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The Muslim Rage and Hypocrisy- Tehelka blog

 

Though this article still paints Muslims in victimhood mode, overall, it breaks the pattern and puts blame squarely on Muslims.

Gaurang

http://blog.tehelka.com/the-muslim-rage-and-hypocrisy/

The Muslim Rage and Hypocrisy

Can you believe it? A Chinese–made shoe is holding hostage a population of over 1.4 million in Srinagar. It began in Central Kashmir’s Magam area. On 28 November, someone saw a white sports shoe with the name of the last Caliph (Hazrat Ali) printed on it. A close examination of the shoe, however, threw up a hint of mischief: on the right-side of the toe, the name ‘Ali’ was hand-written with a black marker and didn’t look like a company mark. Soon, men, children and women gathered on the streets. Protests ensued. The shoe was held high in the procession while the demonstrators called for an end to “hurting” Muslim “sensibilities.”

Even before the crowd from this protest had returned home, a new mob gathered around 30 kilometers away at Srinagar’s Zadibal-Nowhatta neighbourhood where Shia and Sunni communities live together but their union is often marred by frictions from time to time. For years, youngsters of this area have been stone-pelting the armed forces for atrocities and the clampdown on Azadi-demanding protests, but today they were stone pelting each other’s houses, breaking windowpanes and disfiguring fence walls. Some people say pro-India PDP’s Shia leader had spoken against the first three Caliphs of Islam during his Moharram speech (a few days before the shoe-incident) that angered the majority Sunni population. Others say the Shia youth wanted to enforce a strike in the Sunni area of Nowhatta which was resisted by the shopkeepers triggering stone pelting between the other communities. The result: the police and the paramilitary CRPF are enforcing a curfew for several days now; seizing some youth in nocturnal raids, and even the parents of those running away to escape the Khakis. Ghulam Qadir Sheikh, the father of a youth who was detained in one such raid, says he was dealt with like a hardcore criminal in the police station. Adding to the absurd chaos, Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner Asghar Samoon, as quoted in the local media, explained that he had recommended in the past too that parents of minors (allegedly involved in stone pelting) must be punished. Meanwhile representatives of around 30 religious bodies (both Sunni and Shi’ites) are now trying to calm the angry communities.

A friend jokingly says if this is what a single Chinese shoe can do, imagine the magnitude of global unrest if the whole of China were unleashed on the world.

Ruptures between Shi’ites and Sunnis aren’t new. They had developed immediately after the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. There was no agreement on his immediate successor. Sunnis recognise the first four Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq, Usman Ghani and lastly, Ali Murtaza) as his rightful successors; the Shi’ites believes the prophet nominated his son-in-law, Ali. Since then, sentiments over the matter continued to boil right through to the modern times, sometime pushing countries to the verge of civil war. But in the case of Kashmir, Shi’ites and Sunnis rarely have such turbulent history. There is a greater realisation among many regarding who will actually benefit from such a sectarian fight which I’ve already mentioned in my previous blog post.

Such protests, however, also throw up questions (so far avoided and unanswered too). Was this shoe-protest a justifiable rage? How will a violent protest in Srinagar force the shoe-manufacturer (in case it’s established that a mischief was played at the manufacturing level) in China to stop such production. Or how will it force some individual or a group not to play this malafide act again? They must be already giggling somewhere after having successfully triggered clashes in Srinagar over a shoe.

This incident also reminds me of the June 2010 anti-West and anti-India protest in Kashmir. Young men in hundreds in the same neighbourhood carried a blue underwear on a wooden stick, after spotting on it, a sketch of a building which looked like the Al-Aqsa Mosque of Palestine. Without any thorough examination, the underwear enraged them. Soon they blamed the West for “hurting Muslim sensibilities” and clashed with the police and the CRPF. The under wear protest soon faded after it was established that it never carried images of any Islamic worship place. The blue underwear flouted as a placard had in fact sketches of buildings that resembled London’s Big Ben and Saint Paul’s Cathedral and several other places.

