The Shocking Saga in Iraq...and the silence of Indian Seculars.
The situation in Iraq as a result of the ruthless advances of the dreaded Al Qaida offshoot ISIS has sent shivers across the world. It is not that terrorism is a new concept and that the world is new to brutality of the Wahabism or Salafism inspired radical terror groups.
However the ruthlessness, the mayhem and the cruelty of ISIS has crossed all limits and the lightning speed at which it conquered almost half of Iraq has made many not just take note of it but also wonder what next is going to happen.
The internet is filled with shocking videos of brutality committed by ISIS terrorists who capture the retreating or surrendered Iraqi soldiers and then go on to decapitate, dismember or crucify them or just shoot them en masse and then post the videos of the same on the internet. India's otherwise vocal secular champions and Muslim leaders however remain conspicuous by their silence on this issue.
The Brutality of Boko Haram...and the shocking silence of Indian Seculars
Yet such rabid hatred and mindless killings or atrocities are not just restricted to Iraq only. Only a couple of months back it was reported about how Boko Haram, another Al Qaida affiliated radical terror group operating in Nigeria, abducted more than 270 girl students.
The only folly of the abducted girls was that they were students in an English medium school which according to Boko Haram is anti-Islam. Apart from the brutal killing of hundreds of people, Boko Haram has stated about its intentions to sell the girls.
Like the rest of the world, India's otherwise vocal secular champions and Muslim clerics remained silent on this issue as well.
The Targeted Killings by Al Shabab-and the silence of the Indian Secular
Incidents such as these orchestrated by Boko Haram in West Africa are being ably complimented by Al Shabab in East Africa where their targeted killing of Non Muslims have continued unabated. And of course not to mention about the mindless persecution of Shias and Sufis in Pakistan which has become more of a norm than an exception. India's otherwise vocal secular champions and Muslim leaders remained silent in this case too.
The Silence of India's educated Muslims over events of Africa and Middle East
But amidst all these mayhems, targeted killings and sectarian violence of gigantic proportions, the most surprising thing is the eerie silence of India's Muslim population, especially the Sunnis on these issues.
Also some of India's television news channels who otherwise tend to champion the cause of secularism and pluralism have at best avoided having discussions on it. Many of those Maulanas and clerics who could be frequently spotted during discussions of communalism and so called victimization of Muslims by non-Muslims , remain silent on issues Middle East and atrocities on Muslims by Muslims.
But one wonders why they are so shy about speaking out on these issues. One wonders why the cold blooded killing of 1700 Iraqi Soldiers by ISIS is not being considered a blatant human rights violation by India's secular champions.
One wonders why India's vocal intellectuals, who spare no occasion to term others as right wing and have hounded Narendra Modi for ten long years, avoid asking the Muslim intelligentsia and clerics about their viewpoint on what Boko Haram is doing or what ISIS just did?
Violent Protests for Rohingyas of Myanmar but not for Shias of Iraq or abducted Girls of Nigeria.
Shefali Vaidya, a well known social media activist writes on her facebook page, ‘Raza Academy protested against the perceived persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and used that excuse to vandalise the Martyr's Memorial at Azad Maidan not too long ago.
Why is the Raza Academy so quiet against the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi soldiers by the ISIS? Are Shias not part of the 'Muslim Brotherhood'?'
Incidentally in August, 2012, Mumbai was witness to a protest march organized by Raza Academy that eventually took the shape of violent riot which resulted in 45 Policemen getting seriously injured, 30 vehicles including police and media vans torched and destroyed, as well as several women constable molested by the mob in addition to desecration of a martyr's memorial. One of the reasons for which the protest rally was organized was the violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
However on the issue of Boko Haram, persecution of Shias by Sunnis, targeted killing of Shias in Iraq, and the spread of radical wahabism, most Muslim organizations have remained silent. The moot questions whether there a fear factor of being isolated in the community which prevents the raising of voice? Is there a tacit support for Boko Haram or the Wahabi violence in Middle East among some sections of Indian Muslims?
Where are India's Human Rights Champions Now?
One then also wonders what makes Arundhuti Roy and her ilk, who spare no occasion to vilify India in front of the world, remain silent on issues of Middle East and Africa. One wonders where are those noted journalists and lyricists who are otherwise very vocal on several issues and spare no occasion to cry foul over issues of discrimination towards Muslims remain silent now.
Are they scared to speak against Wahhabi inspired terror groups? Are they scared to antagonize Saudi Arab which is often suspected to be behind the financing of many Wahabi inspired extremist groups? Do they realize the ramifications of what is happening there have on India and resultant Shia Sunni conflict here?
One is also forced to wonder where Imam Bukhari is now. Why is he not speaking out loud and clear and condemning angrily the atrocities of ISIS, Boko Haram or the brutal execution of Shias in Syria and Iraq?
