Thursday, December 21, 2017

Can India's Hindu Majority Be Entitled To Say It Has Grievances?

Our left-liberal friends never tire telling us about how the Indian Muslims joining the ranks of jihadist terror outfits are often victims of Hindu extremist violence, but can’t the same logic be applied the other way round too? Isn’t it possible that many of the Hindu extremists engaging in violence against innocent Muslims could have been victims of Muslim extremist violence by way of terrorist attacks or riots?

Violent Muslim extremism with the Indian Mujahidin, Indian Muslims joining the ISIS and Al Qaeda, vandalism in Malda, Muslim extremists killing Hindus in riots (including even the Gujarat riots of 2002, which weren't one-sided even after the Godhara train-burning), often instigated by hate speeches by leaders like Azam Khan and the Owaisi brothers, DOES EXIST in India (not only in Pakistan). The prospect of Hindu Majoritarianism taking an absolute fascist form to extinguish democracy some day or even taking us anywhere considerably close to that, as worrisome as it is for me, doesn't mean that if Muslim extremism can't dominate the country, the damage to Hindus' life and limb shouldn't still be a matter of as much concern for everyone, and communalism under one banner feeds communalism under the other; so, a genuine fight against communalism can never be selective.

I sincerely wish that a lot of left-liberals opposing negative stereotyping of Muslims (something I completely support) were equally careful to not make instances of Hindu extremism sound like "almost every average Hindu is out to get you, Muslims", such as by labelling our country as 'lynchistan' (when very many Muslims lead regular lives alongside Hindu friends, and Muslims from weak economic backgrounds have gone on to make it big in India, some examples including APJ Abdul Kalam, Irfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan and several Indian Muslim entrepreneurs) or be okay with even lying about having been complete denial of justice for Muslim victims of hate crimes. Hundreds of Hindu extremists have rightly been convicted in the Gujarat riots for massacres in Ode, Sadarpura, Naroda Patiya, the Best Bakery, the Bilkis Bano gang-rape etc. at the behest of Hindu activists like the late Mukul Sinha (and not all Muslim extremists have been convicted; think Bitta Karate, killer of many Kashmiri Pandits, and Azam Khan, a venom-spewing politician allegedly involved in fanning riots from the Muslim side in Muzaffarnagar and Sahranpur), and many Muslims implicated in terror cases have even been acquitted... even in the case of beef lynchings, there have been several arrests, as you can see here, here, here and, here.

Yes, conscious, subconscious or unconscious bias in the form of a sense of bloated chauvinism based on birth-based identity and/or a general apathy towards extremism perpetuated against "others" by those of one's own community does exist among many Hindus, but the same is equally, if not more, true for very many (not all) Indian Muslims, who have an even higher section insisting on making scripture-based scientific claims without much basis, a propensity towards seeking to see themselves as perennial victims, having generalised hatred even for communities they have experienced no harm from (like Jews in the case of many Indian Muslims, or take the doctrinal intolerance towards Ahmedias) and believing in bizarre and baseless conspiracy theories that deny the very existence of jihadist terrorism, and if there are Hindus who don't sufficiently acknowledge secular Muslims, the vice versa is true as well, as many liberal Muslims concede, and to Hindu readers, I’d say that just because a lot of Muslims may not express their bigoted ideas to your face, it doesn’t mean that you must imagine that bigoted talk happens only among Hindus.

Besides, negative stereotyping of Hindus by Muslims is less understandable than the vice versa, for Muslims come in contact with Hindus more than Hindus do with Muslims (and secular Hindus are quite visible in the media, NGOs, judiciary, political class and academia), and given that owing to Muslims as an aggregate whole having failed to embrace wholeheartedly modern constitutional secular democracy (how many such Muslim-majority countries do we have? - yes, there are a few like Albania and Burkina Faso), sections of Muslims globally find themselves in conflict with those of other faiths (it's not just about Hindus in India), and therefore, it's for more and more Muslims to come out and prove their tolerance by being fully impartial in their outlook, for intolerance by others is largely (not entirely) only about antipathy to Muslims, there being hardly any very powerful, armed non-Muslim terror groups seeking to impose dictatorial theocratic rule. Indian Muslims would do better to (as many already do) embrace the approach of secular Indian nationalism of Maulana Azad (here is a piece by me clarifying misconceptions about him) Ashfaqullah Khan, APJ Abdul Kalam (who was a practising Muslim), and Muslims in our Indian defence forces, rather than imagine themselves as some marginalised monolith that needs to keep crying hoarse about some perennial victimhood (I have rebutted that line of thinking here) and sympathising with extremists from their community or believing in all kinds of bizarre and baseless conspiracy theories that deny the very existence of jihadist terrorism, and while wanting non-Muslims to care for Muslims' concerns, themselves overlooking the concerns of non-Muslims [except paying some lip service to the cause of those non-Muslims who fit into the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" syndrome (like Christian victims of Hindu extremism, or victims of human rights violations in the northeast or Adivasi areas rather than only Muslim-majority Kashmir) or "I can use their victimhood to paint that community in a certain fashion" idea (like in the case of Dalits to promote Hinduphobia, just as many Hindu rightists cite issues like burqas and triple talaq not because they care for Muslim women but to portray Muslims as regressive people), but not caring for Hindu victims of riots and terrorism like the Kashmiri Pandits or Jat victims of Muzaffarnagar riots, over say, the Palestinians]. Fringe extremists among both Hindus (e.g. cow vigilantes) and Muslims (e.g. jihadist terrorists) have launched onslaughts, but no entire community has launched any onslaught on another. One ought to feel sad about Hindu riot victims in Muzaffarnagar, Assam, Gujarat and other places as much as Muslim riot victims, and the pain and suffering is the same, irrespective of which side the victim toll has been higher, and even feel sad for innocent Hindu shopkeepers beaten to pulp and consigned to wheel-chairs in places like Malda. Or for that matter, Hindu victims of Christian extremism in the northeast as you can see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Laws that give state control only to Hindu temples and not places of worship of other religious groupings, the exemption of 25% quota for EWS kids only for minority schools, minority colleges misusing Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian constitution to give reservations to well-off minority kids but without fulfilling the constitutional mandate of making them study the minority culture, the lack of a large-scale secular outrage on the Supreme Court rejecting a petition to probe Kashmiri Pandits’ killings, Azam Khan not even being charge-sheeted or probed for his alleged role in fanning riots or his provocative speeches, the selective negative deconstruction of only Hindu theology and negative stereotyping of practising Hindus by left-liberals when practising Hindus are often progressive and humanistic with their own interpretations of faith etc. are relevant concerns that need to be addressed, and if someone wants to raise these without any hate for all Muslims or Christians, he/she deserves to be heard without being branded as a bigot, and you can't ideologically convert the Hindu extremists (I have actually managed to convert quite a few) if you just dismiss the idea that a majority community nationally can have grievances.

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