Indian police man watches as a Muslim house burns
February 27, 2002, was a day of great trial for Muslims of Gujarat. On that day, the supporters of the ruling Bharitiya Janata Party came on streets showing their hatred against Muslims. For almost one month, they would occupy these streets killing Muslims in their sight, burning them and their homes, raping their women and tossing their children in fire. During this period they would kill more than 5,000 people and destroy property worth billions of dollars. During this period, their leaders would denounce Islam and Muslims and demand that Muslims be extradited from the state of Gujarat. The month long orgy of violence and hatred is still afresh in the minds of Muslims and others in India. This year on February 27, Muslim Indians will be asking a few questions, questions that are fundamental to their existence in India.
|1||Why is it that after one year of investigations, some of the major players who caused this genocide are still free?|
|2||Why is that the people of Gujarat voted the ruling BJP again to power?|
|3||Why is that the central government failed to prosecute the chief minister who is responsible for this genocide?|
|4||Why is it that the Muslim world preferred to remain silent on the issue?|
|5||Why is it the United States did not take stronger steps to denounce these terrorists?|
|6||What is the guarantee that Gujarat would not be repeated in other parts of India?|
|7||What should Muslims do if the state and its law enforcement agencies fail to defend its own citizens?|
|8||Will the Muslim leadership in India unite in defense of the rights of Muslims?|
|9||How long will it take for Muslims to live in peace and security in India?|
|10||How long will they be persecuted by the forces of hatred and vengeance?|
These questions are relevant and appropriate as they expose the concerns of the one of the world's largest Muslim population. There are about 200 million Muslims in India, which are at the bottom of all layers of Indian society. Literacy rate among Muslims is the lowest in the nation. Employment in federal and state services is no more than 4 percent. Their representation in law enforcement agencies is the lowest among all other communities. Above all, they have been the worst victims of violence in independent India. More than 10,000 anti-Muslim riots have been reported in India since 1947, when the country achieved its independence from the British colonialists. Ever since the ruling BJP came to power, tirade against Islam and Muslims have been on the rise. During the BJP rule their religion and religious institutions have come under attack. Official discrimination has become a norm rather than an exception.
Muslims in India face two major problems. One is coming from their own leadership, which is silent on some of the fundamental issues raised in the form of questions mentioned above. Second is coming from the fascist leadership of the BJP and its various affiliates such as the Rashrtiya Swaym Sewak Sangh, the Bajarang Dal, the Shiv Sena and hundreds of other organizations in different aspects of Indian life. The RSS believes in a Hitler like solution of minorities in India. It considers the Muslim presence in India a threat to India's Hindu traditions and demands Muslims to rescind certain verses of the Quran.
The Muslim leadership in India has failed to develop a coherent strategy to fight the fascist forces. The leadership is divided and indulges in infighting rather than facing the emerging challenges in an organized manner. Consequently, the Muslim community is exposed to violence, hatred and discrimination. Hopefully, on February 27, the leadership will have a moment or two to reflect on the plight of its people and will at least resolve to face the fascist forces in alliance with those secularists in India who feel that India has been usurped by people who are religious bigots.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is the Editor of the Minaret magazine which is a monthly publication from Los Angeles, California.
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