Narendra Modi’s double standards on terrorism

Narendra Modi tends to demonise Muslims by lionising the usage of terms like "Islamic terrorism" but is enraged when he comes across the term "saffron terrorism." Isn't such a position overtly against minorities whom the RSS loathes? (Image: Associated Press)

Narendra Modi tends to demonise Muslims by lionising the usage of terms like “Islamic terrorism” but is enraged when he comes across the term “saffron terrorism.” Isn’t such a position overtly against minorities whom the RSS loathes? (Image: Associated Press)

Terrorism has no religion. It has no colour. It is neither Islamic nor Hindu. It cannot even be classified into green and saffron. But yes, terrorism by Muslims and Hindus does exist, and can be more appropriately referred to as “Islamist terror” and “Hindutva terror”. The former being representative of political Islam while the latter being that of political Hinduism.

But how does Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi view terrorism? Does he approve of linking the name of a particular religion to terrorism?

Shortly after 9/11, Rajdeep Sardesai hosted a television debate on The Big Fight to discuss the repercussions of the tragedy which had claimed thousands of lives in the USA.

Narendra Modi was present on the occasion representing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) point of the view on the subject. As the debate began, Modi delivered a shocking remark stating that despite the activities which had been going on, the Indian media was so caught up in “pseudo-secularism” that they were afraid of using the term “Islamic terrorism”. He argued that after the downing of the Twin Towers, the global media had started identifying the core problem and he would like to “congratulate” Rajdeep for being courageous enough to bring this topic to the table.

“Somwaar tak, last Monday tak, Hindustan ka media, anek kargujari ke bawajood bhi Islamic terrorism yeh shabd upyog karne ka sahas nahi karta tha kyunki unka pseudo-secularism unpar itna haawi tha ki satya bolne ki inki himmat nahi thi. Kal mangalwaar ko, last mangalwaar ko, jab duniya ke akhbaar yeh likhne lage, America ki ghatna ke baad, tab pehli baar aur main Rajdeep ke iss initiative ka main abhinandan karta hoon ki sach ko sach ke roop mein pesh karne ka unhone sahas dikhaya hai. Jahan tak Islam ka sawaal hai, uske bahut ache pehlu hai, aaj jo log hai woh Islam ka kis roop se upyog kar rahe hai yeh sawaal hai.”- Narendra Modi after 9/11

Modi’s compliments were immediately brushed off by Sardesai, who said that they did not use the term “Islamic terrorism”. They also invited a rebuke from Rafiq Zakaria (who has since passed away) who asked what terrorism had “got to do with Islam.”

In his opening remarks, Modi did say that Islam has good and bad aspects and the real question pertains to how it is being used in today’s time. But his happiness over the usage of the term “Islamic terrorism” was undoubtedly immature and incorrect.

Contrast this with Modi’s response to the Congress when Sushil Kumar Shinde made the infamous “bhagwa” or “saffron” terror charge. In a speech delivered in typical Modi rage, he asked how saffron terror can exist when the same colour was a part of the “tiranga” or the national tri-colour.

He argued that the tricolour was saluted by soldiers of the Indian army and they were not terrorists. He spoke of Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayanand Saraswati stating that monks who sacrifice everything in search of salvation wear saffron robes.

He angrily asked the crowd, “Was Swami Vivekananda a terrorist? Was Swami Dayanand Saraswati a terrorist?” Lastly, Modi said that Hindu temples hoist saffron flags and threw yet another question at the crowd, “Are our temples centres of terrorism?”

Modi’s hypocrisy and double standards on terrorism are evident when one listens to his views on “Islamic” and “saffron” terrorism, respectively. If terrorism has no religion then how can it be termed as “Islamic” when it cannot be branded as “Hindu” or “saffron”?

In a recent speech delivered before a gathering of Christians, Prime Minister Modi said, “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.”

He added, “My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions.”

This is precisely what Modi hasn’t done in his previous utterances. He tends to demonise Muslims by lionising the usage of terms like “Islamic terrorism” but is enraged when he comes across the term “saffron terrorism.” Isn’t such a position overtly against minorities whom the RSS loathes?

It’s time for us to go beyond symbolism. Modi remained quiet when members of the Sangh Parivar were hogging the limelight day in and day out courtesy their incendiary remarks. Following US President Barack Obama’s criticism of religious intolerance in India and the debacle in the Delhi Assembly elections, Modi seems to have given a politically crucial message reassuring the Christian community of their safety. But this surely isn’t enough.

Modi has to outgrow his own prejudices. If extremism by a bunch of Hindus cannot be described as saffron terrorism then neither can one label the activities of al-Qaeda and ISIS as Islamic terrorism. The process of racial profiling has to be halted and the first person who needs to change his mentality is Narendra Modi.

