A national newspaper (The Indian Express, Mumbai edition dated June 6) flashed a news report on the front page: “Outrage in Gulf over BJP leaders’ remarks, party sacks them”. It had background of BJP expelling the national spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her anti-Islamic remarks during a TV debate. At the same time, the BJP local Delhi unit expelled media unit head Naveen Jindal over his comments which some listeners felt derogatory for their religion. The BJP office issued a statement emphasising that the party respects all religions and any such remarks going against the party constitution rule No. 10 (A) will not be tolerated. After immediate suspension, the expelled members were informed that an inquiry will be instituted to review their actions.
Nupur Sharma was upset when derogatory remarks were made during the TV debate and even outside about God Shiva and the Shivalinga found in the Gyanvapi Masjid well. She couldn’t tolerate that humiliating nonsense for the Hindu listeners which continued over channels for days together. So she rebutted. It was made into an issue. How about those who made ugly remarks over Shivalinga? Shiva is the most adorned God of the Hindus?
The joint secretary of infamous Raza Academy branch in Mumbai, Irfan Shaikh, had filed FIR against Nupur Sharma, which was promptly registered by Mumbai Police. It didn’t stop at filing FIR. As Nupur later informed, she was getting rape and death threats since the controversy broke out. In what civilized way of life, does it fall to en mass threats of rape and death to a lady? The readers will recall, that years ago, Raza Academy held demonstrations in the Hutatma Chawk in Mumbai over the expulsion of Rohingyas from Myanmar. Those demonstrators went berserk. There was violence, the demonstrators showed their Kafirophobic behavior in open. They not only showed no respect for the national monuments, those were trampled upon. In fact, a demonstrator was caught in a photograph kicking one of these. The demonstrators tried to molest women police personnel who had to be shielded. Later, it was revealed that the hooligans were brought in truckloads with the very purpose to create violence. Raza Academy official had the temerity to file FIR in this case followed by threats of rape and death.
Expelled BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma made controversial comments during a TV debate with an Islamist political leader
While the aforesaid paper gave almost half-page coverage to the news, it looked other way to the news about governing committee President M Zahid Qureshi, Jama Masjid, Agra who threatened the lawyer Mahendra Pratap Singh who has taken up the case for the Shahi Idgah Masjid at Mathura. Zahid’s video clip went viral where he is seen threatening the lawyer to behead him for taking up the case. With all said and done, these diehards have no trust in the judicial system of the country while at the same time swearing by the name of Dr Babasaheb Ambedker. There is a common thread. It is only Muslims who feel threatened. Hindus do not. However, the National English media has developed professional amnesia over insulting Hindu sentiments.
Behind the scene incidents
It is reported the after the hue and cry started in India, the Gulf countries suddenly awoke. Coincidentally our Vice-President was on tour to Qatar. There was a flurry of activities. Our ambassador in Qatar was summoned by the local government. Not only deep concerns were raised, but it seems the official visit by the Vice-President was on the verge of being cancelled. At the same time Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia too summoned our envoys in those countries with Pakistan, Indonesia and Islamic countries joining the chorus. Bharat spokesperson denied charges and made a pointed comment over Pakistan’s overtures where minorities of all religions and even Islamic sects like Shia, Ahmadis have been under constant attacks and threats.
The Gulf countries went on to the extent of removing ‘Made in Bharat’ goods from the mall shelfs. It was as if the whole lot of good will that was arduously developed over the last few years was about to be nullified. In response to the external Islamic pressure mounting, these two senior BJP members were expelled without issuing even a show-cause notice. What made it to happen? What incensed these Gulf countries to respond so drastically cutting across the deeply rooted sectarian divide? There are many other reasons for that. Well! The external affairs ministry will certainly look into the matter and take steps for restoration of the diplomatic relations.
Moment of Triumph for Some
This incident was as if a snub for BJP and it had to be a celebration for some. Newspaper editorials also dealt with the same topic. Expressing concern over “evaporation” of the goodwill that PM has developed over the years with the Islamic countries because of this incident. It did not deter the editorial to delve on the electoral victories in 2014 and 2019 without the aid of Muslim vote bank. As stated at the end of the editorial, “Hate speech is unacceptable in itself from the mouths of the ruling party members targeting a minority it mainstreams bigotry, causes dangerous divisions and is against the national interest”. Is it justified to look other way round when the current political outfits (are they political parties really or the family fiefdoms?) appeased unabashedly the same minorities, elections after elections at the cost of national interest?
No positive role models for, “British Muslims, (it) reflects the fact that the clerics and Caliphists are nurturing a particular type of Islam, whose ideas, values and culture are set to conflict increasingly with the wider society” (P 290)
It didn’t stop there. There was a lead article by an ex-Navel Chief of Staff. He vouched for being septuagenarian citizen with lot of wisdom to offer advice to the ruling party. He suggested, “It is time for the nation’s political leadership to don the mantle of Statesmanship. Looking beyond the party agendas, they need to privilege national interest.” Wasn’t it statesmanship when goodwill was assiduously built up, not only by visits and personal contacts, but sparing COVID-19 inoculant doses in millions with the developing countries. It was great humanitarian gesture when the political leadership showed statesmanship. Even PM’s impromptu visit to Lahore was an important link in that endeavor. The septuagenarian is oblivious to happenings over the last many decades. A spate of communal violence has continued since, say six decades. The Friday sermons became shriller over the years triggering the spontaneous violence and riots from time to time. ISIS flags were openly flying in Tamil Nadu. The divisive forces became bolder and bolder to indulge in acts like cutting the hand of a professor belonging to another minority community, creating many ‘Kairanas’ and so on. Don’t these people, who hoodwink these fissiparous tendencies, deserve to be ridiculed for their “sickularism” a word from the editorial itself. They suffer from the sickness of selective amnesia.
While we are made aware of Islamophobia from time to time, none professing “sickularism” has ever expressed concern over the growing Kafirophobia in the Islamic Umma worldwide. ISIS caliphate sent hordes of refugees from Muslim countries. They were welcomed with open arms by the Europeans. Soon they showed their true colors. Europe faced homegrown jihadi mayhem. It is worthwhile pointing at a recent (2021) book, “Among the Mosques” by Ed Hussain. It is based on his personal survey of several “British Kairana ghettoes” and mosques around these “Kairanas” in Britain. These are giving rise to several “nations within a nation”. As Hussain observes, with no positive role models for, “British Muslims, (it) reflects the fact that the clerics and Caliphists are nurturing a particular type of Islam, whose ideas, values and culture are set to conflict increasingly with the wider society” (P 290). In fact, high tides of “Kafirophobia” are growing in Britain. Have these things been different in Bharat over the last five or six decades? It is time for the Muslim minority itself (becoming the majority in several localities) to seriously ponder over the growth of the social sickness of Kafirophobia among the community. In due course, it will be detrimental for the whole community. And among the sick “sickularists”, who cares for Kafirophobia?