For all the international hue and cry by Muslim organisations and leaders against the intemperate attack on Islam by Pope Benedict XVI, the fact remains that the Christian pontiff neither apologised properly nor did Muslim clerics carry their anger to a truly violent conclusion anywhere in Europe. Rather, they showed unexpected maturity by accepting the Vatican'sinvitation for a dialogue and agreeing to let the matter come to an end.
As expected, the Indian media failed to draw the right inferences from the actual sequence of events, and to report them accordingly to an Indian audience. Readers would recall that four years ago, the American evangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote that unlike Christianity and Jewism Islam is violent. ?In my opinion ? Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses. And I think that Muhammad set an opposite example.? This is comparative religion at its worst, and there was an expected chorus of protest from the Muslim world. What is pertinent, however, is that there were no incidents of violence in America or Europe, which were the reverend'saudience. Yet in India, in the remote Sholapur district of Maharashtra, nearly a dozen persons died in orchestrated violence. Even more interestingly, the then MP of the constituency soon became the State'sfirst Dalit chief minister! Neither then, nor at present, has the Indian media dared question why Islam in reality kowtows to the West. Why were Hindus killed in India for comments made in America and why was a nun killed in Somalia to protest remarks made by the Pope in Germany? Mercifully there was no violence at the Papal remarks in India, but the media failed to note that the Muslim clergy was excessively keen to bury the hatchet with Christianity so that they could continue their combined assault on Hindus within India. And this is precisely what happened. The Pope made no apology, only regretted the hurt caused to those who objected to his remarks, and served tea to Muslim clerics; and in India, the Ulema rushed to accept the unserved apology!
The true meaning of the Pope'sspeech at the University of Regensburg is that he has launched a virtual new crusade against all non-Christian faiths, all over the world. Islam has been condemned for its violent nature, and the pontiff'sintent is to so provoke Europe'sMuslims that they become excessively radical, so that the respective governments can crack down upon them and drive them out of ?Christian? lands. At the same time, by directly attacking ?idolatrous? faiths, the Pope, the one billion strong Hindu community, and reiterated the objective of the Church to annihilate Hindu dharma through conversions.
The media agrees with the Pope that it is entirely reasonable to believe that God conveyed his name and message through a ?burning bush,? thus separating himself from all other divinities (which surely suggests they must be real?). This, according to the Bishop of Rome, created ?a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark ex-pression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115).? Surely somebody should question the good man how he has come to the conclusion that the Christian God is the creation of God and the non-Christian divinities are a human creation? Can a religious leader who roundly condemns ?idolatrous cults? really believe in inter-faith dialogue and show respect for image-worshipping Hindus? It is obvious that Benedict XVI is continuing John Paul II'spolicy of targeting India for the church, but the Hindu-hating media has entirely ignored this aspect of his controversial speech. Interestingly, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, vindicated this assessment of Islam and the Papal intent when he said: ?Islam'sborders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation, whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.? He was speaking on ?The Cross and the Crescent: The clash of faiths in an age of secularism,? barely a week after the Pope'scontroversial remarks. Carey'sremarks prove that Christian leaders in the West, regardless of religious denomination, are politically conscious of the growing Muslim presence in their lands and the increasing Muslim anger at the humiliation of Muslim rulers and states at the hands of the West. Far from seeking reconciliation with Islam, Christianity is determined to complete its stranglehold upon the Islamic world. At the same time, the West is so confident of its military and economic power and its control over large sections of the intellectuals and media that it intends to simultaneously extend its political dominance to Hindu India through large-scale conversions.
The Indian media is encouraged to react against Islamic terrorists, which is certainly a serious problem, but it is seriously discouraged from going beyond Islamic violence and looking at the Western manipulation of Islamic rulers and humiliation of the entire Muslim people. The Indian media is also encouraged not to look at the negative aspects of conversion in terms of loss of culture, identity and eventually even territory?as evidenced in the Partition of India in 1947 and the carving out of East Timor from Muslim-majority Indonesia in 1999. The Western crusade for the conversion of India is being spearheaded by the United States, and its International Religious Freedom Report 2006, released by its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, is an important weapon in this endeavour. The report, largely ignored by the anti-Hindu media, is a naked assault upon the moves by certain (non-Congress) State Governments to limit evangelical abuse by placing curbs upon their unrestricted conversion activities. Though the United States annually brings out such reports for every country, it is surprising that no one in the Indian media has ever asked how conversion to Christianity is linked to the activities of America'sBureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour. And if conversion is not a foreign policy tool whereby America interferes in the internal affairs of non-Christian nations, why is America at all interested in the activities of Christian evangelists? Why is the United States commenting with pleasure on the fact that the Rajasthan Governor has so far withheld assent to the State'sAnti-Conversion Bill?
What is more, in the wake of the California textbook controversy, where Hindus received unfair and inaccurate depiction in books sanctioned by the State, and failed to ensure their rectification through court process, the media has failed to ask the American administration why it is interfering in the matter of Indian school textbooks! It is truly extraordinary that a report by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour should comment upon the UPA regime'sdecision in 2005 to withdraw textbooks ?espousing a Hindu nationalist agenda,? that is, they were written during the NDA regime. The most significant aspect of the report was the US admission that it regularly discusses religious freedom issues with the Indian Government as part an overall policy to promote human rights (whatever that means). The US Embassy and consulates hold talks with political leaders, state and local officials, and key leaders of all significant religious communities, regarding ?reports of ongoing harassment of minority groups, converts, and missionaries.? Specific issues discussed include the reversal of anti-conversion legislation and caste-based discrimination.
I think this is truly scandalous, and just as the Parliament and various political parties are exercised over the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal, so too should American interest in evangelism in India be debated in the public arena. And if the Indian media is truly concerned with India'simage as a secular country, instead of maligning the Gujarat government all over the world, they should introspect and demand that the Indian government de-recognise the Christian theocratic state, Vatican City, with immediate effect.
(The author is a senior columnist.)