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Majority appeasement

I am both amused and terrified as the ‘Hindu terror’ and ‘Muslim terror’ debate rages on. Nothing can be more threatening to a society than religion-based intolerance and injustice. Sadia Dehlvi elaborates.

india Updated: Nov 25, 2008 20:00 IST

I am both amused and terrified as the ‘Hindu terror’ and ‘Muslim terror’ debate rages on. Emotions sway between laughter and tears when some leaders talk of ‘Hindu persecution in India’ and make a distinction between terror crimes allegedly committed by members of the majority community and those committed allegedly by Muslims. Nothing can be more threatening to a society than religion-based intolerance and injustice.

In hushed whispers, Muslims have been expressing doubts over ‘jehadi’ elements in some cases — especially in the Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Malegaon blasts. They cannot understand why Muslims would want to blow up Muslims during Ramzan at the dargah in Ajmer or during a venerated Islamic night in Malegaon. They wonder why these culprits don’t realise that such despicable acts further damage perceptions of Islam and its followers, besides creating more trouble for Indian Muslims.

However, every terror blast has seen Muslims cutting across party and religious lines publicly condemning the attacks. In a commendable move, Muslim religious bodies have unanimously joined hands in declaring terrorists as apostates, appealing to Muslims that to achieve perfection of faith, they must live by the Quran, the Hadith (the Prophet’s sayings) and the Indian Constitution. They are spreading the message of abandoning the idea of ‘jehad’ as a militant struggle and
emphasising its meaning as an inner struggle that requires adhering to the highest ethical standards.

In a reversal of roles, would it be justified for Muslims to publicly question the talk of alleged Muslim terrorists as ‘political conspiracies’? The same BJP that lauded the role of the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) in nailing Muslim terrorists now accuses it of inefficiency in the case of Hindus accused of hatching terror plots.

The ‘Where is the moderate Muslim?’ media debate has fatigued Indian Muslims. Why should the onus of proving one’s loyalty to India fall on Muslims alone? Why must Muslims be put through a trial by fire to prove good citizenship? Why do we not see protest marches and vocal condemnation of what is now being called ‘saffron terror’? Scores of intellectuals chose not to comment after Muslims were massacred in the Gujarat riots, despite the emergence of substantial evidence highlighting the role of the state in sponsoring terrorism. Can we conclude that the majority community appears to be in a ‘denial mode’, a term often used to define the mood of Indian Muslims with regard to terrorism?

When Mushirul Hasan, the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Islamia University, extended legal support from university funds to its students accused of terror crimes, ugly remarks of ‘supporting terror’ were hurled at him. This occurred despite Hasan’s unequivocal condemnation of terrorists, coupled with a reputation of contributing to the promotion of secular ideals.

The rampant discrimination, unwarranted arrests, harassment and biases continue to make everyday life an ongoing struggle for Indian Muslims. I have no truck with any political party, for none of them has remotely attempted to heal Muslim wounds or ensure they swim along with the tide of development in India. Contrary to the ‘appeasement’ theories, the story of India’s Muslims is a tragic script, one that we are quite accustomed to living.

(Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer)