Trump’s executive order on halting immigration from 7 countries have kicked up a storm in many parts of America, and the order is being projected as something unprecedented, diabolical, and unexpected from a civilized world. But looking at the coverage, I think some very important points are completely being overlooked into this debate. I will try to point them briefly.
Most critics are in denial of a problem in the first place:
While India has been a victim of Islamic separatism, radicalism and terrorism after it’s partition in 1947 on religious lines, the problem has expanded worldwide in the post 9/11 era. There have been regular terrorist attacks: Mumbai 26/11, Thailand, France, Belgium, London, Spain, China and numerous other countries which have direct links to Islamic radicalism. But instead of recognizing the Jihadi inspiration and link behind such attacks, many commentators try to cover them with the apology of ‘Terror has no religion’. To prevent such attacks, governments have been forced to step up the security at airports, and are trying to spy in the digital world, which have created another uproar in the the form of Snowden leaks. But until the ideological fountainhead of these attacks are identified and countered, increased security measures will only lead to a police state with limited effectiveness.
While Trump’s order may or may not be correct, he is spot on in identifying the problem. The critics who fail to recognize the problem in the first place don’t have enough credibility left, howsoever noise they will make. Advent of social media has ensured that such people don’t retain monopoly on disseminating their ideas.
Golden principal is not a one way street:
While Trump’s order must be criticized, it must be pointed out that sixteen countries ban Israel passport holders to enter their countries, all of which are Muslim majority. It is just one example of discrimination against people of different religious beliefs from these countries, and in most of them, the situation of minorities can be termed pitiable at best. If Muslims are not ready to treat other religious beliefs with respect, why should they expect equal treatment from other countries? Trump’s order should be criticized, but only after these countries revoke the ban on Israel passport, right?
Immunity of religious criticism is inconsistent with freedom:
While most religious beliefs are mocked and criticized, Islam has been given a free rope due to the fear of violent reprisal. Many movies mock and have uncharitable portrayal of Jesus, TV series like South Park are acerbic to every one, but they dare not portray Muhammad. Books like Satanic verses has been banned, and the author is still in hiding to protect his life. The editorial staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was gunned down. Islamic society is plagued with problems such as Sharia law, which allow polygamy and divorce by saying ‘Talak’ three times. Criticism of such practices are met with the labels of ‘Islamophobe’ and ‘Intolerant’, while it is the other way round. Such a myopic and ‘my way or highway’ attitude towards religion is inconsistent with the principles of free movement and integration. Granted that not everyone is like that, but even a small fraction of people with such attitude are enough to bring the system out of equilibrium. Remember, not every Muslim demanded that Pakistan be created out of India, not everyone wanted Charlie Hebdo punished. Thus immigrants in need must be helped, but at the same time, it must be recognized that special efforts need to be in place to ensure that the integration is smooth, that freedom and criticism including satire should be accepted as a part of life.
In my personal view, Islam needs lot of reform, the most important among which is the rejection of Sharia. Religions are private belief, and they should not be allowed to affect legislative matters. Immigration without efforts coupled with such reforms will continue to increase the problem due to few bad apples. And while immigration helps a small fraction of population, a majority of them continues to suffer under the regressive Sharia laws. It is time that the world takes notice.