Akbaruddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has once again forced me to sermonize on the communal elements present within our society who leave no stone unturned to engineer communal disturbance. A well wisher of mine had advised me to refrain from writing on such subjects on my Facebook account because she felt that it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth but the truth is that there is an extent to which things can be ignored and elements like these come over and above that point of ignorance. People like Akbaruddin Owaisi, Zaid Hamid, Praveen Togadia, Bal Thackeray etc have mastered the art of spewing venom.
I don’t wish to discuss the filthy matter of Akbaruddin Owaisi’s speech but what I intend to communicate to everyone reading this post is to learn to give a mature response to such bigoted persons instead of tackling them with emotional and angry outbursts. As far as nuisance is concerned, Mr Akbaruddin is not a new kid on the block. In 2007, he along with his party members had threatened to implement a fatwa on Taslima Nasreen which had set aside death penalty for her on charges of blasphemy and he had the audacity to say this even after the then Vice-President Elect and current Vice President Hamid Ansari had led Muslim intellectuals in Hyderabad in issuing a clear cut condemnation of the forces planning to take out an assault on Nasreen. His party, the All India Majlis-e-Ittahadul Muslimeen claims of being a communitarian outfit but during its rallies it becomes somewhat similar to a Muslim version of the Sangh. Just like the RSS has been banned thrice in the past, AIMIM was banned for nearly a decade starting late 1940s because of its association with Razakars which happened to be a Muslim paramilitary organization and played a crucial role in resisting the annexation of Hyderabad to India.
I find no difference in the attitude, demeanor and tone of communalists belonging to different communities. Their arguments are based on a set pattern. The Hindu communalist calls Muslims foreign invaders with a circumcised penis who are barbaric by nature and believe in killing kaafirs and cows. The Muslim communalist says that Hindus worship 33 crore pagan gods who increase every day, they worship the penis and the vagina in the form of the lingam and don’t wash themselves after urinating. These are sickening viewpoints. None of them care about introspection but are quick to point fingers. The Hindu communalist is concerned about Ahmaddiyas and the Muslim communalist is concerned about Shudras even though none of them have ever taken a single step to help the other. It’s time for us to overcome such stupidity by giving it the kind of response it deserves. Akbaruddin Owaisi has benefitted from this because now he is known all across the country. Had we treated him just like the mad dog who keeps barking on the street, he would have still been a nomad except in Andhra Pradesh. What makes the situation even worse is the response of people. Owaisi had said somewhere in his speech that let the police be removed for 15 minutes and we’ll see what happens. In response to this, the most ‘liked’ comment which I came across was the one which said that in Gujarat we had seen what happened when the police was removed for 15 minutes. Trust me it does not help anyone. Grow up ! Stop posting stupid comments and stop burning down embassies. It’ll be better to keep an eye on the courts and ensure that such communal elements are punished.
The shameful incident which took place on Sunday night in South Delhi where a medical student was gang raped in a moving bus is now being discussed all over the nation with great anger. The issue was also raised today in Parliament by the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj. During one of her shows on NDTV, Barkha Dutt emphasized on the societal trauma which rape victims have to go through and she said that instead of shaming the victim, we should start shaming the perpetrators of the crime by referring to the cases not by means of the identity of the girl but by the identity of the man and so I expect everybody to refer to this case as ‘Ram Singh Rape Case’ instead of anything else.
Before we set the ball rolling we need to be clear of a few things. There is no point in relying on the age old rhetoric which says that women have a right to wear what they want, where they go, with whom they go and at what time they go. These are things which have already been established and accepted by law. There cannot even be an iota of compromise in regard to the above mentioned inalienable rights of women. There are some very simple systemic inadequacies due to which such remorseful incidents take place. First, there is an across the board consensus that the law is not as stringent as it should be in cases pertaining to rapes and sexual assaults. There is an urgent need to sanction capital punishment for the perpetrators of such barbarous crimes. Second, we need to ponder over as to what gives a rapist the audacity to do what he does. The answer is simple. The persons who committed the act must have had somewhere in their mind the notion that it was impossible for the police to nab them. This is because Delhi is a city of migrants where people from all corners of the country come. There is no proper regulatory mechanism to monitor and track all the individuals coming into the city. The administration does not know where they live and what work they do. This is the golden administrative loop for a rapist. Commit heinous crimes and then go underground until the matter dies down. It is this anomaly which has to be rectified by means of a well coordinated National Citizen Tracking initiative where the Aadhar card can play a big role. Past experience tells us that such incidents regularly take place in moving vehicles. This mischief can be countered by ‘red lights’. If there is regular flashing of signals on the road (as is the case in Delhi) along with the deployment of no less than two police professionals at every signal then the damage caused due to such incidents can be substantially reduced. A moving bus or car cannot break the signal. All police officials need to do is to be alert and keep an eye.
