New Zealand. Western Europe of course is a Biblical commitment in the form of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). It’s extremely possessive about Central and Latin America and if in doubt, ask a Cuban.  In the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia have the blank cheque of security. Since the Second World War, the United States has committed itself to defend a quarter of the world’s population. All are not cut-and-dried military pacts. But de facto, some 69 countries which is worth 75 per cent of world’s economic output, could claim a security umbrella festooned by Washington D.C.

Formal military pacts are dying trends. It forces counter alliances and the world is lit up in smoke as it happened during the First World War. Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were committed to each other against France and Russia and Great Britain was forging secret alliances of its own in a skullduggery which remarkably has been kept hidden by the historians of Oxford who make up the history narrative of English-speaking schools.

So, sorry folks, a military pact between India and the United States isn’t happening all too soon. If the United States enters the Indian Ocean, be sure that China and Russia would commit themselves in equal measure. The US would have its military cooperation, sea drills and logistical shares with India. It designated India as a major defense partner in 2016 itself. The satellite and intelligence sharing under BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) would be big on its own. It would be a game-changer in communications, navigational and threat assessment. India’s defence exports from the United States are second only to Russia. But don’t mistake it for a joint resistancce against an invader.

We’re in a fluid state. We are not at war with China.  Hotheads could spin it out of control for both, and Pakistan. Looking for the United States or Russia isn’t on the charts spread at military commands of the two Asian giants. Treat the two Cold War antagonists as proteins or steroids in a gym. The heavy-lifting is still left to us. Hopefully the worst is behind us. For the time being.

The lessons for India though are unmistakable. China doesn’t have our good in mind. We would know of the United States too if Russia holds firm and delivers us S400 missile system in 2021. Closer home, we need to free up our armed forces from stifling civil bureaucracy. If they want Rafale, that’s what they get. We have a huge lag and delay is not an option.