(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
If there is one country besides Pakistan which draws hiss and roar from India, it is Turkey and a series of unprecedented measures by New Delhi in recent times lends credence to such a startling impression.
Not only India has put off a scheduled visit of its prime minister Narendra Modi, it has also shelved a mouth-watering Indian navy contract with a Turkish company. It has issued an advisory to Indian tourists to exercise “utmost caution” while touring Turkey and it mouthed fire when Istanbul put boots in northern Syria last month.
What’s wrong between the two countries which historically stood by each other in the past? It was Turkey which gave refuge to Indian clerics when colonialists Britain cracked down on India’s war of independence in 1857. A half century on, Mahatma Gandhi took up the Khilafat movement on behalf of the Ottoman Empire as it was being cut to pieces by the British in 1919. Turkey was one of the first nations to recognize India on its independence in 1947. Indeed, there are over 9,000 words which are common in the language of the two countries.
Fast forward to present times: Turkey was one of those rare nations who used the United Nations platform to internationalize the Kashmir issue this year. India hit back by snuggling up to leaders of Armenia, Cyprus and Greece which have long-standing border disputes with Turkey. The bilateral trade, which grew by one-third between 2016-2018, is reeling as the two bare teeth at each other. The chill befuddles the innocent for Turkey is a geographical marvel, straddling East and West and India is an economic candy which has the world lining up on its door. Both have ample reasons to find each other attractive.
The timeline of discord
The timeline of discord would show that it all began at the beginning of the Cold War when Turkey and Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact, or CENTO (Central Treaty Organization), initiated by the United States and India assumed the leadership of newly-freed Colonial outposts, the Non-Aligned group, under the benign protection of Soviet Union. The wheels came off in due course with Turkey standing firmly behind Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and thwarting India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for a long time.
It would appear Turkey has given India a clutch of reasons to worry about, as a wounded deer would about encircling wolves. It all stems from president Recep Tayyip Erdogan endlessly gazing in the mirror and watching the heir of Ottomon Empire, the saviour of Muslim civilization, peer back at him. It makes him take up the causes from Palestine to Kashmir to Xinjiang, build mosques from Asia to Africa to Latin America and spend a fortune in restoring Ottoman heritage around the world.
India, hosting 200 million Muslims in its bosom – the third largest such concentration in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan – and is a natural target. Turkey thus takes up the Kashmir cause with gusto, openly siding with Jamaat-e-Islami, a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist party, which has notorious Hizbul Mujahideen as its militant wing that causes unending cycle of violence and terror in Kashmir Valley. No wonder Turkey is a cause célèbre among Kashmiri separatists such as Hurriyat and Erdogan’s victory in presidential elections last year led to huge celebrations in Kashmir.
Turkey plays host to extremist Indian Muslim preachers such as Zakir Naik who delivered a speech to an Islamist group, run by Erdogan’s son Bilal, in 2017. Naik had fled to Malaysia after his name cropped up after a ghastly terrorist attack in a Dhaka cafe in 2016 which left 29 dead. Modi has made a personal request to Malaysia for Naik’s extradition to India.
Turkey further runs the South Asia Strategic Research Centre (GASAM) with an aim to export Erdogan’s Islamist ideology to his audience of millions of Muslims in Pakistan and India. Erdogan thinks he has a headstart over arch-enemy Saudi Arabia on Indian Muslims: One, both Indian and Turkish Muslims are not Arabs; Two, both follow the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam which is different from Wahhabism, the forte of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and Muslim leadership
Turkey doesn’t need much to woo Pakistan. It already has Pakistan eating out of its hand as it saves the latter from international sanctions such as FATF (Financial Action Task Force), gives a global platform for its Kashmir pitch and firms up its economy. That Pakistan is also the only Islamist country which is a nuclear power helps. Pakistan further pays its dues by siding with Turkey as the latter looks to take over leadership mantle from Saudi Arabia in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Turkey and Saudi Arabia of course are sworn rivals. It’s a rivalry steeped in history. It were the Ottoman Turks who engineered the fall of first Wahhabi empire in the 19th century. Ottomon Empire itself was dismantled, 100 years later. The Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, on his part, referred to Turkey as a triangle of evil, along with Iran and Islamic extremists. That Saudi Arabia is now a trusted and productive ally of India hasn’t served to dilute Turkey’s antagonism.
