By Asaf Ali Lone:
In the recent past, videos of ISIS members allegedly of Indian origin were seen circulating on the digital platforms threatening India for its treatment of its Muslim population. It is a message to the ‘infidels’ of India by a few ‘believers’ of Indian-origin from a far-off land. What is remarkable in this entire saga is the way in which these videos have been interpreted and mediated by the ‘hypernationalist’ Indian media. The love-hate relationship between Indian mainstream media and ISIS is interesting and at the same time bizarre. Indian media has gone hyper with the videos of ISIS trying to provoke the audiences. Indian media left no stone unturned to imagine the scenario depicting what can possibly happen to this nation if these bloody people come here.
It is interesting to assess the way mainstream Indian media has tried to sensitise people about the danger of ISIS. From the Indian media’s point of view, it seems ISIS is ready with their Bazookas and AK-47s and can attack at any time the vulnerable people of this nation. In this treatment of the ISIS story, the Muslims of India appear as traitors who will welcome and garland every ISIS member similar to the way damaads are treated in the ‘pro-masculine’ Indian society.
ISIS has been involved in violence across various nations of Europe and Asia. There is something cooking up in their minds but is ISIS a real threat to India? Going by the logic of geopolitics, ISIS is a bigger threat to Iran, Israel, Turkey, the Gulf kingdoms; even Afghanistan and Pakistan are much nearer to them in terms of physical proximity. These countries seem to be less worried than the hyper-reaction we see in India. Indian security agencies need not worry as India has won Iran and Saudi Arabia as its new allies and these new friends will hopefully check this ‘badass’ devil for India.
It seems the worry is much more than that. Damn this internet and its global outreach! It is wicked and vicarious, it is pernicious and invincible, and it is vast and fearful. From the inputs of the media, it seems ISIS has an easy access to the potential ‘Indian Jihadis’ through this medium. The paradox is that every Muslim seems like a potential Jihadi these days according to the fatwa-mongering ‘Sheikh Media’. The internet is the medium and according to Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message“. It will be in the best interests of this nation if the defense ministry bombs this wicked thing known as internet. The medium dies and so does the message. As a very old, wise woman once said, “Nip the evil in the bud.”
The important question is what has made Indian media and security agencies lose their sleep? What is that they fear? Let me tell something that can be of immense value to the security agencies here; an intelligence tip. I am a Muslim myself. I was born with this identity. My name is a Muslim-sounding-name and later I was turned into a katua. Hence, I am a Muslim till eternity. All this happened without my will that’s why I think free will is a delusion.
Anyways, let me confess something today. I have been lucky to be in the company and parties of Muslims of all orientations and types such as the radical-morons, liberal-retards, orthodox-fools, fundamentalist-junoonis, secular-scumbags, progressive-unthinkers. There are some other kinds also like dal khor, halwa khor, gosht khor and also gau mans (cow meat) eaters. I also know some Muslims who drink alcohol and eat everything including pork-eating-Muslims. These are different kinds of Muslims one can find in India. The most interesting part about them is, according to the present media analyses, all of them appear are dangerous, primitive, backward, and potential Jihadis including these porky-Muslims.
To protect ISIS influence I also suggest to the Indian government to ban all mainstream media and put all these talk-show anchors like Goswami et al. and politicians behind bars. The reasons are very apparent if one uses a bit of ‘logic’. I am borrowing here from the logic of the great modern Indian logician ‘Goswami the great’, who brands every other person with beautiful labels in his talk-show which ‘The Nation never Wants to Know’. He is a new modern avatar of ‘Indian logic’. Since most of the Muslims appear to be primitive and blah blah according to these media narratives, you will be surprised to know how the ISIS propaganda is being propagated in India.
The politics of ISIS is similar to a theatrical performance. The ISIS have corrupted these journalists and media houses to further their propaganda. How come these primitive, backward and illiterate Muslims come to know about ISIS if not for these media channels? It is the result of these corporate media (hate) campaigns that these innocent Muslim ‘savages’ are getting hypnotised by the propaganda of ISIS. Noam Chomsky also argues how these media houses manufacture consent and propaganda. See his book ‘Manufacturing Consent‘.
Why are the security agencies not arresting all these hate-mongering politicians? They make vampires out of innocents. Every rite (riot) they perform, some mantras are chanted which bewitch people and turn them into bloodthirsty vampires. Just like these young ISIS Indian recruits tried to do but failed miserably. Until we don’t get rid of these people who are ruling the people like morons, the cycle of violence will not stop. Have a look at the history of violence in this country, every time they perform their theatrical dramas, the land was turned red by the blood of innocents. They also work-in-collaboration with the hyper-nationalist media houses. The world is a ‘global village’, again Marshall McLuhan comes to my rescue.
What is it that makes young Muslim men vulnerable targets of ISIS? Isn’t it illiteracy, joblessness, poverty and lack of avenues that is very rampant among young Muslims in India? Even Sachar saab mentioned it in his report. But who gives a damn about these wise men these days. Educate and give a life of dignity to all the ‘Sinners of the Partition‘. They will become the best sons of the soil of this nation.
It’s very hard to be a Muslim these days. But it does not mean that Muslims have lost their senses and can be manipulated so easily by a few persons seen ranting in the video. What is important is that the stigmatisation of Muslims has to stop; the generalisations and stereotypes that are built about Muslims have to be questioned. Muslims in India are as diverse as any other community here. As a Muslim, I don’t have to prove myself to anybody just like a person belonging to majority community doesn’t need to prove himself/herself to me. The time has come to end our hypocrisies. There is so much of violence around that is killing this nation; sexual violence, caste violence, the violence of the inequality, hunger and poverty, the violence of the state against the oppressed minorities. These threats are much more real and dangerous than the threats coming from an imagined enemy in a far-off land. The overzealous imagination of making one community as the ‘threatening other’ is based on frivolous, baseless arguments. This spread of misinformation is the root of all evil.
The misrepresentation of the Muslim community as a homogenised community is a political (ill) design to hide the diversity of this community and make them a scapegoat for all their failures. This has been a historical process especially after 1980; to push this homogenising discourse of Muslims as a communal minority and as the ‘threatening other’. It silences and hides the problems and issues faced by this community, constructs a negative image of the Muslims as ‘other’ who feed on the fear and vulnerabilities of the so-called majority community. This process has led to vilification and stigmatisation of Muslims in pop culture representations which include cinema and media. To end this process of vilification and othering, the struggles, differences and diversities of and within Muslims have to be acknowledged.
Muslims in India haven’t taken the course of violence to redress their grievances. Even Thomas Piketty reiterated the same concerns about India’s 180 million strong Muslim population who have so far been a ‘moderate population’. My experience with young Muslims in India informs me that these young people are much more involved in the vikas of their community and this nation. They are socially and politically conscious; they want to lead this nation by asserting their presence in the public sphere. The majority of them come from spaces that are ghettoised and marginalised. They are assertive and have a strong political will, both young Muslim men, and especially women. They are diverse and assertive. These voices are to be recognised, their struggles must make it to the front pages and their differences acknowledged.
A young Muslim like me is much concerned about what happens around me in India rather than in a far-off land. We are more interested in Bollywood, cricket, and the welfare of our neighborhoods rather than some ‘Jihadi John’, a name many have never even heard of. Muslims are also citizens of India; they are not the ‘other’ of this nation, they make up this nation like any other citizen.
P.S. The intention of this article is not meant to trivialise anyone but to reveal something that is the hard reality of our times.