Gurpreet Singh: Reflections on Islamophobia and religious extremism

As the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) is getting ready for a public forum on Islamophobia in Vancouver this Sunday, fingers are pointing at the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen—a Muslim extremist group—as being behind recent bombings in Mumbai. The attacks left 21 people dead. Although it’s premature to judge who may be behind the crime, Indian media reports suggest the involvement of Islamic extremists.

Whereas Muslim terror groups are certainly involved in senseless violence and deserve no sympathy, the media and investigators need to act responsibly before jumping their guns. Stereotyping and racial profiling against Muslims may be a post 9/11 scenario in the West, but in places like India, it has been going on for years. What many secularists describe as Islamophobia may be a new phenomena in this part of the world, but not in India. Although a secular democracy, India has witnessed systematic discrimination against the Muslim minority in particular and other minority groups in general by the ultra Hindu nationalists.

This prejudice has gone on since the independence of India in 1947. The bloody partition of India and Muslim Pakistan resulted in large-scale riots. This forced Hindus and Sikhs to leave Pakistan, and caused millions of Muslims to emigrate from India. Since India chose to become a secular democracy, many Muslims who stayed back in India have always been looked down upon with suspicion and mistrust by the Hindu fascists, who have always wished to convert a pluralist Indian society into a Hindu nation as an answer to the Muslim theocracy in the neighbourhood.

It is for this reason that the Hindu extremists assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation in 1948. Gandhi was against partition and a supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity. He wanted to give concessions to the Muslims and tried to save them from the onslaught of the Hindu extremists.

The ultra-Hindu nationalists have been active on the Indian soil since then. Though Islamic terrorists—with or without the support of Pakistani agencies—have continued their acts of violence in India, Hindu terror groups have largely remained outside the radar of the Indian authorities for years. This can be explained as Islamohphobia, or a strong anti-Muslim bias among certain non-Muslim investigators, who might be sympathetic toward the cause of Hindu nationalists.

Most of the time when bombs exploded, Islamic terrorist groups were quickly blamed and Muslim men were arrested and harassed by the police. Only in recent years has the Indian establishment started taking the threat from the Hindu terror groups more seriously. This, too, came after some honest police officers and secular journalists exposed their activities.

One of the honest police officers who revealed Hindu terrorist organizations was late Hemant Karkare of the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Maharashtra state police. For doing this, he faced criticism from Hindu organizations. Ironically, he died fighting against Islamic terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008.

Most suspected Hindu terrorists arrested so far have allegedly been responsible for bombings that targeted the Muslim community. Yet in some cases, police had earlier arrested Muslim suspects.

The most glaring case in point is the Samjhauta Rail Express blast in 2007 that left 68 people dead, mostly Pakistanis. This rail service was launched to strengthen the Indo-Pakistan relationship. Knowing well that Hindu extremists on the Indian side were against the service as much as Muslim extremists on the the other side of the border, the crime was prematurely blamed on the Islamic terrorists. However, it later emerged that those involved in the crime were pro-Hindu-nation terrorists. One of them, Swami Aseemanand, was charged last month.

Thanks to the continued campaign by secularist social-justice activists, the Indian media and the government now recognize Hindu terrorism as a threat. However, if the Hindu nationalist BJP, which is the main opposition party of India, ever succeeds in forming a majority government, this might give oxygen to such dangerous groups.

After all, the BJP government in Gujarat, India was responsible for the anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002. However, the ruling, secular Congress has also encouraged sectarianism for narrow political gains. In 1984, the Sikh minority felt unsafe under a Congress government that allowed large-scale anti-Sikh violence. The Congress government back then was also accused of distorting the image of the Sikh community in the name of the fight against Sikh terrorism.

The present Congress-led coalition government can in the meantime outlaw Hindu terror groups. Both Hindu and Muslim terrorists should be treated alike, and there should be no sympathy toward any group that promotes violence and hatred in the name of religion. There has to be a clear differentiation between moderates and extremists in any community. After all, an entire religious group cannot be blamed for the misdeeds of a handful of fanatical elements.

Groups like SANSAD can educate people to denounce stereotypes and fundamentalism of every shade. There should be absolutely no compromise with any organization, whether representing a majority or a minority community, that supports religious extremism. Otherwise, the very purpose of promoting secularism and breaking stereotypes will be defeated.

