Dr Javed Jamil
WHAT happened in France a few days back was a series of one highly immoral and hateable incident after the other. First, there was a highly provocative action by a teacher. The teacher in his history class displayed the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, and this infuriated most of the Muslim students who thought it to be yet another offense against their religion.
One student chased the teacher when he was on way back home, and beheaded him. Within no time, the police came into action, and instead of capturing him alive and trying in Court, he was immediately shot and killed. Then, without proper investigation, it was labeled an Islamic terror attack by French authorities. The display of the caricatures was despite the fact that in the last 5 years, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, the authorities knew it very well how painful it is for Muslims to see this worst kind of Islamophobia, where their Prophet, who they love more than themselves, is pictured, caricatured and talked about in a highly derogatory and offensive way.
The action of Muslim student was condemnable, but the action of the teacher is even more condemnable, and the police action too needs to be condemned. Shootings and mass shootings in the West are a common occurrence, but if the offender had been a Christian or a Jew, the chances of his having been killed were minimal.
What is the history of Muslims in France?
France has a long history of suppression of Muslims. As a major colonial power, France invaded and occupied several African Muslim countries in the Nineteenth Century. They invaded Algeria around 1830 and continued occupation for around one and a half century. During Freedom struggle, around one million native Muslims are believed to have lost lives. French occupation led to the migration of a large number of African workers to France where they worked like bonded labour. Many played important role in the development of infrastructure and also fought for France in the Second World War.
France has a Muslim population of around 6 million. Out of them around 100000 are converted Muslims. This means about one tenth of the population of France is Muslim. But Muslims there have always been subjected to all kinds of suppression. They are physically and psychologically harassed by the majority groups, and they are often targeted because of their religious beliefs, colour and origin.
Their numbers in jobs is significantly less due to prevalent discrimination, and their population in prisons is relatively high on account of the discriminatory behaviour of Law Enforcing agencies. In 1961, when Muslims of African background organised a big rally in favour of Algeria’s Independence, police brutally fired at them killing several hundreds. Though Islamophobia has always been there, in recent past, especially following Charles Hebdo, it has become more provocative. Unfortunately though, while Muslim reaction is under target, French authorities are not taking any concrete steps to curb Islamophobic elements.
If the Muslim reaction to French historical oppression is justified, then why is Hindu reaction to historical Muslim (rulers) oppression not?
In India, Muslim rulers have largely been highly secular in character and they mingled with Hindu population. Hindus formed a significant part of the armies of most Mughal and other Muslim rulers. Except Aurangzeb and Mahmud Ghaznawi, there is hardly any charge of converting against any other ruler. And a large number of historians have countered the propaganda spread by certain anti-Muslim elements about Aurangzeb and Babar. The rulers like Ashoka have a history of much much bigger bloodshed and conversion. As Hindu, he killed more than one and a half lakh people, and when he converted to Buddhism, he forced conversion of most Indians to his new religion.
If Muslim rulers had been as bad as campaigned by Hindu hate lobby, why there was no nationwide Freedom Struggle movement against Mughals like it happened against Britishers? And why the Freedom Movement against British Occupation began under the leadership of the Last Mughal King Bahadurshah Zafar. Finally, no counteraction on the basis of what happened several hundred years back can be justified in any civilised society.
How should violence be defined?
Interestingly, “violence” has become a keyword in the armoury of the current world forces led by West only through a partisan definition. “Terrorism” to them is violence but “war against terror” is not violence, the killing of civilians by terrorists is violence but the killing of the civilians by their forces is not violence, the killing of “female foetuses” is violence (female foeticide) but the killing of foetuses without the knowledge of their sex (abortion) is not violence, a death sentence to criminals is condemnable violence but murders of common people is not violence or at least not a condemnable form of violence, and so on.
Obviously, any violence that is related or can be indirectly related to religion or other factors not related to Westernism or is directed against the institutions of Westernism automatically becomes reprehensible and worthy of condemnation in harshest possible terms. To control this form of violence, all possible measures including full-scale wars and invasions can be adopted. Every possible method is employed to present this violence as barbaric. On the other hand, the violence, which is directly or indirectly related to New World Order driven by the forces of economics, is kept hidden and if at all there is a discussion on it, they are described as unavoidable or collateral damage, which needs to be understood and managed.