Thus India and Turkey have a long bridge to mend but both are kept apart by the rapids of toxicity which runs between them. Both have reasons to erect fences but not one motive to share the couch over a hot cup of coffee.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Millions of Indians mourn such tragedies. But those vocal, be it on print, web or TV, view it from religious prisms: The divide is between Muslims-unsafe vs. Hindus- wronged. Politicians and media profit, not the nation.
The question today is: Can India afford to be divided along the communal lines? If it comes to pass, who should be held responsible? Could India as a nation then survive?
We have a prototype answer to all these questions. India was divided along the communal lines in 1947; Those who created divisions, in this case British, were responsible; India lost its’ eastern and western limbs in its quest for survival.
Do we want a repeat of it in the near future? If not, how this slide need be stopped? Should another round of Partition, at the cost of millions killed, raped and displaced, must happen again?
It all begins from those who set the narrative. British did it in decades leading to the independence: Assembly elections were held along the communal lines: Muslim candidate for Muslim constituency. Then began the chorus: what would happen to minority Muslims once we leave the Indian shores. Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah were thus armed to severe India of its limbs. The resultant tragedy of Partition has few parallels in human history.
India has survived another Partition thus far. But the same narrative is reappearing: Muslims are insecure; their culture, language and religion is in danger; majority Hindus would be the oppressors.
If it were the British who fed this narrative in pre-independence era, its media and break-India forces which is fanning the fire in our times. As oppressor Hindus was the theme before the Partition, so is the theme in our times.
Occasionally, the likes of Sadhvi Pragya and Giriraj Singh play into the hands of such forces. At times, “saffron terror” is cooked up like it nearly did in the tragic 26/11 in Mumbai. Lynchings become part of leitmotif to stoke fears of oppressive Hindu majority.
Celebrities and cinestars jump in to serve their eternal desire of being in news. Writers and scientists sign petitions in orchestrated campaigns. Data, like Lokniti-CSDN, survey how many Muslims and Christians have voted for BJP; Castes are divided into sub-castes and further sub-castes as Mayawatis, Akhilesh Yadavs and Lallu Prasads feed themselves fat on its harvests. Important magnets, like Western media and prized economists, all are part of the ecosystem which want India to go up in flames.
Hindus and Muslims do have different language and culture. But both are Indians. And a majority do see themselves as Indians. The minority are Asaduddin Owaisi who incites with the call of Karbala or Niranjan Jyoti who divides with “ramzada” vs “haramzada” quip. Hang them out to dry. As you do with the despicable dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies who are at the beck and call of divisive forces (read casteist, Left and dynastic parties); and foreign-funded NGOs
Let this be a checklist for Muslims:
- We have always been made to feel insecure even as more people greet us on Eid than those who abuse us; (b) That there is no word as “minority” in Indian constitution, all are Indians; (c) That if “secularism” means denying a Muslim destitute woman (Shah Bano) her rights and reversing the judgment of Supreme Court, then such secularism must be exposed; (d) That if Hindu consolidation has happened around emotive Ram Temple issue, it was stoked by Congress and not BJP/RSS; (e) That for every Akhlaq, Pehlu and Junaid, there are tens and dozens of Hindu victims at the hands of Muslims which go unreported; (f) That if BJP doesn’t opt for a Muslim candidate, it doesn’t matter as long as the elected representative is fair to everyone in his constituency: be it roads, electricity, toilets, gas, health, education, all is available to Muslims as it is to Hindus; (g) That if Muslims are economically backward, it’s not because of Hindus but perhaps the reason lies in lack of scientific temper in Madarsa education; and less than fair freedom to women.