The forum on Islamophobia will be held at 3 p.m. at Cafe Kathmandu at 2779 Commercial Drive in Vancouver on July 17. Former B.C. Human Rights Commission chair Harinder Mahil will be one of the three panelists. Others are former federal NDP candidate Itrath Syed and Graham Fuller, author of A World Without Islam. Zahid Makhdoom will moderate the event.

Comments

8 Comments

Shahenshah

Jul 16, 2011 at 7:27pm

This is idiotic. There is no 'Hindu' equivalent systematic prejudice against Muslims in India as there is towards all Minorities in Pakistan. The Hindu fascists are not the only ones who become wary of Islam. I mean, come on, can you blame people? What are people to do? Stop living their lives and start discerning which Mullah is a good one and which one is the bad one? Stereotyping is not great, one might say, but that is how our brain organises things. We observe nearly all terrorists sporting mediaeval beards, clothing, and the like. What do you think people should do? Give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who is dressed like that? That is idealistic. I value my life far more. It is the 21st Century. Most Muslims are not extremists, and most Indian Muslims do not dress as if they have popped out of Arabia. Those who do, well, they should appreciate how they appear and how the Public are going to connotate them.

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TheMan

Jul 16, 2011 at 9:57pm

And how is everyone going to respond to sharia law being imposed around the world? Call me islamiphobic if you want, I don't want any religion shoved down my throat. I think that's what causes prejudice in the first place. Heck, you explained it in your article.

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paolo

Jul 17, 2011 at 7:55am

Muslims and Christians are all Hindus anyway. Jesus was the eighth incarnation of Vishnu and Mohammed was the ninth. Get on with things.

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Standing Water

Jul 17, 2011 at 11:23am

"Islamophobia"

Sorry, stopped reading once the cultural marxist x-o-phobia jargon was deployed.

Please get better writers, Straight, kthnx.

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James G

Jul 17, 2011 at 12:58pm

There is a thin line between an appeal for acceptance and community and becoming an apologist for terror. This author is skirting it by ignoring certain facts while emphasizing others.
As for how Muslims have fared since 1949, let's not forget that the very creation of Pakistan was an Islamic initiative. We, especially Canadians, would do well to remember what Pakistani governments have promised before and failed to deliver on with regards to CANDU technology. It isn't like the failure to locate and/or actively conceal Osama bin Laden existed in a bubble, Pakistan has not had a political figure the world could put their trust in since Zulkifar Ali Bhutto. It barely seemed to matter whether their governments came to power through elections or military coups.
As for terrorism, yes there are other groups in the subcontinent who have amongst them groups active in terror, notably the Sikh extremists in their quest to follow Pakistan in establishing an independent Khalistan. As Canadians, we can recall their being responsible for the most horrific terrorist incident in our own history. Yet the author seems to think that Hindu terrorism and extremism is the main problem. Yes, they can and do harbor the same kind of thinking that led to the assassination of Mohandas K. Ghandi. He failed to mention how Nehru's daughter Indira Ghandi, died which was at the hands of her own Sikh bodyguards. This fact doesn't tarnish the entire Sikh community but certainly does those seeking Khalistan.
We shouldn't automatically leap to the conclusion that Islamic extremism is responsible for the recent Mumbai bombing? No, we shouldn't but we can look at very recent history and conclude we should at least pursue that line of inquiry.
The forum this afternoon is worthy enough. Certainly looking at recent editions of 'Macleans' magazine, you get a sense that some publications would dearly love a new crusade to start and all of us are entitled to live our own lives without that kind of fascist garbage.
It is only when religious persons of any faith start telling others how to live that the government in a secular society should feel an obligation to step in and remind them, whether fundamentalist Christian or Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Catholic, Hindu or Sikh that they have crossed the line of religious freedom by intruding on the lives of others.

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Tim Bus

Jul 17, 2011 at 1:01pm

This is SANSAD's preamble to this 'public forum':

"”˜Islamophobia’, the construction of all Muslims as the ”˜Other’ of Western and all non-Islamic civilizations and subjecting them to various discriminatory practices, has been growing since the end of the Cold War..."
Islamic terrorism has been growing since the end of the Cold War, with over 10,000 documented cases.

