Intro: “This abominable act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and their security. It is also an attack on freedom of speech and the press, core elements of our free democratic culture. In no way can this be justified.”
—German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her reaction to terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo
Recently there was a hue and cry about the mock anti-terror drill conducted by Gujarat Police in Olpad town, Surat, to check the preparedness of forces in case of a terror attack as some of the people posing as terrorists wore skull cap. ‘Secular’ media, intelligentsia and political parties call it stereotyping of Muslims. Certainly, it may be unjust to link a particular community with terrorism. But from Sydney mall to Peshawar school attack, outfits like ISIS and Boko Haram are killing thousands in the name of Islam and now ghastly killings of journalists and cartoonists in France raise the pertinent question about who actually is stereotyping Islam.
According to reports, out of 41 major terror attacks that have taken place in the year 2014, 39 were conducted in the name of Islam. The Peshawar attack was justified by Pakistani Taliban as a perfect revenge against the Pakistani state and army which has become a puppet in the hands of the US. After killings of school children also, there are protectors and supporters of Lakhvis and Mehmood Azhars in Pakistan- both have been perpetrators of terrorism in India. In India as well we have on one hand Haji Yakoob Qureshi justifying the killings of journalists and cartoonists, and the inheritor of Razakar’s legacy Owaisis on the other hand are defending their community’s right to propagate Islam while defending outfits like ISIS.
Sadly, there are very few fringe voices that are raising their voice against this violence in the name of particular religion. Even these voices are not ready to accept any argument against the philosophy of religion. The worst part is western educated, techno-savvy youths from all over the world are joining the call of revenge terrorism and perceived injustice against the Muslims all over the world. The radicalisation and Wahabism of political Islam is encrypting and creating havoc in all the societies. Even subsects within Islam are victim of this. Unless moderate and reformist voices are strengthened within Muslim community, the real change cannot take place.
Another lot who is giving strength to these extremist voices are liberal secular intellectuals who are selective in condemning attacks on freedom of speech and expression. For them, the paintings of M F Hussain depicting Hindu God and Goddesses nude are not insulting any religious sentiments but writings of Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasrin on basic premise of Islam do.
Hence, it is neither the Gujarat police nor Hindutva philosophy but the followers of political Islam, silent moderate Muslims and pseudo-secular intellectuals who are stereotyping Islam. Unless we take unambiguous position like the Chancellor of Germany took on terrorist attack in France, we will keep listening to one or the other justification for violence in the name of religion.