See the following list of deaths caused by various reasons of violence in last 25 years:
Alleged Terrorism by Muslims: Around 25000
Alleged Terrorism by other communities including Hindus and Christians: Around 300000
Wars (mostly waged or supported by West): Around 2 million
Murders: 50 million
Abortions (induced): 1 billion
More than 2 million murders take place worldwide everywhere. In US alone, more than 200,000 people are assaulted with murderous intents every year (more than 18,000 are killed). And yet Muslims alone are the target of hate for indulging in terrorism, which again in most cases is the result of the oppressive policies of West in Muslim countries.
Are Muslims “The Terrorists”? Radical West Vs Radical Islam
This propaganda that Muslims are terrorists first started with 9/11, and then in countries like India, anti-Muslim groups picked up. They all talk of Radicalization of Islam. The truth is that Radicalization of West and Radicalization of Hindus in India are posing much greater threat.
Look at the American interventions in the Middle East. The latest round of extreme radicalization of America began with 9/11 attacks. Those, whoever they were, who executed the plan perished with the planes. The accused mastermind — a formal enquiry was not even required for the American administration to act on its assumptions – was killed in an isolated attack about 11 years later in Pakistan. In between the coalition led by the US devastated two countries and killed 2 million innocents who had nothing to do with 9/11. But the international media did never allow the role of West to be debated as Terrorism, and whenever terrorists’ attacks occur, there is a repeated focus on the radicalization of Islam and Muslims. Nobody dares to ask the Western powers why they killed 2 million innocents, and how they should be made to compensate for this colossal loss of lives.
In recent years, Western role has been prominently there in all the conflicts in the Middle East. But again, it can be seen that their weapons go to the side, which toes their lines, and against those which have refused to surrender to their diktats. And always, the media would blame the loss of lives on the forces that are not pro-West. In past also, West has systematically terrorised Palestinians, which in fact has been one of the major reasons for Muslim anger against West in last 6 decades.
West thinks that West alone knows what is best; and West alone knows how to act or react. What else can be a more extreme form of radicalization? All others forms of Radicalization in the current world including “Radical” Islam are the product, direct or indirect, of Western radicalism. If the world is to be saved from chaos and devastation, the only solution is to abandon all forms of radicalization. And before asking others, West being the leader will have to abandon it, not in parts but in totality. Others will automatically fall in line.
If I wanted, I would have replaced “Radical West” with “Radical Christianity”. Western countries have an overwhelming majority of Christians, and most of the Western political leaders and armymen are Christians, at least in birth if not practice. It is also well-known that many Western leaders including George Bush have had deep religious commitments. But I purposely avoided it because it is not the religion but their political and economic ambitions that give rise to radicalism.
Similarly, if a few Muslims fall to radicalism, it is their reaction to West’s political designs (or those of other elements hostile to Islam or Muslims) and not their (West’s) religious beliefs, which drive them to react in a violent way. Even otherwise, it is nonsense to describe violence more worthy of condemnation if it has any direct or indirect relation with religion than if is related to any secular ideology. The magnitude and not the identity of the perpetrators and victims nor the motive and the method should be more important in planning the solution.
What is noticeable is that in America, for example, more than one thousand people are killed in mass shootings every year. But it will become news only when it is either Muslims or Blacks who are involved. The killing by Whites will not be called Christian Terrorism but killing by a Muslim will be immediatrely labelled as Islamic Terrorism.
Every single death of an innocent needs to be condemned, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator and the victim, irrespective of the motivating ideology, religious or non-religious and irrespective of the method used; and the condemnation and response should be proportionate to the magnitude of violence rather than the identities of those involved.
How should Muslims combat this Islamophobia worldwide and in India?
Muslims have to give up their apologetic and defensive attitude. The Forces of Falsehood keep questioning Islam and Muslims, and poor Muslims just keep answering their questions. There are innumerable questions and counter questions that need to be thrown at those forces but Muslim intellectuals are total failures in that fight.
Ideological Empowerment is the key to confidence, proper planning and ultimate success. It involves proper knowledge and understanding of Islam, its application in all the spheres of life, individual, family, social and systematic, proper understanding of the major ideologies governing the world and their impact, an insight into the global and national policies and the ability to counter the propaganda unleashed by vested interests against Islam and Muslims.
