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The idea of liberty in a world that hates ‘kafir’ (www.sundayguardianlive.com)


‘Kafir hate’ via a hostile mindset is finding institutional inroads and bases to its justification in many countries, not limited to the Islamic nations alone.

 

A disturbing twitter post has left me and several others perturbed over the past week:

“This tweet in Kashmiri addressed to me says ‘May your dead body be found on Houston (USA) highways along with the dead-body of your children’. This is just one sample of abuse I get everyday for tweeting about Kashmir. I get scared, traumatized, worried for my family, I block and move on because I know I won’t get the support.”

This is what Sunanda Vashisht, a full time professional and a known voice of Kashmiri Hindus posted on 1st July 2020.  

A few days before the American Independence Day, this has more reasons for diaspora to be concerned than one. The famous words of Abraham Lincoln at his Gettysburg Address, acclaimed as the best known sentence in English language states thus stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Faith is an important aspect of one’s identity and to exercise it freely forms one of the basic principles of liberty and freedom. Critics of ‘Jehad’ are labelled as intolerant; the dictionary meaning of it being ‘a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty’.

Many followers of the Islamic faith will reject ‘Jehad’ as their movement. Infact, there are champions of the Islamic faith who espouse principles of freedom, liberty, justice and equality. In a recent address to an Islamic Research Centre, Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish Presidential spokesperson said, “Sixty percent of conflicts in the world today are happening in Muslim countries. This must be a hard lesson for all of us. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, constantly taking the side of world peace and global justice”.

There are atleast 50 countries that are Muslim-Majority (over 50% Muslim population). Among the prominent Islamic states are: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, and Yemen. There are states where Islam is politically defined state religion: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Somalia and Brunei.

Turkey, a modern, democratic and secular state has just recently after much debate and world attention, converted the Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal cathedral into a Mosque. Almost 85 years back, in 1935, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum, prohibiting the use of the building as a place of worship. In 2006, the Turkish government first allowed the construction of a small prayer room for both Christian and Muslim devotees, and since 2013, from the minarets of the museum the muezzin sings the call to prayer twice a day.

Malaysia, celebrated as ‘truly Asia’ the government in 1970s implemented a Bumiputra (son of the soil) policy that is designed to favour indigenous Muslim population of the country by affirmative action in public sector.
Oh! and the case of ‘Everest Moorthy’ hasn’t been forgotten by the Hindus in Malaysia. A Tamil practicing Hindu, he was a member of the first group of Malaysians to climb Mount Everest in 1997. He died at the age of 36 on 20 December 2005 and his family were denied the body under Shariah law stating that Moorthy had converted to Islam before his death. His family were Hindu so they were denied the right to cremate him. Moorthy’s wife filed petitions but the High Court dismissed the application, stating it had no jurisdiction to determine whether Moorthy had converted to Islam, because the Syariah High Court had already ruled on the matter. Though there was no record, no evidence of Moorthy converting to Islam, the family were not able to attend his funeral nor participate in his last rites.

Pakistan government gave permission to the construction of a Krishna temple in Islamabad, its first ever in 2018. Hailed as a significant step to ‘Naya Pakistan’ vision of more tolerant, chapter for the country especially as the Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered a sanction of nearly a fifth of the total cost of the temple, $1.3 million for its construction. The Muslim clerics stepped in immediately and for the past two years pressured the government into disallowing the construction of a temple in a Muslim majority country. Citizens were mobilised heavily criticising the government for misusing public money and finally the government backtracked a few days ago its pledge to donate the money seeking counsel from the Council of Islamic ideology. The temple site was vandalised heavily with videos and imagery of this in progress shared on social media. None of the vandals have been arrested. Pakistan, though founded as an Islamic state had a secular, democratic constitution drafted by its founder, Mohd Ali Jinnah which has converted to more radically Islamic Nation than what was proposed. Next door in India, there are over 300,000 – 400,000 mosques in the country, with around 22 in the 10 km radius of Delhi (excluding the NCR region).

The world is dealing with an increasing intolerance; ‘Kafir Hate’ via a hostile mindset that is finding institutional inroads and bases to its justification in many countries, not limited to the Islamic Nations alone. Jehadi Johns are created in the West and radicalised. Burhan Wanis are celebrated as Mujahids, children are being brainwashed to pelt stones and fight for ‘azadi’.
And Sunandas of the free world are terrorised for talking about her personal tragedy, of having suffered an ethnic genocide in Kashmir, at the behest of slogans shouted from the local mosque: “Die, Convert or Leave”, just because she is a Hindu.

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*Lakshmi Kaul is a British Indian living in London

 

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