A major part of this blog had appeared in Quora.com as my response to the query: What do you call a person who thinks all Muslims are terrorists just because of ISIS?
Answer by Vishu Menon:
I am tempted to call him George W Bush, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Subramanian Swamy in that order of preference.
Such a person is a terrorist of another kind. To promote his own brand of religious intolerance and extremism, he brands the prey the predator. Take a look at those buildings in the cities of Iraq and Syria that have been reduced to debris. They were not destroyed by the Islamic terrorist, but by the American, European and Saudi airborne terrorists (apart from the supporters of the much harried but nonetheless perseverant Bashar Al-Assad) who have no business to be there. That’s not to say that Islamic terrorism does not exist or that it is not a terrible menace in a relatively peaceful world.
The deaths caused due to Islamic terrorism in Bombay, London Underground, Paris and Brussels – even the 2001 September attacks – add up to a minuscule fraction of the loss of Muslim lives in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Pakistan, Sunni terrorists make it a point to kill a few Shias every Friday prayer. A governor and several journalists were killed for their opposition to the heinous blasphemy law. In Bangladesh, it’s become common practice to kill a blogger nearly every month if not every week just for saying that all religions should learn to live together or that religions are a menace to mankind. Though Boko Haram and Al Shabaab are supposed to target Christians, more Muslims die there than Christians. In Darfur light-skinned Arab Muslims took great pleasure in killing the darker-skinned ones and gang-raping their women. Muslim extremists would rather kill Christians, but it’s the Muslim women and kids who come in handy.
That the Islamic State, which should sound an attractive name to an average religious Muslim, has not been able to gather up more than thirty thousand or so volunteers from 1.6 Billion or more Muslims , and that nearly all Muslim scholars decry (some, undoubtedly because the time is not ripe) the Islamic State and brand it un-Islamic should show that not every Muslim has a part in the Islamic terrorism; he would rather stay as far away from it as he could. The wise Mullah knows that a unified Caliphate is an unrealizable dream. History does not record long periods of peace (Salaam) and stability in any Islamic empire.
Yet the average Muslim survives by balancing on the tip of a double-edged sword. She is attacked, killed or raped by Islamic terrorists on the ground; she bears the brunt of the bombing by American crusaders and Saudi Arabia’s super-jihadi government from above. She tries to escape the deadly reality by running away to Europe, and gets caught up in the political tug-of war between nations on the continent if she, her children and relatives were not already drowned in the sea. Thus the worst victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslims.
She goes in search of a job, a better life, or simply to see the sights of the glitzy America, Europe and the British Isles where the streets are supposed to be lined with gold. Her quest is for a normal life, even the job of a house maid – a status far removed from the life she once enjoyed before George Bush decided to deal a blow to Saddam Hussein for the crime of not bowing down to his father. Yet she gets blamed, pushed around, humiliated at airports and is always viewed with suspicion by her neighbours and the police. When subjected to such experiences incessantly, a few of the Islamic youth tend to persuade themselves that the time had come to fight back by joining the forces that are their nemesis in the first place – the terrorists.
There are, of course, the other hard-core variety who believe that to kill the infidels is their god-given responsibility. You find such kind also among Christians who’d walk into a Black Church and shoot the worshippers, the revived Ku Klux Klan in Americas, Neo-Nazis of Europe – even among the lawyers and a Legislator who thronged a Delhi Court to torture a student leader and then to offer a few hundred thousand rupees for killing the young orator.Jingoism and feigned piety that borders on fanaticism have led to gross violence through human history.
It’s a vicious cocktail of frustration, despondency, anger and Madrasa-induced religious fanaticism that lead some of the Muslim youths astray. That fatal bartender effect can only be neutralized by a conscious understanding of those who tend to be turning away from the mainstream. Much of that responsibility lies in the lap of the doting parents and Friday orators. I guess this could apply to most other faiths in a somewhat lesser degree – as of now. Church-going ‘nice’ Christian parents might well watch out for that son who suddenly begins to grow a beard sans moustache and talks about the goodness of Islam without knowing a verse from Quran. It’s probably the delirious video-game violence that draws him to gun violence.
The animosity against the Muslim is palpable not only in 10 Downing Street and the conservative lobby in London (no doubt, men like Anjem Choudary contribute to it), but at airports, rail stations and everywhere in the non-Islamic world where people assemble. Some Muslim countries return the compliment for a good measure. In the present context, this attitude overtakes the disdain that people in Islamic countries display towards the non-believers. If Islam does not wish to face complete isolation , the clerics, parents Islamic intellectuals and teachers should join hands with those who are trying sincerely to find the right solution by a realignment of inter-community communication and relationship. If kafur like me are to burn in hell, let us, but we could still be friends in this world. So the understanding needs to work both ways.
The duty of those who are supposed to keep the Country safe need to refrain from arresting and torturing all and sundry and then setting them free for want of evidence after much harm was done. After the underground blasts, the British have been reasonably successful in making discrete but firm surveillance to weed out, counsel and de-indoctrinate the suspects without hurting the religious sentiments. Now they have a London Mayor descended from poor Pakistani migrants. That he won the election with a massive mandate should dissuade many a youth from slinking away to Syria. No doubt that chain mails will be flying across the world groaning that Muslims are taking over England and that by 2050 England will be a Muslim nation. The fact is that Sadiq Khan’s victory owes itself to a concerted effort by the immigrant population of all shades and faiths. The lawyers who filed suit against Zac Goldsmith, the conservative candidate, for vile propaganda were Hindus of Indian origin. Anita Dixit had a special reason : David Cameron, the Prime Minister wrote to her : ” If Khan won, Londoners will become lab rats in a giant political experiment”. There was little doubt that Cameron was trying to appeal to the conjectural Hindu-Muslim animosity. It backfired. Colonial hangover has not left the conservatives.
Utterances like those of Anjem Choudary have only nuisance value (mostly to Muslims) at present, but those of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson in America can vitiate the situation; if Trump gets the authority to do what he says he would, it would be goodbye to world peace for a long time to come – if that time comes at all.
This is also true of the current situation in India which houses nearly a fifth of the world population, a substantial part of it (13-14%) being Muslims. The spiteful laws such as those that are being revived – just so the Muslims and Christians are isolated – and the attitude of a section of the majority towards Muslims could generate terrorist thoughts among a few Muslim youths who find no other way to fight back. If you corner a cat, it would fight like a leopard. Very few among the Muslim youth consider Islamic State an ideal to follow, but a misguided George Bush-like handling might drive them right in that direction.
One more point: The supposedly secular governments of the West should stop taking sides in the Sunni-Shia war that has gone on for 1400 years. The fight is to decide who should be the Caliph in a non-existent Caliphate. Left alone, history shows that it subsides for quite a few years, only to erupt again at the slightest interference.
So don’t interfere.