A few days ago I went to watch “My Name Is Khan” and although I do not have a fetish for Shahrukh Khan, I was sure that at one point, the film would certainly convey an important message. During the film I heard him say “My Name Is Khan and I am not a Terrorist!” a number of times. At the theatre, I could see the crowd rejoicing each time the protagonist uttered this dialogue. They clapped, they shouted with zeal and in the end, they left. But the film left me in a dizzy state and I asked myself, ‘did the extent to which the crowd applaud reflect their understanding of the essence of the movie?’ Was that just a reflex to a dialogue being said by a superstar, or did they immensely hold the nerve of the movie?
The movie tried hard and to an extent proved effective in delivering the message it was intended to. I could remember a dialogue when SRK painfully presented the state of Muslims in the US in the aftermath of 9/11 -” Earlier, there used to be two things marking the significance of Date. AD and BC, but after 9/11, there are three, AD, BC and 9/11.” Unfortunately this is true as Muslims all over the world, particularly in the west are sneered with racial and ethnic discrimination, and this community deplorably shares the blame for being allegedly involved, directly or indirectly in almost every terror attack.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the situation has been difficult for Muslims in the US. An exercise of discretion was targeted at Muslims not only morally but it also affected them through inexcusable legislative practices and transformations. A survey revealed that 26% of Muslims had experienced racial and ethnic discrimination in the US while 57% know some of their friends and relatives who have experienced such bigotry while at work, school or neighborhood. Shockingly, when public discourse was included, 22% Americans agreed that citizens should be profiled on the basis of them being Muslim, 27% suggested that Muslims should be required to register their whereabouts to the govt. and 26 % believed that mosques should be closely monitored by govt. security agencies. How pitiful is such a harsh public opinion which dismisses entire moral values? 9/11 turned out to be the nadir which took an entire community into the vicinity of suspicion and discrimination, and which is entirely unjustifiable in regard to all those innocent who have paid heavy charges.
Immediately after 9/11, the FBI initiated a massive investigation called PENTTBOM which sought to identify individuals involved in the attack. Within two months, it led to the detention of over 1,200 individuals nationwide, most of were either US-Muslims or non-US Muslims residing in various parts of America. The investigation detained them for an average of 80 days and a maximum of 244 days. During the detention, they were subjected to all kinds of physical and verbal abuse. Such practices targeting the entire group and placing them under suspicion had an adverse effect on those people who condemned such attacks and were not the hard-liners. To a certain extent, such legal (better call it a disguised-legal) dogma causes danger to personal security, undermining all loyalties to the nation by a person held prior to the detention. I am asking US authorities of their connivance when a terrorist group, “The Jewish Defense League” was attacking targets within the US, their excuse being for the protection of Judaism against its rivalries. Was that not biased?
Even if the chance of involvement of any Jew in these kinds of acts was 1 out of a 10000, it would have been totally unjustified to investigate all members of a population to find a tiny mark of dangerous individuals. If we talk in the context of Tamil Tigers, would it have been pragmatic to take the entire pool of Tamils into suspicion and refrain them from all personal, social and ethical pursuits? Since the vast majority of Muslims pose no threat at all, there is likely to be no benefit from focusing discretionary preventive measures on each of them. Such discrimination should be rejected outright! I should remind you that every religion stresses on peace and each have their faiths. It is not valid in any sense to disrespect an entire community based on the acts of a few sociopaths who do not know what really the Practice of Religion is and what their religion preaches. No doubt, wrongs have been done and may still be occurring! Have we learned anything from watching “My Name Is Khan”? I am asking this to all those who were have seen the movie and actually understood what message it’s trying to convey.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.
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