"Rooted in the historical discourse of the West in the way it defined itself against ”˜others’ that were demonized and excluded from civilization, it has gained enormous force from the interests of Zionism and the state of Israel and from the world-wide ”˜War on Terror’ that was unleashed by the Bush Administration in the US following the events of 9/11."

Obviously a right wing forum, eh? Blame the Jews? Again?

"Today Muslims are subjected to racial profiling and required to prove their innocence and citizenship by apologizing for all violence conducted in the name of Islam."

Well, actually, no! The world is spending a TRILLION dollars because of (99% mohammedan) terrorism. The TSA is patting down and feeling up grannies and kids because of Political Correctness and islamophobiaphobia.

So to this GS hobby horse:

"Although it’s premature to judge who may be behind the crime, ..." No, the Boy Scouts did it.

"...Indian media reports suggest the involvement of Islamic extremists." Not to mention them claiming the credit.

"The bloody partition of India and Muslim Pakistan..."
By bloody mohammedans.

"...many Muslims who stayed back in India have always been looked down upon with suspicion and mistrust by the Hindu fascists, who have always wished to convert a pluralist Indian society into a Hindu nation as an answer to the Muslim theocracy in the neighbourhood."
Saying 'Hindu fascists' is going to make you a lot of friends.
How would they 'convert a pluralist Indian society into a Hindu nation'? By ethnic cleansing?

Tim Bus

Jul 18, 2011 at 11:58am

"Muslim extremism attracts a great deal of attention, but perhaps it's time we also started shining a light on Hindu extremism."

I.e. take the light OFF mohammedans, the single source of acts of terrorism, which outnumbers all others!

PS: Who wrote that cutline, GS?

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Hindu Terrorist

Aug 7, 2011 at 9:05am

India is a State Sponsor of Terrorism and uses Terrorism as State Policy.

Lt. Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, a serving Hindu officer in the Indian Army, admitted to using Indian military RDX explosives in multiple terrorist bombings in India, including but not limited to Malegoan, Ajmer, Sumjuhota Express train. These terrorist bombings were then used by the Indian government to round up, arrest, torture and kill thousands of Muslims in India.

Nathuram Godse, was a member of the RSS Hindu Terrorist group, who shot and killed Gandhi in 1948. Lt. Col Purohit is a member of the RSS Hindu Terrorist group that has been operating openly in India since 1925 (86 years of Hindu Terrorism).

Narendra Modi, Governor of Gujarat and a Hindu, advocated and led riots against Muslims in Gujarat. An elected Hindu official killing Muslims in his own province... and he is still Governor.

The RSS and Siva Sena are Hindu Terrorist Groups that have penetrated all levels of the Indian Government and Indian military. Hindu Terrorists now create official Indian state policy.

RAW, India's Hindu intelligence agency, created the world's first suicide bomb vest, not Muslims in the Middle East. India then provided these suicide bomb vests to the Hindu Tamil Tigers terrorist group to kill Buddhist and Christian civilians in Sri Lanka.

These Hindu Terrorists have assassinated two world leaders; Rajiv Gandhi, PM of India (suicide attack in 1991) and Ranasinghe Premadasa, President of Sri Lanka (also by suicide attack in 1991). The Hindu Tamil Tigers (LTTE) conducted weekly suicide bombings in Sri Lanka for over 30 years. Most of the world's suicide bombers are Hindus!

Hindu Swami Aseemanand, member of RSS Hindu Terrorist group, admitted to organizing a Hindu Terrorist cell that committed multiple bombings:
1) May 2007 bombing at Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad
2) Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast
3) 2006 Malegaon blast
4) 2007 Sumjuhota Express train bombing
5) 2008 Malegaon bombings
6) 2008 Modasa bombing

In all these Hindu Terrorist attacks the blame was placed on innocent Muslims in India - who were tortured and killed by the Indian Hindu police.

This is ALL FACT.

So, what we should all learn is that India is a Fascist State run by Hindu Terrorists.

Boycott India.

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Ref:
July 18, 2005 - The American Conservative

"The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka."

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/jul/18/00017/
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