By: Ranjona Banerji
Soon after news that a bomb had gone off near government buildings in Oslo, Indian and international news channels started speculating on which Islamic group could have been responsible. Experts -- if that is what one can call them -- even tried to name groups from the trickle of information coming out of Norway.
The only responsible players in this were the Norwegians themselves who largely refused to speculate as they grappled with the fact their largely peaceful country had been targeted. But a few hours later, when tragedy was compounded by news of the shootings at Utoya Island and the fact that the shooter was 'Nordic' looking, the 'experts' vanished.
What is evident is that intolerance -- whether it is saffron, green or any other colour -- is a killer
As events have played out, the story is far murkier than just the usual suspects -- Islamic terrorists of one or the other militant group. Anders Behring Breivik has claimed responsibility for the bomb in Oslo as well as the deaths at Utoya -- a total of 76 victims at last count and his inspiration comes from, among other things, India's Hindutva movement. A Christian of the far right and distinctly anti-Muslim, Breivik researched anti-Islamic movements across the world. His ideas, espoused in a 1,500 page manifesto, provide a chilling example of the frightening nature of rightwing religious intolerance. He targeted the government for its multi-cultural policies and for encouraging an influx of Muslims into Norway. A good part of his inspiration also came from the Sangh Parivar.
Sadly, Mumbai, India's most cosmopolitan city, has been victim of this kind of thinking. Every bomb blast and terrorist attack we suffer in this city can find its roots in some kind of religious rightwing idea and the attendant intolerance. What is evident is that intolerance -- whether it is saffron, green or any other colour -- is a killer.
In India, the minute anyone mentions terrorism by Hindu groups, the Hindutva rightwing erupts with rage. But TV-camera inspired anger cannot take us away from the facts. It was a few bold officers within Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad who bucked the trend and uncovered the terror cells within Hindutva groups. And in case anyone needs reminding, there are all those riots where Hindus have killed Muslims.
Does this mean that Islamic terrorism is not a threat? Of course it is -- no one is foolish enough to suggest that we have not suffered because of it. But it is not the only threat. And Anders Behring Breivik has just reminded the world that we've got to open our eyes and look around more carefully.
Source: Mid Day, Mumbai