Let this be a checklist for Hindus:
- Indian constitution doesn’t favour Muslims; it allows them to run their institutions THEMSELVES not by the government; (b) If Muslims are subsidized for Haj, so are Hindu pilgrims provided for in magical Kumbh melas; (c) True, Indian history is distorted and neither Congress nor Left intellectuals have been fair to Hindus but it’s no excuse to substitute that anger against a common Muslim; (d) True, a dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies only report crimes against Muslims, often hoax, but they have been left thoroughly exposed in the last five years; their credibility in tatters thanks to a vigorous social media; (e) Congress and Left, two parties who stoked fears in Muslims and Dalits, are today the outcasts of Indian political system; (f) That Hindu consolidation must not happen at the cost of Muslim alienation: that we don’t want new nations in Bengal or Kerala or Tamil Nadu and its’ attendant costs; (g) That for every Zakir Naik and Burhan Wani, there is also a Muslim boatman who gives up his life but saves tourists from drowning in Jhelum in Srinagar.
We have a choice to make if want to be Hindus or Muslims or Indians. We ought to ask ourselves if we don’t mind another Partition and its horrific cost. We ought to boycott a Naseeruddin Shah or a Kamal Haasan; A Javed Akhtar or a Shabana Azmi; A Swara Bhaskar or a Prakash Raj who are selective in their outrage. The same ought to happen to a Niranjan Jyoti or Asaduddin Owaisi. We ought to outcast a Shekhar Gupta or a Rajdeep Sardesai; a Sagarika Ghose or a Barkha Dutt if the only crime they see is against Muslims; We need to stop an Indian Express or The Hindu from entering into our drawing rooms if all they can see is crime against a Dalit or a Muslim.
These are small forces. Pygmies in front of a nation of 1.30 billion. Should these handful be allowed to decide if we stay together or apart? Would you blame them if tens and thousands of us are butchered and raped in Partition 2.0?
Muslims need be confident this is their India too. Before you blame others, you must ask if your education and matter of equality to women etc need a relook. As Maulana Azad once addressed them: You can’t be drowned and defeated by anyone else but yourself. Don’t hide behind the cloak of “minority” and “secularism”. Don’t seek privileges; you are no different than any other Indian. Rely on self. Those who speak for your safety and stoke your fears, couldn’t care less for you.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
National Investigation Agency (NIA) is raiding alleged Jihadi/terrorists hideouts in Kerala and it must have the attention of citizens of India.
Following leads from Sri Lanka where a horrific Jihadi attack in Churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday killed over 250 people, NIA has raided three locations in Kasaragod and Palakkad and have targeted three youth who are believed to have links with the 20-odd youths from Kerala who had left for Afghanistan to join Islamic State (IS) in 2016.
Indeed of around 100 Indian radicalized youths who have joined Islamic State (IS), at least half of them have come from Kerala. The southern state, which supplies labour forces in millions to Muslim countries, has geographical proximity to Gulf states which are known transit points to IS-held areas. The growing radicalization of youth in Kerala is for real.
India’s mainline newspapers have their reporters on ground in Sri Lanka but none have picked up the lead that National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), the group behind Lanka terror attacks, is an ideological offspring of Saudi-funded Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ) which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent times. It is this Indian group which helped establish the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaat from which the bomber outfit NTJ has emerged as a splinter group.
Zaharan Hashim, the NTJ leader, was inspired by fugitive Indian preacher Zakir Naik’s radical sermons and received funds from Indian jihadists, as noted security expert Brahma Chellaney has recently asserted. There is an immediate need for the Indian state to outlaw TNTJ.
But the passivity of our newspapers in reporting Jihadi activities not only in Kerala but also in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, no less in Kashmir Valley, ought to have the nation worried. When newspapers don’t warn of dangers, commoners aren’t jolted to alertness. Subsequently attacks happen, communal divide grows and nation is broken into pieces. Who knows for sure if this is innocence or strategic indifference???
Islamic State (IS) which is on the run in Middle East, ousted from Syria and Iraq, are making South Asia their prime targets as repeated attacks in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and now in Sri Lanka, betray their strategy to rope in converts to the cause of their radical Islamic doctrine. As against Al-Qaeda which desists from attacks of religious kind, IS clearly is looking to foment communal polarization in Indian sub-continent to misguide and swell up their ranks.