(This article was originally published in The Huffington Post.)


Glamourizing terror? Rambo and Obama do it better!


The controversial cover page of Rolling Stone which allegedly “glamourizes” Boston bombing suspect, Dzokhar Tsarnaev (Rolling Stone)

A popular magazine in the United States by the name of Rolling Stone has courted controversy by placing a glamorous image of Dzokhar Tsarnaev on the cover page of its latest issue which will hit the stores on August 3rd. Dzokhar Tsarnaev happens to be an accused in the Boston Marathon Bombings which took place on April 15th this year and led to the death of 3 people besides injuring 264. Dzokhar carried out the entire attack in complicity with his elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev. While Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in the shootout which occurred between the brothers and Boston police, Dzokhar was arrested in an injured state and has been charged with several offences pertaining to terrorism. The attack carried out by the brothers was in retaliation to what the brothers considered to be an unjust and hostile foreign policy of the United States towards Muslim majority countries.

Coming back to the core issue, the Rolling Stone’s latest move has attracted sharp reactions from persons based both inside and outside the United States. Some have given a call for boycotting this issue of the magazine. However, the intimidating response which the magazine has attracted appears “immature” and “shallow in perception”. There has not been a single news report which has suggested that the Rolling Stone have anywhere by means of its content tried to justify the act of terrorism and butchery carried out by Dzokhar Tsarnev. The head caption on the cover reads “The Bomber” and the text printed underneath it reads “How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”

The subtext makes it quite evident that Rolling Stone’s cover story attempts to trace the personal journey of Dzokhar from being an everyday college going lad to a terror bomber. The allegation that the photograph used promotes terrorism or glamourizes it would be more suitable for those Facebook fan pages and groups where American girls have described Dzokhar as “cute” and have asked for him to be “pardoned”. It would also apply to Internet sympathizers of Dzokhar who actively lend support to the acts of terror carried out by the likes of Dzokhar in response to what they consider to be a “ruthless assault of America on Islam and Muslims.”

The American entertainment industry however cannot be totally absolved from the allegation of lionzing terror as was done in Sylvester Stallone starrer Rambo. The representation of Afghan Mujahideen as patriotic freedom fighters fighting against Soviet repression was done effectively and repeatedly by Hollywood as part of CIA-sponsored propaganda against communism. The world today is aware of the havoc which was caused by these mujahideen once they came to power in Afghanistan. If American human rights activists are genuinely opposing glamourization of terror then they should not only condemn several award-winning movies made in the 1980s but they should also stand in opposition to US President Barack Obama’s decision to lace Syrian rebels (associates of Al Qaeda) with weapons to fight the illegitimate regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. We need to categorically realize two things in regards to the Syrian conflict: First, the United Nations and not the United States has to take the lead in toppling the Assad regime which is guilty of fuelling a conflict which has left 93,000 people dead and second, the United States cannot aid an Al-Qaeda affiliate group when Al Qaeda itself is responsible for murdering thousands of innocents citizens across the world. Till Washington doesn’t take such a step, there is no point in misinterpreting and blowing out of proportion a story whose purpose is nothing but to bring to its readers the transformation of a boy into a terrorist.

The Anti-Semitic Rhetoric of the Arabs

Muslim women exhibit antisemitism through a pro-Hitler poster.

Muslim women exhibit antisemitism through a pro-Hitler poster. (Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem)

US foreign policy towards the Middle East is characterized by its strong support for the Jewish state of Israel. The neighbouring Arab countries view this as a nexus between Zionists and Capitalists who are bent on exploiting the poor Palestinian Arabs based in the occupied territories. Based on this premise, Israel has become the most demonized country in the region, a nation which has been facing diplomatic embargo from several countries since decades.

While there is no denying that the Israeli administration is responsible for carrying out some of the most monstrous human rights violations in Palestine, there can also be no justification for the kind of Anti-Semitic rhetoric which has become inseparable with the political discourse in the Middle East. Much of the Jew bashing in Arab land goes on in the name of the Nakba ie the exodus of Arabs from Palestine during the Civil War in Mandatory Palestine and 1948 Arab – Israeli War. It is said that more than 700,000 Arabs were made to either flee their homes or expelled during the tensions. The Arabs do have a logical point in regards to this argument but they never talk about the exodus of the Jews from Arab land. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War led to the expulsion of 800,000 – 1 million Jews from Arab countries.

