Whether it is France or Nigeria, Italy or Myanmar, the presence of militant Muslims is a serious cause of concern to all — most of all to Muslims who want freedom from Islamists, be they inspired by Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.
If one were to watch India through the lens of its social media and the statements made by its upper middle-class urban elites of the Left, the country is facing chaos and is in a downward spiral towards a catastrophe.
At the centre of this storm in a teacup is a new law passed by both houses of the Indian Parliament that provides for a fast track towards citizenship for refugees in India who fled religious persecution in three of India’s neighbours — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2015 and who now live in difficult conditions as stateless persons.
Since most of the people who fled India’s three Islamic neighbors were non-Muslim, the new Indian law known as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians.
CAA gives refugees who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh a fast track to citizenship.
India’s Islamic clerics and Muslim leaders, as well as the Islamic University in Delhi known as Jamia Millia Islamia or ‘University of the Islamic Nation’, erupted in protest at the thought of settling Hindus and Sikhs inside India.
Delhi’s University of the Islamic Nation went on strike with Muslim students burning buses and public property, demanding that Muslims too must be included in the list of people being given fast track to citizenship.
Never mind the fact that there was no reason for any Muslim to flee Pakistan or Bangladesh to become refugees in India. But all reason and rational argument was brushed aside and anyone defending the CAA was labelled an Islamophobe.
Even Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, took to Twitter where he posted: “I don’t support any law that discriminates against one’s faith.” I asked him via social media if his remarks were catered towards the Pakistani and Khalistani (Sikh separatist) vote bank in Brampton. Instead of responding, the mayor blocked me.
The militant students of Delhi’s Islamic University kept up the pressure and soon the outlying villages and suburbs of Delhi that have a large Muslim community had blocked a major highway that links the Indian capital to a large suburb, causing massive traffic jams and riling up the residents who were too scared to speak lest they too be referred to as Islamophobes.
The Islamic University academia and students belched out calls for secularism even as their emblem was emblazoned with “Allah O Akbar” and the fact that 50% of the seats in the campus were reserved for Muslims who are, at most, 13% of the population.
Opposition politicians and Communist activists joined the fray with incendiary remarks that fed to the false feeling of Muslim victimhood.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, once India’s top diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan, told a protest: “No one can imagine an India without Islam and Muslims.” He also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘Katil’ (a murderer).
At another gathering, the much-respected opposition politician Shashi Tharoor urged the crowd not to sink into religious bigotry of any kind, but the Indian Muslims kept chanting a slogan last raised in 1946-47 when Muslim separatism led to the ‘partition’ of India and almost a million deaths.
Despite Tharoor’s pleas the crowd kept on chanting: “La Ilaha illallah” (There is no God, but Allah). This slogan raised in a political context is incendiary and clearly is targeted towards India’s Hindus who despite being over 80% of the population, have not yet reacted to the constant depiction of their country as a place of anti-Muslim bigotry.
Dr. David Frawley, an American who has settled in India and has embraced Indian heritage like few else, put it best when he tweeted: “You cannot criticize Islam in Pakistan because it is the majority. You cannot criticize Islam in India because it is a minority. Yet you can criticize Hinduism in India because it is a majority and in Pakistan because it is a minority. Yet Hindus are said to be intolerant.”
Originally published under the title”A Hot Winter in India” by The Toronto Sun on January on January 15, 2020.
https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/fatah-a-hot-winter-in-india; and the Middle East Forum
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.