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Opinion

April 10, 2018
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The prism of communalism

Opinion

April 10, 2018

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The recent brutalities by the Indians and the Israelis have created a wave of anger across the world, prompting tens of thousands of people to condemn this state oppression.

While many political workers and trade unionists in the West slammed such state oppression without any regard to race and religion, right-wing forces in many Muslim states, including Pakistan, have tried to give such incident a religious colour, promoting the narrative that Muslims have been and are still being suppressed because of their religion. This attitude encourages a narrative of victimhood and leads to distortion of history. In such a situation, it is difficult to make an objective analysis of any incident.

It is true that Muslims are being oppressed in various parts of the world. They are also facing xenophobic attitudes in several parts of the Western world but this should not blind us to the oppression being perpetrated by various states against non-Muslims and the atrocities committed by Muslims against Muslims. If in Indian-occupied Kashmir around 48,000 Muslims have perished over the decades, many and more were also killed during the emergency of Indira Gandhi, during the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Indira’s assassination, the Maoist rebellion in the red corridor, and caste-based riots and insurgencies in the Indian north-east. All of these victims were non-Muslims.

Similarly, it is true that the US-led invasion of Iraq led to the killing of around two million Muslims. However, it is also true that Washington’s aggression against Vietnam led to the decimation of more than seven million people not only in the hapless invaded country but Laos and Cambodia as well. Some may argue that the United States invaded Afghanistan for being a Muslim state but historical facts tell us that the US militarily intervened more than 223 times in various parts of world, wreaking death and destruction – and many of these states were not Muslims at all.

For instance, the sole superpower invaded the Philippines which was a Christian country, mowed down around 100, 000 people in the Tokyo bombardment close to the end of World War Two, which was overshadowed by barbaric attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The victims in all these attacks were non-Muslims. Seventy million were annihilated in the great massacre known as World War Two. Over 90 percent victims were non-Muslims. And three million non-Muslims perished in the Korean War.

It is also a distortion of facts when right-wing forces say that the West only oppressed or killed Muslims. In fact, Western imperialism has suppressed both Muslims and non-Muslims. They had internecine wars as well. For instance, the hundred-year war of 1337-1453 between France and England claimed 2,300,3000 to 3,300,000 Christian lives. The thirty-year religious war of 1618-1648 between several European powers is said to have decimated 3,000,000 to 11,500,000 of Christ’s followers. The Napoleonic wars of 1803 and 1815 engulfed 3,500,000 to 7,000,000 – with the majority of victims Christians.

So, if they kicked some million Muslims from Spain, they also massacred around 20 million indigenous people from South, Central and North America. If they destroyed the Muslim civilisation in Spain, they also wiped out the Maya, the Incas and the Aztec in the Americas. If they deprived Muslim rulers of their lands in India and other parts of the world, they did the same in non-Muslim lands of Africa, China and Latin America.

The communalisation of history and distortion of historical facts blind us to the oppression of Muslim by Muslims. The Umayyads persecuted some of the most respected Muslim families. We talk about the Muslims rulers of Spain a lot but tend to forget they were of Umayyad origin, and had fled the Abbasids’ persecution and established a parallel – but smaller – empire. The story does not end here.

In India, Mughal emperor Babar waged a ruthless war against Muslim rulers. Akbar is said to have killed his brother Mirza Hakim; and our pious ruler Aurangzeb Alamgir put his father in prison besides brutally killing his elder brother Dara Shikoh. The famous Razia Sultana is said to have been killed by her own brothers while Alauddin Khilji is said to have had his father-in-law assassinated. In these all instances, the victims and the oppressors were both Muslim and in some cases devout Muslims.

We continue to ignore the atrocities waged by Muslims against fellow Muslims. The killing of civilians is condemnable whether it is being committed by the US or perpetrated by the Taliban, Afghan Taliban, Isis, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Abu Sayyaf, Al-Qaeda etc. We need to recall what happened to the residents of Bamiyan when the Afghan Taliban captured it in late 1990s. The desecration of a mosque and religious seminary in Kunduz is a shameful act but did the ruthless bombardment spare religious places in Kabul in the internecine war of various Afghan Mujahideen factions in the early 1990s. Was no mosque or seminary damaged during those terrible years of war, death and destruction? Why did our religious right not kick up a storm over the desecration of mosques and funeral places that were hit by the Pakistani Taliban? We still have religious leaders that appear reluctant to condemn the TTP’s actions.

We need to get rid of this narrative of victimhood, and condemn atrocities without regard to race, religion and colour. We should bash the Israeli or Indian authorities for their use of brutal force against the people of Palestine and Occupied Kashmir but that should not make us turn a blind eye to the disappearances in our own country, the victimisation of the Hazaras in Balochistan, the peasants in Okara and political activists in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Email: [email protected]

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