Thursday, March 16, 2006


Dangerous illusions, destructive indulgences
T R Jawahar

Muslims have a particular responsibility because these
extremists are part of their community. We do not mind
where people come from, as long as they become
Australians. We went through a period in the 1980's
and '90s of sort saying, we can build a federation of
cultures in this country. You can't. You've got to
have a dominant culture. Ours is Anglo-Saxon our
language, our literature, our institutions. But you
can be part of the mainstream culture and still have a
place in your life and your heart for your home
country': Thus spake the Aussie PM, John Howard, in an
interview to Time magazine last week. Newsweek, in an
article captioned, 'The End of Tolerance' the same
week, has this to say of recent trends in Europe:
Europe is everywhere on the defensive ... But make no
mistake, Europeans are no longer willing to tolerate a
European melting pot - a broadly multicultural society
- where different cultures live by widely different
cultural norms ... past models of integration have
failed ... this see-no-evil attitude was wishful

But alas, secular India, does not want to see or hear
any evil, even when it manifests itself loud and
clear, as in Varanasi. Cartoon bombs do not go off,
but live bombs do! Which is worse? And, are blasts in
temples thronged by devotees during auspicious days
and hours, less blasphemous? The cartoons may have
hurt feelings, but the bombs killed and maimed scores.
And Varnasi is as holy to Hindus as Mecca is to
Muslims. The sight of blood and gore of the victims on
the temple Praharas and the teeming security men in
places of worship were all grim reminders of where
secular India has finally arrived.
But adding insult to injury are the 'secular'
politicos, the mainline media and sundry other
self-styled intellectuals issuing lofty statements
calling for calm and advising restraint to the lambs
even as the wolves are on the rampage. The marked
reticence to utter the phrase 'Islamic terror' was
matched only by the spontaneous spurt of concern about
'Hindu communal forces'. To these dense minds, even
self-defence would seem communal and legitimate
protests be deemed political. After all, does not the
law of the jungle ordain that the carnivores should
eat up the herbivores? India's secular rulebook sounds
strikingly similar!

So, should the entire Muslim community be held
responsible for the acts of a few monsters? Readers
are advised to read, re-read and repeatedly read the
first para, word by word, line by line and even
between the lines! The message is clear: The West does
not want to take chances, be numbed by secular
courtesies or 'wishful' thinking and entertain hopes
of integration. 'Just in case', is the reigning motto.
In fact, in most European nations there is an
increasing assertion of the 'dominant' culture, even
at the official level and laws are being re-written so
that Muslims cannot any longer live by their own rules
dictated by the Shariat or whatever. Says a Dutch High
Court Judge: We demand a new social contract ...we
demand they stop bringing in young brides from the
desert and locking them up in third-floor apartments.
Period. The West has woken up with a start. But dawn
appears to have skipped Bharat on its westward march.

See what official India is doing instead - quotas in
government jobs, headcount in the army, special status
and endless privileges. The overwhelming political
dictum is that nothing should be done to hurt Muslim
sentiment. The indulgences are even retrospective with
history textbooks altered to shed references to Mughal
atrocities; for Indian children, barbarians like Babar
and Aurangazeb would now seem like saints. And all
this in the face of clear evidence that such
appeasement only feeds and furthers Muslim
exclusivism. Little wonder, they have taken such
deference for granted. For instance, will the Muslims
countenance a roll back of the Haj subsidy, even if it
is purely on economic considerations? Or the prospect
of a common civil code? India would be on fire then.

Such pandering has become India's national policy
owing to certain illusions, not just with the
vote-conscious politicos but even among the non-Muslim
populace. The foremost illusion is that Islam can
co-exist with other faiths. But for most Muslims, even
the so-called moderates, religion is first and
non-negotiable, unlike other communities that can
think outside the perimeter of their faith. Sober
Muslim voices are easily silenced by the sabre. So the
world has little choice but react only to the hot
heads, because it is their writ that runs in Islam.
Who is to blame for the Islamophobia? Now with liberal
Europe drawing the line, what should India do?

First, is there any meaningful debate about Islam in
India? There will be if we are ready to brave bombs
and bullets! Indian's cultural schism with Islam is
very deep and wide. Hindus may gloss over it, but
Muslims don't. For instance, the Muslim ire over the
cartoons is more for the very depiction of their
prophet than the way he has been depicted, because
Islam condemns idol worship. Now the huge mass of
Indians worship idols and they have a rationale for
that. What do they do when what is sacred to them is
inherently blasphemous in Islam? Break the idols
themselves before they are bombed out by jihadis? Or
consider cow slaughter, which offends the religious
sensibilities of the Hindus who constitute over 80% of
the population. Whose will should prevail in a
democracy? But is that will enforceable in secular,
democratic India? Why are not the Muslims urged to
show some secular deference?

Another illusion perpetrated by secular spin doctors:
The terrorists want to tear India's secular fabric.
Hogwash! From Ghori to Gajjini and Jinnah to jihadis,
India is targetted because it is deemed a Hindu
nation, a land of kafirs and not because it is a
secular nation. The terror manuals of LeT, JEM etc
plainly declare that Hindu India has no right to
exist, just as Iran has vowed to wipe out Israel.
Naive Indians may feel secure with their secular
status, but that is no innoculation against the jehadi
virus and instead only destroys their immune system!
Your friendly Muslim neighbour is powerless against
those violent elements. Much less our secular State or
the sundry secularists, who abound in print,
prime-time and politics. Rather, they too, the Arjun
Singhs and N.Rams, are as much kafirs as Togadias or
Advanis, in the jihadi's eyes! Communal or secular,
kafirs will share a common nemesis! The killers are
quite clear in their minds! Only the sheep has wool
over its eyes but that will not save its head anyway!

The solution? Europe shows the way. The onus of
integration and coexistence should be on the Muslims.
Hindu -Muslim unity must cease to be a Hindu project,
rather it should be a Muslim endeavour. Being a
democracy, the 80% should determine the norms as well
as the tolerance levels, because it is their history,
heritage, symbols, land, life and limb that are at
stake. What's good for them is good for the country.
No Muslim exclusivity can be guaranteed, if it seeks
to violate those norms or cross those limits. Islam
cannot be obliged at the expense of the belief system
of the bulk of Indians. At any rate, not with guns
pointed at the temple and bombs in Temples! And the
larger Muslim community, in their own interest, cannot
remain aloof to the machinations of Mullahs and
maulvis or the monstrosities of the militants, who
all claim inspiration from Islamic injunctions and
seek to act on their behalf. But irrespective of that,
non-Muslim India should shed its genetic coyness and
gentle courtesies and instead get cautious! If getting
careful is communal, then so be it!

But most important: The Muslim vote should not become
the Muslim veto!
e-mail the writer at


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