Interview: 'Orlando massacre has maximised Trump's chances'

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Bengaluru/New Delhi, June 13: Fifty people were massacred at an LGBT night club in Orlando in Florida state of the US early on Sunday in the deadliest mass shooting in the history of that country.

While President Barack Obama called it an "act of terror" and a political fight snowballed between the Democratic and Republican candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ahead of the conventions next month, several questions were doing the rounds about the tragedy.

ghulam rasool dhelvi

Was it an episode of terror on lines of 9/11 or outburst of an individual's anger with a particular sexual orientation? Will this help Trump's cause? Or is the idea of America melting down?

Oneindia spoke to Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, an independent writer, researcher in Culture and Communication Studies and well-versed in Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion, on the issue. Dehlvi is also a frequent commentator on Muslim Affairs in Media and Doctoral Research Scholar at Center for Media & Governance, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi. He is known to write in Hindi, Urdu and Arabic besides doing translation.

Here are a few excerpts of the interview:

Oneindia: Is this incident really about Islamist terror: A US vs IS issue or just an individuals' distaste over sexual orientation?

Dehlvi: The self-imposed Islamic caliphate of Abu Bakr Baghdadi, which is brazenly inconsistent with the essential Islamic values, is based on an exclusivist religious concept of eliminating all democratic and liberal systems of governance from the world, replacing them with an "Islamic State".

This is precisely why the ISIS jihadists keep playing havoc across much of the democrat and liberal world, resulting into the recent nefarious shooting in the club in Orlando, Florida.

At the same time, one wonders how come Omar Mateen, a US citizen who was previously trained by the American Army successfully travelled to join the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq, while the anti-terrorism American agencies kept themselves abreast of the global jihadist recruitments looming large in the region since the creation of ISIS.

orlando shooting site

Sadly enough, the US vs IS issue is becoming more and more obscure, day in and day out. To a common observer, there is something fishy about it.

Oneindia: Will issues like these help Donald Trump's political ambition?

Dehlvi: As long as the jeopardizing atrocities of the violent religious extremism against the liberal democrats are on the rampage in the US, the Republican White House's hopeful nominee Donald Trump's political ambition will continue to flourish.

It is noteworthy that while condemning the horrific massacre of Orlando, the current US President Barack Obama could not go beyond the cliché: "This was an act of terror and an act of hate". [The more Orland-like incidents happen, the more Trump will gain]

This statement came even after the US police have pinned the slaughter on Omar Mateen, a son of Afghan immigrants who reportedly pledged allegiance to Islamic State before going on a rampage with an assault rifle.

Consequently, the President Obama's 'inability' or 'unwillingness' to pinpoint the ideological underpinnings behind the violent extremism has emboldened Donald Trump who is now calling for Obama's resignation.

Doubtless, the Orlando shooting has maximized the chances for Trump to replace Obama in the white House next year. In this context, it should be remembered that a similar 'faith-inspired' terror attack that the IS carried out in San Bernardino, California in 2015 propelled Trump to call for a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Although his call was dismissed at that time by the mainstream American democrats as racist and undemocratic, but the Orlando shooting has prompted him now to centrestage in the 2016 US presidential election.

Oneindia: Is the US as a melting pot losing its credibility with such incidents happening frequently?

Dehlvi: It took a long history for the US to establish itself as a "melting pot". It has been known, throughout the ages, as a land of peace and pluralism, welcoming people from all faith traditions, different countries, races, and all hoping to find full liberties, lucrative job opportunities and a better lifestyle.

The idea that the US has always been a bastion of pluralistic, democratic and universal values is not that shallow to elude the modern historical memory.

Nevertheless, such violent incidents and anti-pluralism atrocities which are happening frequently in the US today may indeed tell upon the historicity and sanctity of its democratic legacy of peace, pluralism and religious freedom.

Oneindia: By painting everything as political, are we not addressing the real issues like gun culture?

Dehlvi: There's more than meets the eye. The growing violent extremism inspired by the radical Islamism in the US, as anywhere else in the world, is not just a law and order problem. Neither it is practically expedient to politicize this grim issue.

There is indeed a 'gun culture' that has deep historical roots in an anti-pluralism, anti-democracy, exclusivist and religio-fascist ideology that continues to cause Islamist radicalisation and violent extremism, stemming from the medieval war culture of the Middle East to the modern American and European nations engaged in the 'war on terror'. At this juncture, the role of intolerant and extremist theology cannot be understated.

In his recently launched 'Islamic Curriculum on Peace and Counter-terrorism', the renowned Pakistan-born Canadian Islamic scholar, known for Sufism and his categorical anti-extremist stand, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has rightly pointed out that some people, either due to genuine ignorance or for other less genuine reasons, try to deflect the blame for religious radicalization entirely to foreign policy and military ventures in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"While these issues no doubt play a significant role in the process of radicalisation, too often the theologically-based narratives which underpin the ideology of the extremists are downplayed or underestimated", he wrote.

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi can be contacted at grdehlavi@gmail.com/rasoolghulam19@yahoo.in.

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