Another important aspect of rape cases is the respectful resettlement of the innocent girls. No amount of money can do justice to them but still the exchequer should do its bit. Along with this, in order to prevent victims from further turmoil, the government should by means of legislation make it a crime to indulge in any sort of discrimination (including verbal slurs) against a girl on account of her being raped. This will provide rape victims with some relief as rape victims are generally denied employment by misogynists. This nation is also in need of urgent police reforms. Tehelka’s sting operations in Noida effectively proved the misogyny and prejudice carried by our cops (including female ones) in relation to women who go to pubs, wear revealing outfits and roam outside late at night with friends belonging to the opposite sex. I feel that the entrance examinations to services like the police should include subjective questions on the issue of gender equity so that the perspectives of the candidates are clearly brought forth before their appointment and they should be grilled on the same during the interviews. Lastly and most importantly, the bigger question lies in ensuring the overall safety of women in our country. Our country is going through a tumultuous period of time where we are evolving from a feudal agricultural society to an advanced and industrialized one. This is a painstaking journey which breaks the shackles of bigotry and parochialism. Five decades back in the United States, the African American community was referred to by means of a harsh five letter word beginning with the letter ‘N’. That practice has now been nearly finished. No legislation was passed to do so. It’s purely a civilizational achievement brought due to advancement in education and science. I expect the same to bring about a radical change in the attitude of the Indian society in relation to equality of sexes. As far as men are concerned, there is only one piece of advice which I have for them which has been taken from a recent write-up of a girl on Tehelka which says, “My body is mine and you are not allowed to touch it without my permission whoever you are – friend acquaintance or lover.”
While reading about the controversy which sprung up in the late 1980’s surrounding Salman Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, I came across the fact that Radical Islamist Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who proclaimed the now infamous decree of death on Rushdie for insulting the Islamic Prophet, claimed that he based his judgement on a Quranic verse ie 9:61 which actually says, “Among them are those who vex the Prophet by saying, ‘He listens to everyone.’ Say, his listening to everyone is good for you; he believes in God and puts his trust in the faithful and is a mercy to those of you who believe. Those who annoy God’s messenger shall have a painful punishment.” Khomeini was very smart by emphasizing on the term ‘painful punishment’ but he actually took the verse out of context. The painful punishment over here is not to be given by humans and it doesn’t refer to blasphemy at all. It’s something which is entirely spiritual and is related to the concept of afterlife. The context of this ‘painful punishment’ lies in the 63rd Verse which states, “Do they not know that whoever opposes God and His Messenger shall abide forever in the fire of Hell. That is the Supreme Humiliation’.
The reality is that the punishment for blasphemy is not mentioned in the Quran at all. In fact this punishment is actually a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition as it is clearly mentioned in the Book of Leviticus (24:16) of the Old Testament of the Bible. Some of the fundamentalist scholars like Zakir Naik cite another verse mentioned in the Quran (5:33) to suggest that the punishment for blasphemy is death but that is not what that verse talks about. That verse prescribed four types of punishments (Including death and banishment) for those who were waging war against God and His Messenger. Waging war doesn’t mean demeaning by means of words. The reference made over there was towards those people who were waging war against the Muslims and Prophet Muhammad while they were living peacefully in Medina. In the battles which followed, the Muslims defeated them and Muhammad forgave many of the enemies of the Muslims. The facts on the table clearly dismantle the clerical theory of ‘death for blasphemy’. Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa was in fact driven by political opportunism. Khomeini gave that fatwa on February 14th, 1989, approximately a year after the book was released and by that time no less than 5 nations had already banned the book. Khomeini’s fatwa was Islamically wrong as well as a desperate attempt of his to get into a conflict with the West. In the past also he had done so by supporting the Iran Hostage Crisis which held captive 52 Americans and lasted for 444 days.