Islamic/Muslim scholars tend not to be aggressive in their approach, and often exhibit sectarian bias. Instead of focusing on the faults and discrepancies of the new dispensations that are numerous, they continue to dissipate their energies in erecting defences around their faith. By the time, they defeat the mischievous propaganda unleashed against one principle or practice, the opponents, supported by the economic fundamentalists, open another front. The ideological war goes on unabated; but, this is still being fought in the domains of Islam. Islamic scholars have forgotten that, for ultimate triumph, the battle-line is to be pushed into the domain of the enemies.
They have to question the World, especially the West:
Why is there no focus on the rising crime rates in the world especially in Western countries despite their huge law enforcing machinery and generally good economic conditions? Does it not point to the inefficiency of their law system and the prevalence of social conditions leading to crimes?
Why is there focus only on certain kinds of violence and not on others, which are much more lethal in effect?
Why focus only on violence caused by honor killing and not on violence caused by sexual partners, despite huge difference between the two?
When talking of women, why focus on polygamy and not on promiscuity which causes huge medical and social problems? Why no big plans to uproot prostitution which has engulfed more than 100 million women by forcing or luring them?
How can commercialization and globalization of practices that kill millions be allowed?
In a world where human rights is such a big issue, how come induced abortions leading to more than 50 million loss of human embryos does not become a major cause of concern?
How come suicides taking hundreds of thousands of lives do not attract the attention of the protectors of life?
How come, the powerful nations of the world keep invading countries and sponsoring civil wars leading to millions of deaths and not attracting any punishment?
Why is there no debate on Western role in the genesis of Terrorism and the focus remains on Islam’s or Muslims’ role? Terrorism is an illegitimate response to illegitimate wars and the machinations of West in the Muslim World. For one illegitimate response to end, the other illegitimate is to be put to an end. This is true for India as well where much larger terrorism caused by Rightist and Leftist Hindus is ignored and Muslim Terrorism is discussed day and night?
Why is there always a debate on Jihad in Islam and not on military ideologies and methods of Western countries? The military ideologies of other religions too including Christianity and Hinduism advocate much greater militarization than Islam.
If democracy is important, how come this is not applicable to United Nations where 5 Big Powers have the right to veto any resolution even if it has the support of an overwhelming majority of nations?
Muslims have continuously been at the receiving end. When terrorism attacks occur anywhere in the world, including on Indian soil, Muslims are declared culprits till proved otherwise.
The Muslim organisations and NGOs of Muslims all over the world must form an umbrella organisation and engage in a global campaign against violence, vices, hegemony and economic disparity. They must announce and organize special annual days like anti-prostitution day, anti-alcohol day, anti-gambling day, anti-crime day, anti-rape day, anti-disparity day, family peace day, moral values day, etc, and on each of these days must organize seminars, workshops and protests within the laws of the lands.
Muslim World also fails to react at the right time in an appropriate way. The release of the Chilcot Report in 2016 in UK confirmed the West’s crime of war against Iraq. Ideally the entire world would have stood united and demanded severest possible punishment to the perpetrators of a crime that led to the . But when the lives lost were mostly of Muslims, why should the world bother about it? Even if the rest of the world had not done what it must have done, the Muslim World must have gone mad after US-British led West and had demanded an immediate apology to the whole Muslim world, the payment of at least 5 trillion dollars in compensation and a firm commitment of total disengagement from their lands.
Then Another report appeared in London, this time on Libya, which clearly stated that the attack on Libya was totally unwarranted. The Libyan intervention has already resulted in the loss of more than one hundred thousand lives. Yet, there has been no call for declaring these slaughters of human beings as “carnages”, no feeling of compunction in the Western capitals, no clear apologies, no talk of any compensation and no promise of non-intervention in the future.
By just continuing to defend their positions, Muslims cannot hope to challenge the current international ideologies. Counter-attack, ideological onslaught and social movements through peaceful means are the need of the time. Muslims must realize that the challenge to the Truth of Islam does not come from other religions but the global forces of economics and politics, and they must make every possible effort to take all other religions in their fight for Comprehensive Peace in the world. And of course, they have to continue to keep disseminating information about Islam in its entirety, especially its extraordinary ability to provide protection against diseases and crimes.