Sunday, July 20, 2014

India's Silent Muslim Community

The Middle East has rarely experienced peace. Violence - religious and sectarian - permeates almost all societies in probably what is the most divisive region in the world.

Currently, there are three major conflicts happening in the region: Syrian civil war (between President Bashar al-Assad, a Shia and backed by Iran, and Sunni rebels, backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations); Iraq (between Shia-dominated government and an umbrella of ultra-extremist Sunni terrorist groups, including the Islamic State), and Israel-Palestine (a decades-old festering conflict between the State of Israel and the militant group Hamas).

I do not condone violence. In fact, violence in the name of religion, caste, sect and other discriminatory dividers is the worst thing that can happen in any society.

The violence in Iraq and Israel has brought to the fore the hypocrisy of the so-called secular parties and deep schism in the Indian Muslim community.

Indian Muslim Community
In Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim protesters railed against Israel accusing it of using violence against Palestinians. The stone-pelting and shrill slogan-mongering protesters lambasted the Jewish state for killing Muslims.

But these slogan-mongering protesters said nothing about the carnage wrought by the Islamic State (formerly called the ISIS) against non-Sunni groups: Shia Muslims, Christians and others. 

Why? Is it ok for Muslims to kill other Muslims, just because they belong to a different sect? Why are there no sane voices in the Indian Muslim community protesting the despicable actions of the Sunni extremist groups against of the minority Shia groups and Christians? 

How many Indian Muslim leaders have condemned the violence in Iraq? How many have registered protest against the mass killings of Shia Muslims by extremist Sunni Muslims? 

Larger Muslim World
Strangely, the global Muslim community is eerily silent on both the crises: Israel-Palestine and Iraq. 

How many countries have come to the rescue of the Palestinians? Except for some murmurs of hollow protest, no Muslim country, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, the so-called leaders of the Muslim world, have come to the aid of the hapless Palestinians? Have not the major Muslim powers abandoned the Palestinians to their luckless fate?

India's Secular parties
In India, we have a strange political strain: self-declared political parties try to outdo each other to prove their secular credentials (read 'pro-Muslim bent').

Eager to outdo each other to score brownie points with the large Muslim community (read 'vote bank'), the Congress and its ilk (like the Samajwadi Party) created a ruckus in the Parliament demanding a discussion on the precarious Gaza situation. These secular parties blasted Israel for using extreme violence against the Palestinians. But they were silent on the use of extreme violence by militant groups, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, against Israel.

And what did they have to say on the volatile situation in Iraq? Nothing. That does not warrant any discussion. Maybe because it involves a sectarian angle -- Sunnis versus Shias. 

It is said that there is collateral damage in any conflict. The death of innocents, especially those of children and women, is distressing. Death has no name. It can not have. Only we, as humans, have assigned the colours of religion, caste and sect, to the blood that runs in us. Divisiveness breeds hatred and discrimination.

One can understand that political parties can stoop to any level to garner votes. But is it right for the Muslim community, both local and global, to adopt different yardsticks for different conflicts -- yardsticks of religion and sect?

Sunday Reads - PM's Dangerous Air India One + Builder of Silicon Valley

  • Why Air India One (Indian PM's aircraft) is a sitting duck for missiles.(India Today)
  • The secretive billionaire who built Silicon Valley. (Fortune)
  • First landing of humans on the Moon. (Atlantic)
  • Pakistan and China: A precarious friendship? (Diplomat)

Bonus: The WaPo has a highly informative feature on 'how high a missile can reach'. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Reads - India-China Friendship is a Lie + The Curse of Organised Religion

  • India-China friendship is a lie. (Foreign Affairs; registration required)
  • Organised religion is more a curse than a blessing - Video interview with Wole Soyinka. (AlJazeera)
  • Looking for Imrana - The petition that led to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the validity of fatwas primarily cited her case. (Indian Express)
  • Neuroeconomists confirm Warren Buffett's wisdom. (CalTech)