This year, during the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ protests, I was in Kashmir. The entire valley was angry. I was on my way to Poonch (researching for a story about a strange disabling disease that has become a scourge in the border district) when my car was stopped by some protesting youth in Shopian district. It took me, my cameraman friend, Abhijit Dutta and the driver, Tanveer Ahmad almost half-an-hour to convince them that the media should be allowed to cover such protests and there were similar other protests in other areas too which our team was supposed to cover. Abhijit took some pictures of sloganeering youth before Tanveer accelerated the car. In such situations, lying to the police, the CRPF or protesters is often best to save one’s skin.
On the just-reopened Mughal Road, we were soon negotiating curves in the mighty Pir Panjal Mountains that separate Kashmir valley from Poonch and Rajouri districts. I asked Tanveer how one should react to the anti-Islam film, the condemnation call by pro-India mainstream parties and strike call by pro-Azadi groups.
“If I won’t earn Rs 100 or 200 today, how will it hurt the United States, the film maker or Obama. Or, how will it decrease my love towards Prophet Muhammad and Islam both,” he replied. “Not people, the response should come from the 52 Islamic states. Let the core states like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Turkey and others expel US’ Ambassadors as a mark of protest or let the Gulf countries stop exporting oil. The West will come down to its knees. But it needs gurda (guts) which they don’t have.”
Tanveer was right. First Muslims must abandon protesting on vague things like the shoe or underwear. On films like Nakoula Basseley’s anti-Islam film or other issues, there is a greater need to channelise this rage in a manner that registers the full magnitude of hurt felt by Muslims by such actions. Also the present forms of random, uncoordinated and thoughtless protests, like the one we saw in Kashmir, further negates the Muslim cause, divides the community and in fact weakens the merit of a genuine protest.
For some time, like diplomats, Dutta, Tanveer and I pondered in the moving car over what could be the genuine response of Islamic block if Muslim sensibilities are hurt instead of burning down public property and stone pelting moving cars. What we thought could be these:

1. Diplomatic– Expel and call back Ambassador from the country which the Islamic countries feel has hurt the sentiments of Muslims
2. Economic – Stop oil imports for a month until that country takes strong action
3. Military – Organise a military alliance like NATO and issue a joint press statement by the commander in chiefs of this alliance condemning the event
4. Criminal – Put the specific person responsible on an international Islamic watch list so that if and when he travels through or into any Islamic country he can be nabbed/deported
and finally the most important,
5. Intellectual Response – A creative, intellectual response as well that contextualises the above response in terms of a meta-narrative (without coming off as conspiracy theorists).

Tanveer, who at the end repeated his previous one-liner, however, undermined all the joint efforts. “It needs gurda (guts) which they (the Islamic nations) don’t have.”

Apart from gurda (guts), sometimes there has been an element of hypocrisy and ignorance among Muslims as well. Imagine a scenario where an American F-16 blasts a Muslim holy site in Pakistan or an Israeli bulldozer razes an age-old shrine in occupied Palestine. What would be the Muslim response? I am sure it will be similar to the previous responses. Protesters across the Muslim world will occupy streets, some will try to march towards US or Israeli embassies and police will fire at them to quell the protests. There will be killings and loss of property. Strikes and clampdowns. And that’s it. But has anyone ever thought about why Muslims are often enraged when the “West” is seen as mocking them, but equally indifferent when Muslim Countries blast shrines, raze historic sites and bring down holy places that are connected with Muslims’ identity.

By no means should this piece be seen as advocating stupid violence like the one we saw in Kashmir, but have Muslims ever launched a genuine indignation against the razing of house where prophet Muhammad was born on which a library stands now. Where was the Muslim rage when the house of Khadija (Muhammad’s first wife) where Muhammad received some of the first revelations of the Quran) was replaced with a public toilet block and Dar-al-Arqam, the first Islamic school, where Muhammad taught was levelled for construction? Did it not deserve a response when Jannat-ul-Baqi, a large cemetery where tombs of several of the prophet’s wives, daughters, sons and as many as six grandsons and Shiite saints were once located were bulldozed and levelled? In both Mecca and Medina (the birth place of Islam), Saudi Arabia has, according to many reports, already bulldozed over 90% of the Islamic monuments (during the past 20 years) dating back to around 1400 years. In their place, five star hotels, parking lots and shopping malls are coming up. Saudi authorities often use the excuse that the expansion is necessary to accommodate the increasing number of Muslim pilgrims. But why can’t the hotels and malls be constructed outside the historic interior of Mecca thus preserving both Islamic identity and the monuments? At a place where Paris Hilton can open a luxury bag shop, (in Mecca Mall) why can’t the old shrines and monuments co-exist?

Now apprehensions are also growing over the expansion of Masjid an-Nabawi that will see the demolition of three of the world’s oldest mosques that hold the tombs of Prophet Mohammad, and his closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. At a cost of US $6 billion, the construction will raze holy sites as old as the seventh century.

