Received via Shankar Gopalakrishnan
As the 2014 elections begin, the time has come again to state the obvious. In the context of massive propaganda campaigns, the subtle use of stereotypes, and the fact that both the Western and the Indian media share certain basic biases, many people end up believing in a range of myths about the adherents of the world’s second largest religion. This is a quick attempt at exposing those myths.
Myth: ‘Muslim’ countries are never secular. Muslims do not tolerate minorities in ‘their’ countries but demand minority rights in other countries.
The world’s largest Muslim majority country is Indonesia (total population approximately 25 crores, larger than Pakistan). Indonesia is a secular democracy. Indeed, its population is almost a mirror image of India’s – 88% Muslim, 9% Christian, 3% Hindu, 2% Buddhist, etc. (as compared to India, which has a population that is 80% Hindu, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3% Christian, etc.) Indonesia’s national slogan is “Unity in Diversity.” Yes, Indonesia has occasional riots and bomb blasts, but so does India.
In reality the majority of Muslim majority countries in the world are secular. Several large examples include Turkey, Mali, Syria, Niger, and Kazakhstan. Despite having Islam as ‘state religion’, Bangladesh’s government is also secular in law. The same is true of many other countries. Only six countries in the world claim to use Islam as the basis of their law making – and their total population is roughly the same as the population of Indonesia, Turkey and Kazakhstan combined. In other words, the vast majority of Muslim majority countries are secular, and the vast majority of Muslims live under secular governments.
Myth: Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims.
Continue reading Some Myths About Muslims
You have said everything there is to say, and felt everything there is to feel. You have shouted angrily or reflected seriously or stated in the calm tone of conviction that terrorists are as authoritarian as the states they target, that terrorists have no religion, that terrorists are cowards who target soft civilian populations. You have despaired at the carnage wreaked on a city sick and tired of having to be “resilient”; of having faced one disaster after the other – from floods to targeted attacks on specific communities to bomb blasts – and “emerged with its spirit intact”. Your heart has clenched painfully at the inconsolable tears of baby Moshe; at the blood-spattered, newly motherless one-year old Viraj in an exhausted Head Constable Salunkhe’s arms, entrusted to him by his father, a utensil seller wounded by bullets at CST. You have gazed numbly at the image of Maharashtra ATS Chief Hemant Karkare’s young son with drawn countenance bearing the ritual paraphernalia of his father’s cremation ceremonies. Despite yourself you felt a sudden glimmer of hope steal into you at the stony dignity in Kavita Karkare’s dry-eyed grief at her husband’s funeral, at her steadfast bindi and her coloured sari. You have hated yourself for being relieved that those you know in that poor torn city are safe, when hundreds you did not know were not.
In fear and foreboding the feeling has overcome you – “What lies ahead of us now?”
But after all of that, after all of the sorrow and the grieving, in the midst of absolute despair, when you start to think again – STOP. Continue reading Mumbai terror, the revolt of the elites and Life itself