The Arab countries have also witnessed a systematic decrease in the population of Jews. Prior to the six day war between Arabs and Israel in 1967, there were some 7000 Jews in Libya. The war led to intense persecution of Jews in Libya. Half of them were pushed into Egypt and the remaining in the river Nile. Less than 100 Jews were left in the African nation. Today, the Jewish race has become extinct in Libya. When the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran in 1977, the population of Iranian Jews stood at 80,000. Now it has come down to 30,000. Afghanistan had a very small population of Jews. Many of them must have returned back to Israel courtesy the Right to Return. However, whatever number of Jews remained in Afghanistan, which varied between 500 – 1000, were all forcibly converted by the Taliban. The conflict between the Arabs and Israel has not only led to the persecution of the Palestinians but also the Jews.

It’s common to see Sheikhs speaking on television shows and giving Friday sermons say that the Jews are the biggest enemies of Islam. They assert that this is a Quranic fact as stated in Verse 82 of Surah Al Maidah. One should wonder about the slyness of such people as they have developed expertise in taking Quranic verses out of their context. Have they forgotten that when Prophet Muhammad and Muslims were being persecuted by Pagans in Mecca, it was the Jewish community based in Medina which came to their rescue and gave them a place to live besides them? Doesn’t the Quran say in Chapter 2, Verse 62, “The believers, Jews, Christians, Sabians and all those who believe in God and the last day and do good deeds shall be rewarded and shall have nothing to fear?”

Fanatic Arab Muslims have developed a habit of blaming Jews for whatever goes wrong on the basis of conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, this virus has spread even among the Muslims of Pakistan and India. One famous conspiracy theory states that 9/11 was staged by Zionist Jews in coordination with CIA and Muslim hijackers had no role to play in the tragedy which unfolded in the United States and led to over 6000 deaths. These conspiracy theories vary in their narrations. While some say that the Jews didn’t go to work on September 11, others say that they left the building before the aircrafts crashed into the World Trade Centre. This is a viewpoint which is not merely propagated by some Islamic scholars but also politicians including Ex Iranian President and a Former Egyptian Minister. Did these people not see the interviews given by Osama Bin Laden in the aftermath of the tragedy? Did Osama Bin Laden not take responsibility for carrying out the attack? Did he not glorify the murderous hijackers? All these questions are never addressed by the ones who moot such lies in the public domain.

Some conspiracy theories also have a pinch of humour associated with them. One of them suggests that Pepsi stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”. The supporters of this theory argue that Muslims should not boy Pepsi bottles because the money which is collected from the sale of this product is eventually sent to the Israeli establishment which carries out various forms of discrimination against the Palestinians. One Iranian Professor claimed that the famous cartoon ‘Tom & Jerry’ began as a part of a Jewish conspiracy. He stated that when the Jews were having a bad time in Europe, one of the names given to ridicule them was that of ‘dirty mice’. The Jewish Walt Disney Company in order to change the perception regarding mice started Tom & Jerry in which the protagonist was a mouse who was made to appear intelligent and cute on the screen. The whole point behind this initiative was to benefit of Jews.

The conspiracies and denials which form a part of Arab discourse regarding Israel and Jews are too many to be covered in a single write-up. They range from denial of the holocaust to stereotypes like all Jews are rich and they make use of the blood of a male Christian child during the Passover. It’s time that such absurd claims are debunked and Arab intellectuals approach this subject with some responsibility and rationality. It’s utterly important to settle the question of Palestine but those who are opposing normalization of diplomatic ties between Arab countries and Israel do not realize that no settlement can be arrived at without a dialogue.

9/11 – Ten Years Down the Line: A Generalization

9/11 will undoubtedly go down in history as “the” incident of the decade 2000-2009. It was an event which defined the very tone of the first decade of the 21st century. The role played by 9/11 in the War Against Terrorism was somehow ironically equivalent to the role played by the sinking of RMS Lusitania and the attack on Pearl Harbour during the 1st and the 2nd World War respectively.

The entire world knows that the United States is a self appointed protector of humanity and they also happen to be the ultimate capitalists working with the intention of creating an unchallenged monopoly in the market. They use certain terms to justify all their actions. Those terms are liberty, democracy and republicanism. The United States has actively used these terms to wage “just wars” as they claim. After getting its independence from the British, the United States embarked upon a long journey. They had a great amount of self belief and this was accompanied with immeasurable grit and determination. This helped the United States to defy all the odds and emerge as the single largest power in the world after the collapse of the USSR but this dream was fulfilled only after doctoring endless number of sinister deeds. The United States and the USSR were stacked against each other in a battle for supremacy. Both the countries tried to dislodge the other in order to become the creditor of the world. We all know that the only thing that is common in politics all around the globe is the anti incumbency attitude of the common masses. This was the time when the United States took great advantage of this worldwide psychology. It wiped out Communism from Europe but was unable to influence the leaders of USSR who were bent upon carrying on with this system of governance. The United States did all that it could to make Communism unpopular and infamous by projecting capitalism as the only means via which poverty could be overcome. The United States blindly pursued this propaganda on the global level but it didn’t give them the desired results and so the United States developed the most draconian foreign policy by making terrorism a part of it. They decided to topple Anti-US regimes with the help of terrorists.

