Monday, January 12, 2015

Your Religion Reflects your identity ... Power & Politics/The Sundary Standard/January 11, 2015

Your Religion Reflects Your Identity, But Your Action Connects You With Your Name

An injured person being transported after attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris

The defining dilemma these days regarding identity is “What’s in a name?” In these tortuous times of identity crises, one’s appellation establishes one’s credentials. So, when I say, “My name is Prabhu and I am not a Communalist,” it means that it is my name and not my actions that denote my acceptability and credibility in society. Like many Indians, I am proud to be a nationalist Hindu. But I take much more pride in being a Bharatiya, which doesn’t differentiate between religions, cultures and faiths. For me, Hinduism is not a religion. It defines how we live in peace and tolerance. It pains everyone, including me, when one has to invoke his first or last name to prove his commitment to human values and liberty. It is also equally agonising that this nomenclature nightmare started when Muslims started being blamed by Islamaphobes for rising terror incidents worldwide. To convince people that not all Muslims are jihadists or terrorists, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan even acted as the hero in a film, the theme of which was “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist”. It was shot in the horrific background of the 9/11 attacks. Since then, Indian liberals and propagandists have been celebrating only Muslim names in various fields to establish the nationalistic commitments of Indian Muslims, which is hardly in doubt in the minds of most number of Indians. This moniker manipulation marked the beginning of the identity wars between various communities with their fringe organisations taking advantage of the divisive din. Though all Ahmads and Abdullahs are not supporters of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, the impression being created by secularism-mongers is that most Prabhus, Rams, Deen Dayals and Krishna Kumars are communal and conspiring to annihilate the minorities. For the past few months, a competitive chorus is on, using proper nouns to divide India rather than to unite it. The discourse is not aimed at the consolidated idea of a united and inclusive Bharat, but to keep reminding people of their distinctive religious identities by emphasising on their family background. Why can’t those who exploit religion to prove their secular credentials use the hashtags #IamaBharatiya and #I stand for unity? It is tragic that in the name of modern thinking and fake ideological neutrality, some of us are bandying about minority names to defend the indefensible that is terrorism.

Unfortunately, the dance of terror in Paris has once again revived the practice of using names for cultural and religious taxonomy. For the past four days, millions of people worldwide have been tweeting #I am Charlie” and  #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie), which have become slogans of solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Two terrorist brothers attacked the offices of the French satirical magazine—which had satirised Islam—and murdered 12, including 10 journalists whose only fault was critical and perhaps excessive satirical adventurism. Now for the French, and other Western countries, the name of an individual appears to be the only effective way to identify a possible terrorist threat. Sadly, it took the Paris carnage to wake up the West once more, which faces a lethal threat to its existence and culture. Forgetting the famous adage that ‘thou shalt reap what thou shall sow’, the West is primarily responsible for overtly and covertly funding non-governmental organisations working in the Third World for ameliorating the conditions of the poor and oppressed. For Europe’s neo-liberal altruists, championing human rights and saving the poor guarantees a ticket to heaven, flying first class. Hardly do they realise that financial magnanimity will also lead to the rise of communal hatred and encourage divisive tendencies, the way it is happening in India. Over one lakh Indian NGOs receive about `4,000 crore annually from Europe, the UK and US in the name of protecting human rights. Some of them have even aggressively defended people with suspected terrorist links. It is due to massive Western support and native chest-thumping by professional human rights activists that terror groups in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and India as well as in other parts of the world got the space and time to consolidate themselves and eventually become a threat to the very people who financed and promoted them for the sake of their own narrow political or ideological proclivities.

It is quite telling that France is now Europe’s terror capital. According to figures released by various websites on the 152 terrorist attacks in the EU last year, about 65 happened in France alone. The research organisation, Muslim Statistics, claims that over 66 per cent of Muslims in France and 80 per cent in the UK support the idea of an Islamic State. It also reveals that Sweden spends over 10 million kroner to finance Muslim immigration and the UK parts with 840 million pounds of taxpayers’ money per year on Muslim prisoners who constitute 14 per cent of Britain’s prisoner population—who incidentally are converting many prisoners into radical Islam, which has become an added source of worry for law enforcement agencies. Research scholar Tim Sadandoji wrote in his blog that “looking at all the people killed in terrorist attacks in Europe and North America during the last 10 years, 97 per cent was committed by Muslim terrorists, or 4,703 of the 4,873 killed”. While none of the Western countries have released a comprehensive list of jihadi attacks on their soil, over 5,000 people are estimated to have been killed so far in America, Russia and Europe during the past 12 years. If one includes the pogroms in West Asia and Africa, the victims of the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and ISIS, the number stands at 18,000 people. Out of each 100 killed, 90 died in bloody encounters between a Hafiz and Bin Laden and not between an Antony and Abdullah, or a Prabhu vs Hezbollah. Even in Paris, it was none other than Said Kouachi, a devout Muslim, who shot the 40-year-old French Muslim policeman Ahmed Merabat in cold blood. One of the rampaging monsters said killing the journalists of Charlie Hebdo was taking revenge for insulting their Prophet. When the screams had died, and the smell of cordite was blown away in the chilly January wind, what was left scrawled in the blood and gore was just a name. It was Chérif and he turned out to be a terrorist. It’s all in the name, stupid.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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