Editor’s pick- Islamophobia in our Blood? Why?

Posted on July 24, 2009 in Society

Anshul Tewari, (with inputs by Parul Sabherwal)

P.S.- We do not intent to hurt the sentiments of any religious community.

Plurality. This is what separates India from the rest of the world. This is not just a word for India but also it’s unique identity. India is one of the few countries diverse in its religious beliefs and practices. Being an Indian, I understand this pretty well. But yet there are many who fail to understand the basic concept of religion, and associate violence with it. Not only do they single out communities but also take to violent methods to humiliate them. This is the bias and discrimination this pluralist society suffers from.

Let me take you back to an incident which occurred in 2001. You guessed it right, the Godhra Massacre. We all know what had happened back them. Hate crimes against Hindus and Muslims, which led to a massive number of Muslims being killed. This is not just one incident, if we look at the communal and terror attacks in the past, the after effects have been hurtful for the Islamic community in India. Every terror attack triggered a sense of fear amongst the non-Muslims. Fear of those who had a beard and wore a cap, or even a kurta-pyjama. Fear of those who went to Masjids and practiced Islam. Fear of those who were Muslims. If I may be corrected, the amount of fear was soon overpowered by a sense of prejudice. Whenever and wherever a biased person saw a Muslim (whom we of course recognized from the beard), the first thing that came to his minds was “Is he a terrorist?” “Is he carrying arms?” which is certainly a wrong notion. This was the draconian feeling that many kept (and might still keep). But have the times changed now? Let’s read the example below.

I had gone to this extremely popular mall in Delhi where the security check was through computer X-rays and only one out of 6 people were checked, thus, only 5 people were allowed to enter at a time. I was the sixth person after a group of 5 and thus I was checked. After myself, entered a group of middle aged men, one amongst whom was a Muslim with a beard. Nobody among the 5 were checked but the security guards stopped the Muslim in particular and checked him thoroughly. This obviously called for attention and till the time he was in the mall, everyone around looked at him suspiciously and he was embarrassed.

The feeling of prejudice has not yet gone. There are many who still feel the same. They act as though we are the “God is one” types, but somewhere deep inside, they still feel that only Muslims can be terrorists. This is what we have slowly started imbibing in our mindset and we will forward it to our coming generations. But let me ask you something, what is Terrorism? Well, to keep it short and simple, terrorism is an act of barbarity, of violence done by any human. TERRORISM IS NOT EXCLUSIVE TO A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY. When the Kandhamal violence occurred, the ones who indulged in violence were NOT Muslims and were technically terrorists. When the Ayodhaya Massacre occurred, the perpetrators of the crime were also terrorists, and wished to instill terror in the hearts of a particular community, and they were NOT Muslims. Then why single out a particular community? Because of a few rotten apples we cannot blame a particular section of the society.

Read below as our Citizen Journalist Parul Sabherwal writes interesting questions by a Muslim. This is purely fictional and has no resemblance whatsoever to any person dead or alive.

I am a Muslim, but does that mean that
– I am a TERRORIST?
– I am an EXTREMIST?
– I am happy when innocent people are killed?
– I am any different from a Hindu/Sikh/Christian?
– I am a TRAITOR?
– I cant be a true PATRIOT?
– I support TERRORISM?

Being a Muslim myself, I can guarantee that the answer to all of these questions is a BIG NO. And those of you who think that the answer to even one of these questions is yes, then I must say that its your misconception. For every untoward happening, we Muslims are blamed. There are some black sheep amongst us but that doesn’t mean every Muslim is bad or is a terrorist. For instance, if a few apples rot on a tree, one doesn’t uproot the tree, instead, one throws away the rotten apples and leaves the others to flourish for the good. I wonder why doesn’t the same apply to Muslims? We overwhelmingly reject terrorists to be amongst us. But why is everyone trying to connect them with us, I fail to understand.”

Okay let me ask a few questions.

– Isn’t what Israel did in Gaza terrorism?
– Where are the weapons of mass destruction Saddam had?
– Isn’t the American invasion of Iraq dictatorship?
– When America is itself using nuclear power for peaceful means why can`t Iran?
– Isn’t the invasion of Afghanistan terrorism?
– Wasn’t global terrorist Osama Bin Laden on CIA payrolls?

There are a million such questions that can be asked. But first we need to ask ourselves, do we believe in the concept of equality? Do we believe that our nation is exclusive because of it’s plurality? We need to question ourselves if we are biased or not.

Our freedom struggle was successful only because all the communities worked together. But now we are not being able to shun discrimination. The youth have stopped thinking logically and are being persuaded by the ‘communal’ thinking. School going children think bad about their Muslim counterparts solely because they learnt it from their elders, who else?

It’s high time we considered everyone the same and forgot the discrimination that seems to be running in our blood. Islam is as good as Hinduism or Christianity or any other religion. No religion is larger than the spirit of Nationalism. So, for a better nation, shun discrimination

Please post your comments and voice yourself.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ejazasi/ / CC BY-NC 2.0“>

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Radhika

People prefer to live in Ignorance, and though many people do suffer from Islamophobia they would not like to admit it – as it makes them conservative, close minded, unforgiving, and “nonsecular” in their thinking.
However of course there are many who are unafraid of raising their voices and speak out by saying “Muslims” do not belong in India.
It is indeed IRONIC that a word which means PEACE is being intepreted as “VIOLENCE. TERRORISM AND HATRED”. People fear what they do not understand and what they can not understand they don’t try to understand.
No one thinks of the people who massacred the Sikhs in 84 – what religion did those people belong to? No one thinks about the violence committed against the Christians in Orissa and other parts of the country. Were these perpetrators all Muslims? Can their acts be separated from acts of terrorism?
On one hand Minorities are given certain privileges and importance by the Government in their institutions. But what about the people’s attitudes towards people from the minority groups of the country? What about the Justice needed and deserved by various minority groups of the country?
Again whilst there is definitely ISLAMOPHOBIA embedded into the conciousness of many people, the question is WHY is there any phobia and violence. inujustice committed against any group in this country when they have as much of a right to reisde within the boundaries of this country as anyone else!

ashok

@Radhika. A balanced view. So you tell us why is this phobia? Is it imagination of people who are afraid or they have a rational behind their fears. You see how minority politics is conducted and how various groups want to display centripetal characterstics. And yes do comment on how the minorities are treated by the majority in J and K and you will get a glimps into the fear irrational or otherwise which some people have

And one thing is very clear. No one can be fooled today. All must be honest. Smart words and twisted arguements serve no purpose. Everybody’s fear has to be addressed. And people read history; this too makes them afraid for it might repeat itself. And people do have a vague idea who was largely responsible for the myhem which the partition caused. So keep all this in mind and you will not go wrong.

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