Europeans, who used to fancy themselves as great secularists, are slowly waking up to the fact that foreigners—that is, belonging to foreign religious—have begun encroaching on their land—which means their culture, their language, their society and ultimately their freedom. These people used to lecture us—and still do—on unity in diversity, multiculturalism and so on, which they argued was the very basis of democracy.
But that was until yesterday. Today, besieged by foreigners, they are wondering how to fight the alien forces which will one day engulf them. Belgium, a tiny country at the northern tip of France, has decided that enough is enough, and is banning the wearing of burqa in public. The new law says that no one can appear in public with the face fully covered so as to render them no longer recognisable. This is the first time a European country has decided to ban the burqa.
It will soon be the turn of France, that great land of liberty, equality and fraternity, to not only put a ban on the burqa but impose huge fines on anyone who forces a woman to wear a full-face veil. The woman wearing the burqa will be fined too, but a smaller amount. The idea is to discourage wearing of Muslim-style dress in public. French President Nicholas Sarkozy does not believe in “unity in diversity” business, though he has appointed several Muslim men and women in his government, including some ministers. But they are French, he says, not Muslims, and they should be seen as French, not Muslims.
A few months ago, a county in Switzerland voted a ban on minarets, a characteristic feature of mosques. The new law will put a ban on erecting minarets above a certain height, so that they are not visible from a distance. Switzerland, say the legislators, is not a Muslim country and will not allow Muslim-type architecture. Muslims can still have their mosques, provided they meet the usual regulations, but they cannot have minarets.
I have a feeling that if the conservatives come to power in England, they too will pass similar laws. The Muslim population in England is increasing by leaps and bounds, and the government is worried that one day it will create problems. Already there is a British Muslim group which is asking for a separate Parliament for Muslims only, which can make laws for Muslims only, and is also asking for a separate territory for itself where they can have their own government. In other words, they want a Pakistan in England, and soon they may ask for similar Pakistans all over Europe.
In America, things are different. Americans are babes in the wood as far as politics is concerned and will elect anybody, provided he or she looks like them, dresses like them, eats like them, and behaves like them. All they ask for is a good job, a good car—even a Japanese car will do—and a daily supply of hamburgers. They do not care at all about a person’s religion, which is why they elected a Muslim to the White House, within years of a Muslim attack in New York. Barack Hussein Obama was elected to the White House, though 46 per cent of Americans think that he is a Muslim. However, Obama himself says he is a Christian. For the first time, religion is likely to play a big part in American politics.
Diversity is all very well as long as it remains within certain limits, and as long as you do not have too many people of other religions. France, Denmark and Belgium are Christian countries, in the sense a majority of the population is Christian. As long as the number of Muslim immigrants was not very large, they didn’t mind what they were and how often they went to the mosque and how high the minarets were. But once the Muslims reached a sizable number —France has the highest number of Muslims in Europe—they woke up to the dangers inherent in an alien community in its midst.
There are now parts of Paris which are totally Muslim and where Arabic is spoken as a rule. This is also true of certain parts in Britain, including London. If you wander around London or Paris after dark, you feel you are in Morocco or Algeria, because of the languages they speak and the dresses they wear. In Paris, the burqa is everywhere, as it is in certain parts of Delhi. The French actually welcomed the Muslims and the Arabs initially, but they have now suddenly realised they are under siege and unless they do something about it, they will be in a big trouble.
France, Denmark and Belgium are now asserting that they are Christian countries and people of other religions and cultures have no place in it unless they too fall in line. This is what we should have done long ago. India is a Hindu nation, and others can have a place in it only if they integrate themselves with the Hindu mainstream. It does not mean they have to become Hindus; it only means they must assimilate themselves culturally.
Look at the blacks of America. They are racially a totally different community and although they constitute only 10 per cent of the population, they are now very much a part of the mainstream, and refuse to call themselves blacks, as opposed to whites, and prefer to call themselves African-Americans, that is, Americans of African descent. They dress like the whites, eat the same food as whites, go to the same schools, pray in the same churches, see the same films, listen to the same music, and play the same games. This is because there is only one culture in America—the American culture.
If you have lived long enough in the United States, and are entitled to become a US citizen, you have to familiarise yourself with their constitution, their language—English—their history, and, of course, their writers and literature, and their music, which together constitute their culture. This is precisely why Barack Obama says he is a Christian, was born in America (which he may or may not have been) and is not a Muslim. The day he says he is or was a Muslim—because his father was a Muslim—he will have committed political suicide. For, Islam is not a part of American culture, just as it is not a part of European culture. And that is precisely why European governments and nations are resisting the public show of Islamic dress and Islamic architecture in their midst.
Our biggest enemies are the so-called secularists, men and women without religion of their own, and therefore hostile to national religion and national culture. The fact remains that India is a Hindu nation and has been a Hindu nation for thousands of years. To say that India is not Hindu is like saying that the sun does not shine. By forcing us to deny our Hindu-ness, they want us to deny our very soul—which is precisely why we must assert our Hindu-ness. The day we cease to be Hindus, India ceases to be a nation!
(The writer can be contacted at 301, Mani Kanchan Apts, Kanchan Galli, Law College Road, Pune-411 004)