It could have grave consequence but the trouble is West Bengal and Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to an extent, are running their own diktats. Most are resisting investigations by Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and other probe agencies such as Intelligence Bureau (IB), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (I-T) among others.
Bengal should be uppermost in the minds of security agencies since infiltrators in lakhs have crossed from across the Bangladesh borders in recent years and a spate of alleged scams, the complicity of state police, and remarks of Supreme Court on a “grave issue” behind these murky affairs point towards an impending crisis.
Recently threatening posters of Islamic State (IS) in Bengali language have emerged, leading Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP in-charge of West Bengal, to comment that “Islamic State can enter West Bengal anytime…because of her (Mamata Banerjee) appeasement politics that people related to terror activities have made their base in the border-states…”
It is no secret that IS has a huge presence in Bangladesh, as evidenced by spate of bomb attacks in last six years, and it has a known affiliate in Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) from across our eastern borders.
Sri Lanka had not suffered any Jihadi attack until now. Al Qaeda launched its first attack in Yemen almost four years after it was formed and has now spread to other countries in Middle East. India has all the makings of a prime target of Jihadi forces, now that they are on the run in Middle East. Experts view that the dubious role of media in these security threats is for real. They give partisan and ethically problematic coverage which leads to polarization in society.
(Just look at this lead headline on Indian Express front page today: “Muslim residents raised first alert about terror” in Sri Lanka. What is the need to identify alert-citizens by their religion? Does it help reduce the threat of Jihadi terrorists? Why try to portray a manicured garden when the wild offshoots are running amok???).
You might be aware of details but they bear a recount before I stress that reformation of Islam can no longer be swept under the carpet in the name of “Islamophobia.”
Sri Lanka’s spice king Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim and his third son are now under detention in Sri Lanka. Two of his sons, Ahmed Ibrahim (33) and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim (31) were suicide bombers who blew up dozens in two of Colombo’s five-star hotels—Shangri La and Cinnamon on Sunday. In between, Ilham’s wife Fathima set off a bomb which killed her three children and herself as police raided their luxury home in Deamatogoda.
Another member of the family, millionaire’s son Ismail, became a fugitive after Sri Lanka forces discovered stockpiles of explosives at a compound in Wanathawillua where it is now believed Easter Sunday’s terrorists were trained. Police got onto Ismail’s trail after his involvement to destroy Buddhist shrines at Anuradhapura came to light last year.
This is not a poor family. They were the creamy layer of the island’s political deities. Sri Lanka had been good to them. Yet not one but all of them were sold to the ideology of hate and violence. How can now the Liberals of the world say that Islamic terrorists are the outcome of social and political oppression? Wasn’t Osama bin Laden a billionaire? Or the 9/11 bombers were filthy rich? If oppression makes Jihadi Muslims take to violence, how come other sufferers at the hands of “Satan US” haven’t turned into demons?
The longer free world keeps denying the violent ideology of Islam, farther we would be from rescuing Islam from itself. Just look at Islamist terror attacks around the world in the last dozen years, the Wikipedia entries run into scores of sheets, and you would have idea our denial is leaving behind a bloodied path for our children and grandchildren.
The adherents of Islam today number around 1.6 billion people or a quarter of humanity. Only 3 per cent of them are said to have violent leanings. That’s around 50 million individuals/families. Yet they have left the rest of over a billion peace-loving Muslims completely paralyzed. The moderate Muslims have no leadership. The reformist Muslims—such as Muhammad Taha, Irshad Manji, Maajid Nawaz, Abd al-Hamid Al-Ansari and Zuhdi Jasser among others (follow if not fund them)—are buried into obscurity by the Liberal world.
Yet this minuscule group of 50 million is adding thousands almost every month. The UN estimates in 2014, some 15,000 foreign fighters from at least 80 nations travelled to Syria to join radical jihadists. The Ibrahim family is a case in study. Tens of hundreds of youths of all nationalities and colour are being brainwashed by local networks before they are packed to Iraq, Pakistan and Bangladesh branches of Jihadi Islamists who then return and unleash terror in their home nations. This in turn further sinks peaceful local Muslims into a ghetto mindset, damaging generation upon generation, many of whom are easy pickings for violent ideology.
