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Tarek Fatah and the liberal hypocrisy

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A middle class Indian.

Tarek Fatah, an intellectual, senior citizen and one of the few people who proudly accept their ancestry, culture and heritage was abused and thrashed in the Punjab university by a few Islamists, in cahoots with politically motivated individuals a few days ago. The reactions from people on twitter, especially the ones from across the border were ecstatic. Given the harsh critique of Pakistan that Tarek so bravely does, it was no surprise.

The surprising part however was the reaction of Indian left, let me rephrase it, the reaction of Indian regressive left and the left wing media. Some were happy that a senior citizen from a minority community was verbally and physically abused in a college campus, while some rejoiced subtly via means of sarcastic and insensitive tweets and one sided news articles. It pains me as a liberal to see such reactions. The regressive left and the Islamist have tried to subdue Tarek in their TV studios and news columns, but his witty and intellectual responses more often than not, leave these individuals speechless. Their repressed anger for not being able to logically counter Tarek’s arguments enrages them, the harsh truth that Tarek speaks boils their blood. They cannot digest the fact that a practicing Muslim can criticize Pakistan and Islamism. It counters their victim-hood argument. Their colleagues in the west, show similar courtesy to the likes of Maajid Nawaz, Irshad Manji and Ayan Hirsi Ali, while apologists like Mehdi Hassan and Reza Aslan are treated as royalty.

Tarek has always been critical of Islamism and Pakistan, his views, unlike most regressive liberals in India, are based on facts and experience. The person has lived for years in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. As an insider like Ayan, Tarek is aware about the mindset of a closeted Islamist. Due to his first hand experience, he can and does give a rare insight inside the Islamist world in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Though Tarek might not identify himself as one, but he is one of the few reformist Muslim intellectuals in the world and trust me, we need a lot of them to fight the menace of Islamism.

I wonder why there isn’t any drama of “intolerance” being peddled by the media and politicians now. Just imagine if it were Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen or Noam Chomsky in place of Tarek. The campuses of JNU and HCU would rise up against the ‘fascist’ BJP government, Modi would be compared with Hitler, the advocates of free speech would metaphorically immolate themselves to raise awareness about the rising wave of “Hindutva bigotry” in the country. Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai would probably hold a march to the Supreme Court of India against the stifling of liberal voices. The news will run on prime time English news channels and Prime Minister would be personally held accountable for this act of “terror”. The news would be on the front page. But since it is a right wing Muslim intellectual (In Indian political spectrum, Tarek associates himself with Marxist ideology), all we see is a footnote or some article in the twelfth page of a mediocre news paper.

The true liberals of our country should raise their voices and stand together with Tarek. His freedom of speech is as important, if not more, than Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid. If we can’t support him with all honesty, we are indeed helping the rise of intolerance in the country.

And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.
-Oscar Wilde

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A middle class Indian.
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