Among the many responses to the gruesome killings in Mumbai has been that of Muslims wearing black bands on Eid-ul-Adha. The act symbolised protest, pain and complete rejection of the killers.
But do Muslims need to go out of their way to proclaim to the world that the community does not endorse terrorism and are as angry and disgusted with what is happening as other communities in India? To have worn black bands on Eid was a touching gesture, akin to, say, Hindus doing the same on Diwali. But somehow, as a Hindu, I am disturbed to find my close friends having to wear bands to show their solidarity with the rest of India.
I can understand why India’s Muslims feel the need to do so. In the world we live in today, they are increasingly feeling threatened that they may be targeted, as they often have been in the past, by a violent ‘Hindu reaction’. However much secularists may say that terrorism has no religion, we know that sectarian violence in the subcontinent culminated in the Partition and a blood-bath unparalleled in the history of the world.
I know the increasing disquiet felt by some of my Muslim friends each time a terrorist attack takes place. There is no doubt that the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the Mumbai riots that followed and the 2002 Gujarat genocide have alienated the community. With the fact that those who committed these crimes are yet to be convicted, the sense of hurt is even greater.
When a terror attack takes place, the surnames of most of the perpetrators turn out to be common to those of ordinary Muslims. When Hindu surnames surfaced after investigations into the blasts in Nanded, Malegoan, Ajmer and the Samjhauta Express, many Hindus reacted in disbelief and anger. I, like most from my community, am deeply upset that some minorities among Hindus could be terrorists and that their dastardly acts are being supported by a political party.
But as an Indian I feel embarrassed to find one community having to wear ‘India’ on their sleeves, when we have all expressed our solidarity to fight this war together. I would feel humiliated if a day comes when, as a Hindu, I will have to wear black bands to proclaim to the world that I have nothing to do with Hindu surnames involved in acts of terror.
To my Muslim friends, all I can say is thanks for doing what you have done. But please don’t do it again. We are together in this fight against terror and for justice.