So instead of stupid protests over a vague China-made shoe or someone’s underwear, the rage should be directed at something real. Many Muslims usually label people of other faith as ‘infidel blasphemers’ when a verse of the Quran appears on a skating board or a page from the Quran is brunt, but when the sacred and holy sites are razed in the Islamic states, the word ‘blasphemy’ disappears and the silence becomes remarkable.

Tags: Kashmir

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Author: Mohammad Umar BabaBaba Umar’s career started with The Indian Express in Srinagar where he reported on the South Asia earthquake of 2005. In the following years, he wrote features for Kashmir’s first online news magazine Kashmir Newz and in 2008 he joined Rising Kashmir as a senior reporter where he covered 2008-09-10 civil unrest. Baba specializes in producing stories mostly on Kashmir conflict and water disputes in India. Baba joined Tehelka in 2010 and the next year saw him winning ICRC (Geneva)-Press Institute of India (PII) award for his news report on victims of armed conflict in Kashmir.

 

Sign the Petition: Open letter to Pres., India- Police Brutality at Ramlila Grounds

Date: Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 5:25 PM
Subject: [BSTUSA} Open Letter to the President of India – Sign Up Campaign against Delhi Police’s brutalities on hundreds of thousands peaceful Satyagrathies on June 4th Night at Ram Lila Ground

Dear All,


OM!

Please click the link below for Sign Up Campaign against Delhi Police’s brutalities on hundreds of thousands peaceful Satyagrathies on June 4th Night at Ram Lila Ground and please forward it to as many people as possible.

Letter To President Of India

Smt. Pratibha Patil
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi,
India.

Honorable Smt. Pratibha Patil:

This is to express our vehement condemnation of the merciless use of force on more than a hundred thousand Indian citizens including women and children who were unarmed, sleeping, fasting and exercising only their constitutional democratic rights to draw attention of Government of India by peaceful means to skyrocketing plundering and widespread corruption, during the “Satyagraha” against corruption on Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi on June 4th 2011.

The brutality of the police revisited the atrocities committed by British colonial rulers and emergency rule of Mrs. Indira Gandhi during 1975, which many of us have personally experienced and heard from our parents. Innocent, peaceful Satyagrahis assembled were tear-gassed, beaten up in lathi-charge and trampled by thousands of violent policemen under order from the UPA government.

The state-sponsored violence in a closed compound could have even led to an uncontrollable  stampede resulting in the loss of an enormous numbers of innocent lives. This cannot be Democratic India; this cannot be Mahatma Gandhi’s India; this is not India governed by rule of law and a democratic constitution, ensuring the fundamental rights of all citizens for assembly and peaceful protest and demonstration.

These events have left the people of Indian origin around the globe, particularly here in the USA, shocked and horror-stricken. We are thoroughly embarrassed for our native land, asking in disbelief what indeed is the difference between Indian democracy under UPA leadership and the Chinese dictatorial system, where no peaceful demonstration is allowed and any legitimate criticism against the ruling Communist Party is crushed with brutal violence as in Tiananmen Square.

The irresponsible, callous, fascist and totalitarian attitude of the UPA government is evident from the fact that neither the UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi nor Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh considers it necessary to provide an explanation and extend an apology to the nation. The prime minister even made a ridiculous statement that there was no other way except use of violence, near the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi himself – a global beacon of non-violence.

This display of naked power clearly appears to be yet another attempt to crush the ever-increasing strength of anti-corruption movements by the masses all over India, unfortunately implying UPA government intense desire to preserve the culture of corruption among their own political ranks and within the thoroughly corrupt bureaucracy they control. These were the actions of people who do not believe in either human rights for their citizens, freedom of speech guaranteed by the Indian Constitution or Indian values.

This is a serious threat to the fundamental rights of our brothers and sisters in India. The entire Diaspora around the globe as NRI, PIO and responsible Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) unequivocally condemn this act by the Government of India. We are convinced now more than ever as to why the UPA government is trying to brutally crush any and all peaceful anti-corruption movements. Irrespective of our political affiliation, we are totally united in expressing our disgust and anger against unconstitutional violation of democracy and human rights.

Sreemati Patil, as the President of India you have the constitutional duty to uphold democratic norms guaranteeing the freedom and inalienable right of all Indian citizens for peaceful assembly and protest, and also to dismiss a corrupt government which has clearly exhibited no desire to curb rampant corruption and hence lost all moral authority to govern the country. We fervently hope that you will restore freedom, human rights and democratic rights of the citizens by dismissing the corrupt UPA government.  People of India deserve a chance to democratically elect new leaders who will root out corruption.

Thank you for your consideration and thoughtfulness.

Sincerely,


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