Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Growing Islamophobia

Call me an Islamophobe, because I probably am one or am becoming one if I am not.  The factual basis for this phobia are stories like this one, which, as far as I can ascertain, have been happening for centuries;  and happen **everywhere** that an Islamic population that is in control and there is a non-Muslim population that is significant enough to dare to complain.  In Pakistan, in Malaysia, in Bangladesh,  in Egypt.    It cannot be argued away that this is an aberration of a specific place and time.

PS: I should describe the pattern.  From the non-Muslim point of view, a girl - a minor, or even a married woman - is abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and "married" to some Muslim.   The authorities however, accept the declaration from the abductors that the conversion was "voluntary".  If the woman was married, this conversion automatically annuls her wedding to her non-Muslim spouse. Moreover, this "voluntarily" converted girl or woman is typically not permitted to meet her non-Muslim family any more, presumably to keep her from being contaminated by kafirs.

PPS: Below is an account you can find in many places, of events of the 1920s.  The underlying, not mentioned in the account below is precisely this kidnapping of women.

The ferocity of Kohat riots on 9-10 September 1924 shook Gandhiji to his very core. In these riots 155 Hindus were killed many more injured, and rest of them fled for safety to Rawalpindi. Shattered Gandhiji resorted to 21 days fast as penance, at the Delhi residence of Muhammad Ali. On the very first day of the fast on 17th September, Mahadev Desai, his close confidant and secretary, asked him ‘for what error of him he was resorting to this hard penance’. Gandhi replied. 
“My error? Why, I may be charged with having committed a breach of faith with the Hindus. I asked them to befriend Muslims, I asked them to lay their lives and their property at the disposal of the Mussalmans for the protection of their holy places. Even today I am asking them to practice Ahimsa, to settle quarrels by dying but not by killing. And what do I find to be the result? How many temples have been desecrated? How many sisters come to me with complaints … Hindu woman are in mortal terror of the Mussalman goondas. …. How can I bear the way in which his (a letter writer’s) little children were molested?” (Mahadeva Desai’s Diary Vol.  IV, Varanasi, 1969 p. 195) 

In these words Gandhiji was merely echoing the anguish and pain of many Hindu hearts which was conveyed to him and which he had summed up in the beginning of his above-mentioned long article of 29th May 1924 in these words, “you asked the Hindus to make common cause with the Mussalmans on the khilafat question. Your being identified with it gave it an importance it would never have otherwise received. It unified and awakened the Mussalmans. It gave prestige to the Maulvis which they never had before. And now that the khilafat question is over, the awakened Mussalmans have proclaimed a kind of Jihad against us Hindus.” (CWMG, Vol. 24, p. 136) 

This Hindu agony had penetrated the very soul of Gandhiji; it was sitting heavy on his heart and was tormenting him emotionally. His 21 days long fast begun on 17th September was the bursting forth of his guilt consciousness vis-à-vis Hindus. Kohat riots exposed the wide gulf that existed in his and Ali brother’s approach to the Hindu Muslim question. On February 4, 1925 Gandhi with Shaukat Ali reached Rawalpindi to enquire on behalf of the Congress into the causes of the Kohat disturbances. There he discovered a wide gulf of approach to Hindu-Muslim unity between himself and Shaukat Ali. They could not agree to submit a joint inquiry report. During interrogation with the displaced Kohat Hindus, Gandhi discovered that the Kohat riot had taken place due to ongoing conversion of Hindus to Islam, while Shaukat Ali had no qualms over conversions. In his opinion, the riots were provoked by a Hindu poem derogatory to Islam. Shaukat Ali’s commitment to conversions disturbed Gandhiji very much. Gandhiji shared his mental agony with Mahadeva Desai and also with his Sabarmati Ashram inmates, whom he addressed in the early morning of 10 February 1925. Describing his state of mind after his discovery about Shaukat Ali’s attitude, Gandhiji said, “I am now in the position of a man who is shocked to find a snake under his quilt and gives to thorough shaking and sweeps the whole room clean. … it passes my endurance, when people are made Muslims by bribery or coercion, as was the case here. My only object is to wake you up, to alert you today in the early hours of the morning. And that I do, because it is possible that you may have to face a similar situation some day. If a child, a boy or girl is kidnapped from the Ashram, you should not interpret my principle of non-violence crudely and be silent observers.” He further told them,” If all the thirty crores of Hindus turned Muslims after a full knowledge of Muslim scriptures or their own intellectual convictions, I would nor feel the loss so much. I would then be content to be the only Hindu on earth.” (Mahadev Desai Diary, Vol. IV, pp 263-5).