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16 September 2013

‘Muslims are just being made scapegoats’

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By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

My column last week on the media marginalization of minorities in India (Saudi Gazette, September 3) and in particular the Muslim minority prompted an Indian Muslim to bring to my attention a letter he had written to an Indian daily some years back. With a little editing, here is his piece:

“The Indian government and general public owe Muslims an apology for traumatizing the community and tarnishing its reputation. The community that stood shoulder to shoulder with Hindus and fought for independence is now viewed with suspicion and its members have been isolated, and its patriotism has been questioned time and time again. Every terrorist or subversive act proves to be a nightmare for Muslims who have to go through an acid test to prove their innocence.

“Even after 64 years of independence, Muslims are viewed as anti-Indian or pro-Pakistani, and this very topic has been used by communal parties to drive a wedge between Muslims and other communities. The Muslim community has given its blood and sweat for this country, but its members have been labeled invaders and an effort has been unleashed to brainwash the masses about Muslims. The religious scholars and madrasas of the Muslim community which were the beacons and torchbearers of the call for freedom are now being targeted as propagators and houses of terrorism.

“Members of the community are asked to come out in the open against such elements and people who ask for a sense of justice are immediately labeled as supporters of terrorism and their patriotism is questioned, while members of other communities with proven terrorist links and acts are openly supported by politicians, and amnesty and forgiveness and better treatment for them is sought in open discussions and even parliament meetings. Their terrorist activities are covered up with the dust of nationalism and in the larger interest of the nation.

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu
“Muslim youth have been rounded up on the basis of suspicion and jailed without trial, and their families have been targeted and victimized. Day in and day out, we see hooded youths being rounded up by police and intelligence sleuths. Who are the men wearing these hoods? Are they for real or just bogus terrorists used to hush up cases and close files in order to get recognition and medals? False encounters have been concocted to prove the guilt of Muslims by deceitful means and truth has been snuffed out and buried. Fair trials and access have been denied to them.

“Our media is biased and trigger happy and seems to jump the gun in order to be the first to break the news and in so doing, lies are told and retold so that viewers end up forming a negative opinion of Muslims.

“Who are these Indian Mujahideen, Bhatkal brothers, etc? Are they just a figment of the imagination or media/government-created hype to cause mass hysteria? Quite often governments and intelligence services create monsters to divert the attention of the public from real issues which threaten the existence of many governments. Once the objective has been achieved, these monsters seem to disappear into the horizon but leave bad memories in the mind of the general public.

“We are sure that once the CBI opens the cases related to all the blasts that have occurred in India since post 9/11, the truth will emerge that the real perpetrators of such ghastly acts were not Muslims, but that the events were stage-managed by syndicates in collusion with the government to tarnish the image of Muslims and their faith.

“The Malegaon blasts, Samjhauta train blast, Kingfisher plane bomb planting, KSCA stadium blast, Ajmer blast, and Hyderabad Mosque blast should be an eyeopener for the government and masses alike that Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs can also be terrorists. Muslims are just being made scapegoats. Signed, S.T.H.”

Such words carry the emotion of a proactive Muslim patriot who is at his wit’s end because of what he senses is persecution being carried out for political gain. There has not been much of a dramatic shift by the Indian media since his letter was written a few years ago. And now, in an election year, India’s communal rifts are expected to widen and blood will be shed as politicians fuel ethnic disharmony for gains at the polls.

The Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde admitted this week that he had some information that such a scenario was on the cards. In his words, “I had said in my monthly conference in Delhi that as elections are approaching, there is a likelihood of communal tension in the country.”

Referring to the recent riots that led to the death of more than 30 people in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Shinde blamed the state leadership for fanning the flames. "I told the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh that tension was rising and he had to be alert. He said that he would make arrangements. However, this incident has taken place.”

Elements of the Indian political party, the BJP, are suspected of being behind such actions that pit Hindus against Muslims and Christians against Sikhs in their "divide and rule" system of government. That does not bode well for India’s path toward democracy or the fate of its minorities. All Indians must band together to rid themselves of this evil notion within their midst. It is only then that India can truly claim to be a democratic country.

[The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena]

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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