The Angst of a young Indian Muslim SAIRA MUJTABA Haranguing speeches have been made, huge marches have already been held, volumes have been written on the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office, but in the midst of the din created by proponents and opponents of the incident, lying muffled is the voice of an Indian Muslim. Every time there is an incident involving ‘un-Islamic’ extremists, the common Indian Muslim faces a battle on two fronts. On one hand, one has to face the international platform while on the other, especially after the surge of communalism in the country, the Indian Muslim is expected to either be apologetic or give explanations of such acts. Why on earth do I or any other Muslims have to be apologetic or give explanations about the actions of some extremists who are less than 1% of the total Muslim population? While I fervently condemn the attack on the magazine’s office, I vehemently oppose the provocative mockery of Charlie Hebdo in the name of freedom of speech and expression. Being an Indian Muslim, I expect the very same people who forced M.F. Hussain to die in exile for the ‘objectionable’ paintings of Gods and Goddesses, to come out in the open and condemn the cartoons as well. Indeed, the extremists within the Muslim world have done more harm to Islam than the cartoons, but I as a young Indian Muslim appeal to fellow Muslims to stand up against the extremists and to others for their support to the common Muslim instead of seeking apologies and explanations for the barbaric acts. Starting with 9/11, if anyone has suffered the most from the terrorist attacks, it is the common Muslim. As a result, I have witnessed the emergence of two eccentric factions of Muslims. One, who in order to escape the humiliation and mental trauma, join the bandwagon of those who point fingers at Islam and are ensconced on the chair of a ‘liberal Muslim’; and on the other hand there is a section who become defensive to such an extent that they denounce everything that is western and become bigoted towards other beliefs. This leaves me and a majority of Muslims in a fix, who offer their prayers but also love watching movies with friends. We are facing a battle on two fronts again. While excusing oneself for namaz, makes us earn the suspicion of being a fanatic; going out with friends to watch movies make us a ‘bad’ Muslim in the eyes of other self-proclaimed custodians of Islam. Have we become so myopic and prejudiced? Is there no place for a balance? Have we created a world where everything is either black or white? These are the questions that haunt me every day. Any answers?