There were certain sections of society in Anti-US countries who were greatly frustrated with the political situation of their country. They were anti-social elements who could have gone on to every possible extent to gain power and to take charge of the proceedings. The United States entered into a pact with them. The United States bred those fanatics and helped them in nurturing their dream of toppling the existing regime. Not only did the United States assist them financially, they also gave them training and weapons to fight with thus adding fuel to the fire. The fanatics bred by USA grew in size and became alarmingly volatile. They were projected as freedom fighters by the United States and many Hollywood movies released during that time projected them as heroes fighting for liberty. They became a part of US’s popular folklore. Fanatics in different countries along with the help of the United States dislodged Anti-US governments and came to power. The USSR finally collapsed and thus began USA’s reign as the numero-uno country.

The fanatics, whom the United States bred, had now become enormously powerful. The United States had expected to benefit from them but this didn’t happen. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. After garnering power they refused to toe USA’s line and refused to entertain or acknowledge them. An ignorant person is the one who spits while looking upwards and doesn’t expect that spit to come back on his face. Those fanatics were like that spit and USA was like that ignorant person. They helped terrorists to come to power and they expected them to frame Pro-US laws but this didn’t happen because those terrorists wanted to be the bosses themselves. USA had been betrayed and it vowed to take its revenge. The same set of people who were once projected as freedom fighters were now being projected as terrorists by the United States. Tensions accelerated between the two sides and the fanatics executed the most insane massacre in the history of the human civilization which came to be known as 9/11. The United States was brutalized. It finally decided to launch the War Against Terrorism.

This war was initiated with the intention of extracting revenge from those who had masterminded 9/11 but certain capitalistic elements took unfair advantage of it. War Against Terrorism became the West vs the Islamic World sort of a thing. The United States built a perception all around the Western World that all Muslims were terrorists and went on to victimize millions of Muslims. The United States did kill and capture a lot of terrorists but it also unfairly destroyed many countries, looted their natural wealth and committed several war crimes. Ten years have passed since 9/11 and we have seen all the fortunate and unfortunate incidents unfold in front of our eyes. On the fortunate side we saw Osama Bin Laden, the man who had masterminded 9/11 being shot dead by the United States in Pakistan, we saw the whole country of the United States come together and elect a Black Man as their President because 9/11 helped integrate the nation like never before and now the United States wasn’t divided into Whites and Blacks as they were only thinking of combating an enemy in unison. On the unfortunate side we saw a far greater number of things. The United States waged war after war and devastated many countries, left unlimited homeless who were innocent, destroyed the reputation of millions of Muslims and made their life tougher than ever before. It spent 2 trillion dollars on wars and plunged into a financial crisis and lost its prestigious AAA debt rating. It even lost thousands of its soldiers in these wars.

We have still not learnt our lessons from the past. It’s true that the war against terrorism was justified but it’s also true that this war was greatly misused to fulfill the greed of capitalists. Once again we are committing the same errors and are allowing history to repeat itself. The onslaught launched by the NATO forces against Libyan forces is just another act of opportunism. Once again the United States is making the same mistake. They are helping anti-social elements to grab power in Libya by means of terrorism which is unjustified. Once again those elements are being projected as freedom fighters and once again the world is doing nothing apart from being a mute spectator. The entire world is still holding a deep prejudice against Muslims even after knowing that all Muslims are not terrorists and even after the revelation of Christian fundamentalism in Europe and Hindu Terrorism in India, both of whom are as equally destructive and worrying as Islamic militancy. We’ve got to ensure that things don’t go wrong from here on. The first thing that needs to be done is all around development and equal treatment for all sections of society. When there is lack of development or when a particular section of society is unfairly discriminated against then what results is a rebellion and we need to ensure that this doesn’t happen. The second thing that needs to be achieved is peace. The people who are not happy with the ruling Government or regime need to realize that the days of violent struggle are gone. Violent protests are totally unacceptable no matter how much justified the cause might be. Thirdly, we need to keep a tab on the greed of rich nations. The greed of the United Sates for oil not only devastated many oil rich countries, it also led to its downfall as now the United States is seen as a power in decline with the phenomenal Rise of China and the overall development of BRICS. If we successfully achieve the above mentioned things then only can we move towards a peaceful and an economic powerful world.