'You Cannot Battle One Communalism by Cherishing Your Own'
NEW DELHI: Dear Salafists, Hindutva-ists, Evangelists et al,
You know we ---and yes I think I am speaking for all secularists---are getting so tired and fed up of you peoples rantings and ravings. More so in countries where your religion is in the majority and where you take full advantage of that to attack minorities, to encourage violence, to wage wars and to kill with impunity. So you go out as Islamists in Bangladesh to kill those who do not approve of your ways, you go out as the Hindutva brigade in India to create communal strife, you go out as Jihadists in Pakistan to kill the minorities and Muslims from other sects, you go out in West Asia to wage wars and indulge in the most reprehensible of crimes along with the United States and Nato forces to disable nations and peoples.
And for all of you, your worst enemy remains the secularist. As you cannot stand her insistence on equality, her fight for justice, her struggle for liberty and freedoms. You often huddle together all of you in what you call inter-religious dialogue, and your target remains those who do not fall in line and keep insisting that there is more to a world order than just old religious tenets. And that the world has evolved, and so should the people with it, that rationality and reason has a place, that all humans are born equal and should remain equal, that justice has to applied with an even hand, and that governments cannot be of a religious hue.
This, even as most of you take full advantage of the rights guaranteed to you under democratic Constitutions to follow your religion, to observe your culture, to preach, to run schools, to flourish and not just live. You forget that these laws represent a hard struggle by the secularists, to keep nations free, and to ensure that the yoke of religion does not drag us down into intellectual impoverishment from which there is no escape. And instead religion works as a liberating force, inclusive and not exclusive, equal and just.
We are tired of the Indian media, indeed the media across the world, that mocks at these freedoms by attacking violence through religion. For instance the media that has come out in droves to try and hang preacher Zakir Naik who has been delivering his sermons for nearly three decades now from Mumbai, and is now being pilloried without proof as a terrorist instigator. But we are also sick of persons like Naik who speak with a forked albeit sophisticated tongue, and do not use their reach to preach love and unity and insist instead that their religion is superior to all else. This does not make for sisterhood, this feeds into the overall climate of hate and divisiveness that does not work to make healthy, vibrant nations.
Every day in India we secularists are fighting your hate speech, your intolerance, your communalism. You all insist you are the best, as you walk through our world seeking to destroy the foundation on which secular India rests. It is this secularism that all of you so abhor that has given you the freedom to live and speak as you want in democracies like India. And you want to change the order forgetting that freedoms disappear when chains and shackles are introduced, and all communities suffer the same fate not just the minorities.
Our struggle is not against one of you but all of you, as you have that common bond where you like to use religion to either come to power, or to remain in power. You are not scared of each other, you are terrified of the secularists who come in your way and create obstacles through their determination not to allow you to succeed. You know that every act of terror strengthens you, and weakens secularism and the rights it tries to protect. Take the terror attack in Bangladesh, and look at all those who are feeding off it to get an idea of what one is saying here. There is a vested industry that has grown around terror---that makes the violence even more dangerous and long term in its impact. And you all are part of that industry that makes common cause with the people with the common purpose of dividing them, through suspicion and distrust, and strengthening yourselves.
All of you speak of secularism as if it is a dirty word. You laugh, or at least pretend to, at what you call pseudo-secularism. As you know that it is only the secular voice---be it in UK, South Asia, Europe, US ----that is resisting the attempts to divide and fracture the peoples into categories by giving them labels (immigrants, refugees, minorities) and creating the ‘other’ to mobilise support for our selves in the wake of bloody terror and violence.
Look at what Saudi Arabia has done to Yemen, what Turkey has done to Syria, what the US has done to the world, what South Asian countries are doing to their own people and to each other. There is resistance by the secularists in all this part of the world, seemingly weak today in the face of increasing violence by forces clearly out of control, but given lessons of history this phase will be but momentary before sanity returns and forces represented by the likes of Trump have to pack their bags and disappear.
So until then, we bid you adieu. Remember you cannot battle one communalism by cherishing your own.