Let us consider 3 recent events in 3 different nations
1. In US, Donald Trump made certain remarks against a particular community creating much of controversy. But recent survey has shown that around 1/3rd of American support his view. This is significant in backdrop of San Bernadigo killings. Trump emerged out to be a favourite candidate among republicans.
2. French extreme right party Front National (FN) scored near to 30% votes in regional elections in first round and looked to win 4 or 5 regions out of total 11. It was only after tactical bonding b/w Centre Right and Centre Left parties there that kept FN at bay in the second round. But sudden rise in support for FN especially after Paris attacks was seen as alarming.
3. India’s ruling and centre-right party BJP lost a major election in Bihar amid rising voices in “intellectual circle” against “growing intolerance” in country and rise of extremist “right-fringe” groups. A month after this, an IOCL manager from Jaipur was arrested on charges of working for ISIS to form a network for its organisation.
US and France appear to be reacting to extremist Islamic forces in fashion opposite to India. This could be blamed on political correctness. Fear of backlash against a whole community, as was case of Jews, may be reason for the political correctness that denies the obvious links between terror and religion, but in this process safety appear to be being compromised.
In the western world, increasing security and capable intelligence agency was considered to be a solution along with destroying the base of Taliban in Afghanistan. Terrorism was considered as any other power hungry armed group and its ideological aspect was neglected. But recent attacks were not carried by citizens of radicalised middle east citizens but by educated western Muslims.
A well educated neighbour employed with a handsome salary may walk with a gun in a crowded place and start shooting, shouting slogan of ISIS (a gun is as easy to obtain in US as toothpaste in India). And you express shock that you were until now unaware of his radicalisation. Those supporting Trump or FN know that every Muslim is not a terrorist but they fear that “any Muslim can be terrorist”.
India still appears untouched from this global phenomena mainly because of 2 reasons:
1. India’s diverse society with its history of different sects in society living harmoniously (co-living at least) sharing common past acted as a barrier to outside influences. India is diverse not only because of diversity of Indian religions, but also because nowhere else in world you will find Islam as diverse as here, so much so that 80% of Muslims may qualify as kafirs according to ISIS and Saudi’s Wahhabi interpretation.
Pakistan born Canadian citizen who liked to be called as “Indian Muslim” Tarek Fateh says that For Muslims, there is no safer country than India in the world (Shia not safe in Pak-Saudi, Sunni face discrimination in Iran-Iraq, Ahmadiya’s are not considered Muslims in any of Muslim country).
A particular nature of Sufi Islam which has been evolved in South Asia using music and singing as its instrument of prayer and emphasis on Love for God along with concept of Sufi dargah has helped in their assimilation in Indian culture. Sufi saints are revered as much by Hindus as by Muslims. Due to this reason any attempt to unify Hindus or Muslims under particular set of beliefs and code of conduct has been failed in past and that’s why cry of intolerance by intellectuals was perceived to be an over zealous attempt without any factual backing.
2. Second reason is low Islamic State penetration as ISIS has still not focused on eastern part of world (except Afghanistan). While the West have waged full scale war against ISIS, India has not yet entered a war against ISIS except for verbal condemning and call for unity against terrorism.
Despite its ideological nature, ISIS has more or less evolved as a nation state and it knows the importance of keeping its enemies low (Russian plane was attacked only after Russia entered war till then it was unscratched). ISIS has not dedicated its resources on recruitment from India except for some over-enthusiastic volunteers and focused on west especially when there is unsureity of its success due to competition it faces from other terrorist organisation like jamat ul dawa and Indian Mujaheedin.
But that doesn’t mean that problem is absent. It is true that communities in India are tolerant but tolerance itself is problem. Because tolerance have a limit and one is never sure when limit will be breached.
Instead of focusing on tolerance, need is to focus on acceptability. Tolerance itself signifies lack of acceptability. Whole debate of intolerance has been wrongly focused on tolerability instead of acceptability. Instead of focusing on all religion are equal focus should be on accepting that something may be wrong in every religion and definition of right and wrong need to be revisited on basis of new ideas of humanitarianism, universalism and equality.
Denial of fact by Indian liberals that “religious ideology” of only one religion to be true religion along with feeling of victimisation among Muslims have long fed Islamic radicalisation. Their silence on attack faced by Tasleema Nasreen, Salman Rushdie and recently on demand of beheading of Kamlesh Tiwari was deafening when they are known for showing their support for like of MF Hussain and Wendy dongier.
Loss caused by them is evident from the fact that on one hand “I stand with Kamlesh Tiwari” was trending on twitter and on other hand slogan in support of ISIS were raised in a rally. Their habit of protecting minority sentiments has only alienated Muslims from mainstream society and increased the hostility between them and rest of the society.
Lakhs of Muslims in funeral of Yakoob menon along with similar number in rally that demanded death for Kamlesh Tiwari is a fact that radicalism has only increased despite repeated denial. This along with Parikar indication that India can join UN led strike against ISIS has only raised fear of ISIS attacks in India. But fatwa against ISIS by 1000 Muslim leaders is silver lining