Why do I say Iraq, Pakistan and Bangladesh? Why local networks of Islamic State (IS)? What’s the fallout on local Muslims?
Let’s take the example of Sri Lanka terror attacks itself. Intelligence points to the role of a Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba charity, Idara Khidmat e Khalq, in the attacks. It has been radicalizing Sri Lanka Muslim youths since 2004. One of the suicide bombers received training in Pakistan. Jammat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terror group, through its Indian branch, is accused of pushing fake Indian currency and gathering classified information on India. Zakir Naik (yes, the same Naik who has vocal powerful supporters in India’s public space) has often given his virulent lectures in Sri Lanka.
A Pew study of opinions in the Muslim world shows how many in these countries hold extremist views. Three-quarters of Pakistanis and more than two-fifths of the Bangladeshis and Iraqis feel that those who leave Islam should be put to death. More than 80 percent of Pakistanis and two-thirds of Bangladeshis and Iraqis regard Sharia law as the revealed word of God. Only a tiny fraction would allow their daughters to marry Christians. Only a small number regard honour killings of women as unjustified. A quarter of Bangladeshi and one in eight Pakistanis regarded suicide bombings as legitimate.
The fallout on local Muslims is palpable in Sri Lanka. Reports say that Pakistani refugees in Sri Lanka are being subjected to violent attacks and are fleeing. Muslims in rented houses are being evicted by resentful neighbours.
Yet our Liberals are in complete denial. I doubt if you have read the above information in your newspapers. Instead, the apologists are sweet-liming the theory that Sri Lanka happened in retaliation to shootings in Christchurch. There is no admission that it’s violent Islam and its front-runners who are refusing to let a 7th century religion conform to realities of 21st century.
Somalian Muslim reformist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that Prophet Muhammad had two distinct phases of his life: (a) when he was wandering from door to door in Mecca and pleading to convert the local populace; (b) when he went to Medina and adopted a political philosophy to his creed.
Hirsi Ali classifies the Muslims of the world into three groupings: (1) Medina Muslims, the violent adherents; (2) Mecca Muslims or the peaceful ones; (3) and Modifying Muslims or the reformists.
Hirsi Ali suggests five essential reforms for Islam:
- Prophet Muhammad’s semi-divine and infallible status and the literalist reading of the Quran, particular the parts which were revealed in Medina;
- Investment in life after death instead of life before death;
- Sharia, the body of legislation derived from the Quran, the hadith and the rest of Islamic jurisprudence;
- The practice of empowering individuals to enforce Islamic law;
- The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war
The Islamist attacks in Sri Lanka are first of a kind in the island nation. India has long suffered from such violent attacks. But our Liberals and disgraceful media never allow a truthful discourse. They are also so much hand in gloves with the Marxists: A perfect example is a Muslim persecution in Xinjiang by China – yet our media, which takes out Mombatti jaloos (candle procession) on one unfortunate lynching, wouldn’t utter a word. You would have justifications for Zakir Naik, Rohingyas or state terror in Kashmir, Bengal and Kerala but never a word for Hindu refugees from Kashmir or those persecuted Hindu minorities who are being driven away in lakhs from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. They would never utter a word against the practice of “Triple Talaq” and “nikah halala.” They would never promote a debate on Quran which is the first step in weeding out its ills. To term 100s of Islamic terrorist attacks as acts of individuals would never allow a hard look at its ideology.
That’s what makes them so dangerous. That’s what makes Indian Muslims believe they are the persecuted lot in India. That’s what makes them resentful against Indians and affect the perception on their commitment to the nation.
From an Indian perspective, I believe the Lanka terror attacks hold a very important message for Indian Muslims. They must enforce a debate on Islam from within. There’s no gain hiding behind a cloak of persecution complex, however hard our disgraceful media tries to weave the deceit. Things are not worse than they ever were for them in independent India. Their one act of support for the majority’s legitimate demands would earn them unaccountable respect from the masses. BJP or Congress, none would be able to leave them by the wayside. No Asaduddin Owaisi would be able to manipulate them. The choice is theirs.