Opinion

Lynching of Muslims in India evokes deafening silence

July 04, 2017
Lynching of Muslims in India evokes deafening silence
Aijaz Zaka Syed

IT was fascinating to see the leaders of the world’s largest and most powerful democracies rub shoulders and do much backslapping, hand-pumping and mutual fawning in Washington this past week. It was even cornier and overly sugary affair than Modi’s much photographed ‘bromance’ with Obama. This isn’t the first US visit by the Indian leader of course; it is his fourth pilgrimage to the land of the free, which he has grown rather fond of over the years. Perhaps because the hosts had declared him a persona non grata and denied him visa for more than 10 years for his role in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom that killed more than 2,000 Muslims. The curbs were lifted months ahead of what looked like his imminent ascent to the top job. That didn’t prevent his hitting it off with Trump’s predecessor from the word go. It was love at first sight between the son of a Kenyan Muslim and the man who has had a long history of troubled relationship with all things Muslim. Apparently, the same kind of passion is going to dominate Modi’s affair with the incumbent. Indeed, it’s going to be even more fervent, if scenes from the White House Rose Garden and positively glowing tributes paid to each other are anything to go by. What is it that makes Modi and Trump bond? As I had noted ahead of Trump’s election last year, there are many things common between the two men who have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and see themselves as history’s gift to their nations. Indeed, their sense of history begins with their own ascent. Everything that preceded them was wrong and must be corrected. The entire system must be fixed, even if by wrecking it. Commenting on Modi-Trump bromance, Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris write in the New York Times: “Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi have much in common including a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, a nationalist focus on homegrown manufacturing, a fraught relationship with the news media, and electoral campaigns that benefited from the proliferation of fake news.” If this administration has banned people from six Muslim nations, the Modi government has been running an elaborate campaign against Muslims living in the northeast for centuries, declaring them ‘illegal’ and ‘Bangladeshis’. And yes, following the drastic changes this government has introduced in the citizenship and immigration law, India now unconditionally welcomes Hindus living anywhere in the world as citizens, even if their ancestors migrated from India centuries ago. It’s the other way round in the case of Muslims in this open borders policy, even if they have lived and died in this land since time immemorial. This visceral loathing of all things Muslims is what seems to underpin this extraordinary ‘natural’ alliance between the forces on the right in the US and India. As Vijay Prashad argues, the two titans are united in their hatred of Muslims. The proclamations against “Islamic terrorism” and dire threats to Pakistan, Washington’s faithful ally throughout the Cold War and post 9/11 years, therefore hardly come as a surprise. It’s clearly a new world order and the ground has shifted from under Pakistan’s feet. In any case, under Trump the US has concluded that Pakistan has finally outlived its utility in the region. The fact that Washington is nowhere near winning its ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan 16 years and trillions of dollars later doesn’t help. Apparently, Pakistan is to blame if the Afghan Taliban continue to fight and spurn negotiations, much to the frustration of the US and its allies. Incidentally, India and the US are also on the same side in Afghanistan. But this is an alliance that isn’t merely restricted to South and Central Asia. The US has been propping up India for quite some time to check China’s growing clout. Combined with Israel, this trinity of growing, converging interests is a global alliance fighting a common ‘enemy’ in the name of fighting “Islamic terrorism.” Above all, this is an economic relationship. The US is the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of arms and India has the singular distinction of being the largest buyer of those arms. Besides, India is the most tempting, largest untapped market of a billion people over which US manufacturers and investors have been salivating for years. Scarcely surprising then the successive US presidents have been rolling out red carpet for Modi, wooing him despite his eventful past and in the face of what has been unfolding in the country since he swept to power, promising ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’ (inclusion and progress for all). The daily mob attacks and lynching of Muslims across the country, not sparing even women, elderly and children, have no precedence in the country’s history. Modi’s government has not initiated any action against those responsible. Instead, in many cases the authorities have booked the victims for violating cow protection laws! Animals enjoy far greater rights and protection than humans under this government. International rights groups have repeatedly flayed the BJP government for these rising attacks on the minority community but to little effect. In a strongly worded statement last week, Amnesty International noted, “The pattern of hate crimes committed against Muslims with seeming impunity — many of them in states where the BJP is in power — is deeply worrying. Unfortunately both the prime minister and various chief ministers have done little to show that they disapprove of this violence.” This deafening silence of those at the top is precisely why these brazen attacks in full public view and in broad daylight have continued unabated. In the face of all this, the indulgence and mollycoddling of Modi by world powers is not just unfortunate, it emboldens the killers. The country that prides itself on being the land of the free and the global champion of human rights and freedom has yet to break its silence on the issue. The blessed bloc of Islamic nations seems to live in a different world altogether. The only noises made so far have been by rights groups and world media. Thankfully, India’s civil society has also at last started speaking out against the lynchings. After the Muslims silently marked this Eid wearing black armbands, thousands of Indians demonstrated across the country on June 28 in an unprecedented, unusual protest named ‘Not in My Name!’ (Clearly, it was these protests and growing concern in the world media is what seems to have brought about the PM’s belated reaction.) These voices of sanity and reason must be heeded and supported by the world community and global powers who swear by civil liberties and rule of law. The world must speak out and act against Hindutva terror and fascism. For silence is complicity. Silence kills. Aijaz Zaka Syed is an award winning journalist. Email: Aijaz.syed@hotmail.com


July 04, 2017
628 views
HIGHLIGHTS
Opinion
3 days ago

Human Resources Ministry strategies

Opinion
4 days ago

Saudis reject blackmail

Opinion
8 days ago

Toward improving legislative environment