The Vanishing Act by all Protestors....
So not only there is no protest against the world wide atrocities by extremists, there is also an eerie silence and absolute lack of organized protests on the issue of abduction of 40 Indians by alleged ISIS terrorists in iraq? Why not Raza Academy not vocal now?
Does it indicate that most protests are opportunistic in nature and that when one Muslim kills another Muslim then that issue is treated separately and deliberately not made a subject of debate or scrutiny?
Zulfikar Abbas, an expatriate who returned from Iraq with horrendous experience spoke to ANI and stated that ISIS is worse than animals. Yet there is an uncanny reluctance on the part of many to blame Saudi Arab and its sponsoring of Wahabism and the root cause of most problems.
The dangerous game that Saudis have played to fund Wahabi preaching
It is no more a secret about how the Saudis and other Arab Sunni states have used their petro dollar to sponsor the proliferation of Wahabism across the world. In a study named, ‘ The Involvement of Salafism/ Wahabism in the Support and Supply of Arms to Rebel Groups' prepared by the European Parliament, it is stated, ‘Saudi Arabia has been a major source of financing to rebel and terrorist organizations since the 1970s' and it also narrates how Saudi-based charity and religious organizations are used to raise money for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Haqqani network and LeT.
It is also a known fact as to how the Saudis played a notorious role in funding the jihadi groups fighting the Assad regime. Most of suchrebel groups are affiliated to Al Qaida.
Wahabism is a threat for India as well...and not just for Middle East.
The issue of Saudi financing of terror groups and the resultant surge in terrorist activities is not a concern merely for Middle East. In an article titled, ‘Petro dollar Islam Working to Destroy Moderate Ethos' published in Times of India in November 2012, author Mohammed Wajihuddin states how there are signs of creeping Wahabism in India.
He writes, ‘As promotion of Wahabism is part of Saudi state policy-its religious police unit is called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice-the ideology gets exported through various channels. Dawah (promotion of religion) centres have mushroomed across Saudi Arabia and many organizations in India work as their fronts. Wahabi preachers get bankrolled to promote Wahabism.'
Would the Moderate & Educated Indian Muslim ever raise his voice and condemn the wrongs ?
There is no doubt that a substantial portion of Indian Muslims are more moderate than their Middle Eastern counterparts. Yet, merely stating that terrorism has nothing to do with religion will not serve the purpose.
The above mentioned terror groups have been ideologically indoctrinated to the core and claim to be devout Muslims. It is therefore extremely important for the liberal and educated Muslim to stand up and condemn loudly what the likes of Boko Haram or ISIS are doing.
There is perhaps a need today for street protests and raising the voice to condemn their actions and to state loud and clear that Indian Muslims do not agree to what is happening there and also make sure that the dark shadows of Middle East never cast its spell on India It is important for the educated and liberal Indian Muslim to openly come out and condemn Boko Haram and challenge those rabid mindsets by advocating female education in high pitched voice.
The question is why is all of this not happening? Why is there a stony silence which is increasingly becoming deafening? Silence now may not be considered as disapproval but tacit acceptance and support of mayhem of Middle East and Africa among at least some sections of Indian Muslim community.
Different standards for Communalism and Sectarian Violence?
India continues to be one of the very few or rather exceptional countries where Shias and Ahmadiyas have never been persecuted. It continues to be a nation where Sufi and Hindu saints have converged to create a liberal and pluralistic mindset.
Barring certain exceptions and aberrations, India has been a relatively peaceful nation where religious discriminations generally don't happen. Just as India cannot afford communal violence, it can neither afford sectarian violence. The yardsticks to judge the two cannot be different. Those who are vocal against communalism need to raise their voice a bit against sectarian violence as well.
Sectarian violence as dangerous and repulsive as caste violence is
On issues of caste violence in India, most Indians often raise voice and strongly condemn atrocities on Dalits. India have created strong laws for their protection and states who fail to prevent caste exploitations are vilified left, right and centre by media, the common man as well as the Central Government.
However on issues of sectarian violence in India, on issues of Shia-Sunni conflicts, no special measures have ever been taken to prevent atrocities on minority Shia sect within the Muslim community of India. Therefore, the moot question is, can India afford to have different standards for caste violence, communal violence and sectarian violence?
Therefore, in an increasingly integrating world where news and viewpoints travel through internet faster than light perhaps, India and Indians cannot continue to look at incidents of Africa and Middle East and distant issues anymore.
Conclusion- It is now or never- It is time to raise the voice
In a nation where the likes of Abu Azmi cry loud and demand punishment for raped women as well, there is a strong need for the liberal educated Indian Muslim to now raise his voice. Or else the Edmund Burke quote, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for the good men to do nothing,' would again prove its relevance in today's era..