Hundreds of children shot dead as they were reading their books. A woman beheaded in Mecca in full public view. Thousands of people slaughtered by Boko Haram.
All these have happened in the last ten days, and the only common thread among them was that the perpetrators screamed ‘Allah O Akbar’ when they killed innocents.
The response of the Indian intelligentsia circuit was predictable as always. On how we are falling into the trap laid out by the terrorists. That they want us to feel angry and lost, and moments like this require us to delve into our deep, humane side. While the terrorist delves into his pocket and pulls out a Kalashnikov.
Why is the whole gamut of rational-atheist-intelligentsia silent about Islam? Why is there always a gigantic blanket of apology over the issue? Why are we embarrassed to talk about Islam and its problems?
The other surprising fact is that the same bunch of people raise a hue and cry when a book is banned. Remember Wendy Doniger’s book? How many people actually read it? How many people did it affect? Were lives lost? Did blood flow?
I understand the common argument – that oppression is not necessarily physical. That suppressing free speech could be as heinous as any other crime. I get all of that. But what about when people are getting slaughtered in reality? What about when gunmen (who are supposedly fighting the cause of Islam, but do not possess the balls to show their face to the world) enter a building and shoot journalists? What about the freedom of speech then?
Most apologist arguments about Islam tread four main lines, each argument a hollow, half-baked dump of an idea. Let’s see what they are:
- Not every Muslim is a terrorist: I get pissed off when I read this. Who said that every Muslim is a terrorist? Did anybody say that? Could you show me one book, newspaper, film, or paper that calls every Muslim a terrorist? Nobody does that, not even the Hindutva bigots that you so hate. Relax!
- One cannot expect to offend a religion while calling oneself ‘liberal’: Really? How many children died due to the cartoon of Prophet Muhammad? While we constantly call on our brethren to reform themselves to new ideas and times, why should Islam be allowed to continue abiding by laws that were written thousands of years ago?
- It is a young religion, and has gone through trials and tribulations inflicted on it by the Western world: Another classic liberal-bullshit liner. Yes, what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan was wrong. But the world doesn’t exist in black and white. There are gigantic shades of grey. What about Boko Haram, then? Did the US bomb people there too? How long are we going to keep blaming the US for all of Islam’s problems?
- Violence is always political, Islam is being used by bigots to secure their own motives: Yes, but isn’t it worth discussing what makes Islam so vulnerable to such hijackings? Why don’t other religions (some of which are younger, and are practiced in regions that have witnessed worse horrors) come in the news for killing innocents?
- (And this is my favourite) Islam is actually a religion of peace: Yeah? Then how come most Muslims in the world have died in the hands of fundamentalist Muslims themselves? How can you be a religion of peace? The concept of religion in itself doesn’t allow for peace, more so one that considers non-believers as infidels. If it really is a religion of peace, why don’t the followers of this very peaceful religion raise up and condemn it?
Since the last two weeks, opening up the news has become a chore. I am a student of Journalism and understand that news images are not biased and fair. And yet, how long are we going to fall back upon these claims? How long are we going to blame everybody else, because we do not have the courage to look the problem in the eye?
And every time there is some incident, the upholders of wisdom in the country (Scroll, Kaafila, Caravan) begin their bullshit-doling. Every statement begins with ‘Tuesday’s attack was horrific, however (random bullshit argument follows).
Or, ‘While one’s heart is pained by the loss on Sunday, one must remember that (some other chutiya explanation).
It is almost to say that Yes, we understand that people are dying, but listen up to our lofty idea now.
Since I live on a university campus, my wall is inundated by such sort. Those who see red when a book is banned, and yet talk you down if you say anything against Islam. Anything at all. Which is surprising because everytime I crack a joke on any other religion (as I firmly believe that there is only one true God – Jackie Shroff), everything is fine.
This has often baffled me. How can our intelligentsia, our best-learned, our most competent, be so myopic? Why don’t the same people who flood your news feed with articles not raise a single murmur of protest as children are shot in the head, as masked men scream ‘Allah o Akbar’, and pump bullets into innocent heads?
And that is when it struck me.
Because they’re all rich. They are artists, and poets, and journalists, and influential people whose opinions are sought after. They are rich – their children will never attend schools that do not have machine gun toting security guards. They will never use public transport, to buy vegetables from the local market.
An act of terrorism is another incident to them, to sit on their high pedestal and tell us lesser mortals about how we need to base our understanding of the world. About how we must not crib and complain about Islamic terror because it is not the right thing to do.
Well, dear intellectuals. You can go fuck yourselves.
Islam is a very problematic religion.
I have known Muslim friends all my life, and it would have been incomplete without them. And yet, I am not blind to the fact that they read the same Quran that the dudes at ISIS do. They worship the same God.
Whether their ideologies are the same or not, it is Allah’s name that is uttered when a head is slit.
I don’t know if Allah exists. But if he does, I imagine he’s sitting up there, looking down at us. His eyes permanently welled up with tears, his heart broken.