However, my denouncement of Khomeini’s fatwa does not mean that I support Rushdie’s book or the absolute right of freedom of speech. The Satanic Verses is full of dunk and contains such filthy language that I am sure Rushdie must have picked it up from the gutters of Bombay. This supposed masterpiece of English Literature uses over 100 Hindi slang words. Rushdie has used 16 Hindi words on the first page of the book itself. The word ‘fucking’ is mentioned 52 times in the book while the word ‘bastard’ is mentioned 29 times. This book has spared no one and is an insult to anyone and everyone. On the first page itself, Rushdie calls Londoner’s ‘bastards’. Margaret Thatcher is called a ‘fucking bitch’ on Page 269 of the book. He even writes of having sex with the Queen of England. On page 80 of the book, the Transgender community has been ridiculed. The expression which has been used for them is ‘hijras, chutias, shits’. This books smells of racism as on Page 461 it says, “Nigger [Black Man] eats white man’ shit.” Rushdie attacks and disgraces white women in his book by stating, “White women never mind fat, Jewish or non deferential, white women were for fucking and throwing over.” He has intentionally named the characters playing the role of prostitutes in his book after the wives of Prophet Muhammad. He has also disparaged Ram and Sita. On page 539 of his book, he has termed Ram as ‘drunk and lecherous’ ie a drunk man with a big sexual appetite and Sita as ‘flighty’. Rushdie did not even spare those who stood by him during his tough times. On page 392 he wrote, “There is no difference between writers and whores”. He labeled the British as ‘sister fucking’ and Americans as ‘fucking’ and these were the very people who saved him. Ironical indeed !
Whenever the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is brought up for discussion an inevitable polarization takes place with the intelligentsia present on both the sides coming up with arguments and counter arguments to negate the other side’s stand on the issue. The overall dispute is complex to understand but the doorway to resolving the dispute lies in realizing two basic things.
The first one is what I call the ‘Palestinian Perspective’. There is little doubt that Israel has occupied a significant portion of the territory illegally and has been committing human rights abuses in the region since decades. Secondly, the undemocratic attitude adopted by Israel by depriving Palestinians of their due rights has given the Palestinian demand for statehood complete legitimacy and no matter how fiercely this demand is resisted, an independent state of Palestine will one day be a reality and it is something which is truly deserved by the oppressed Palestinians. The other part of the story is what can be termed as ‘Israel’s Rightful Assertions’. The bottom line is that no country on the face of the Earth can deny the right of Israel to exist as a nation. Secondly, there are definitely some major problematic persons within the Israeli administration but the world should stop demonizing Israel (Especially the Arab World) and recognize the fact that the Jews have themselves been a heavily persecuted lot in the past and the atrocities meted out on the Jews in places like Nazi Germany cannot be denied.
Both the sides need to get back to the negotiating table but there cannot be talks until and unless extremist Islamist and Zionist elements are not defeated. We should have full sympathy for the innocent civilians who died in the Gaza strikes but we should not think twice before condemning Hamas as a terror outfit. Leaders in the Arab World should stop sympathizing with Hamas who has been on a terror spree since quite a while. Recently, Hamas circulated videos on the net stating that ‘killing Jews was an act of worship’. In fact they have even killed many Palestinians who did not support them and instead voted for Fatah. There should be no recognition of any kind for such an outfit and the world should also be wary of the extremist Zionists who are bent upon using the state machinery to carry out a genocide in Gaza and don’t hesitate twice before saying that they’ll ‘keep on bombing Gaza till it goes back to the Middle ages’. Lastly and most importantly, the world community should ensure that in the coming future, none of the sides be it Israel or Palestine, turns into a totalitarian state run by supremacist Zionists or Islamists.