By Ram Puniyani
27 March 2019
The horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15th March, Friday 2019 has shaken the World. The killer, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, is an Australian citizen. Nearly 50 People died in the attack as two mosques were attacked. Those killed include nine from India. Tarrant had fixed the camera on his head so as to live stream the massacre. What prompted him to undertake this violence was his ideology which holds that today Europe is facing the threat of Muslim immigration and violence. The Christchurch terrorist was consumed by intense racism and hatred of Muslims. He posted a long statement, “manifesto” on ‘white nationalism’ before undertaking the dastardly act.
All over the World there were diverse reactions to this horrific act. New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern, who at 38 years of age is also among the youngest heads of government in the world, declared that the victims, many of whom may be migrants or refugees, “are us” and the shooter “is not”. The overriding theme of the Prime Minister’s statements was that her country represents “diversity, compassion and refuge”. “I want to assure people… that all our agencies are responding in the most appropriate way that includes at our borders.”
The Pope in a very touching speech said, “In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand… I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community… ”
Interestingly as in India the Islam-Muslim phobia is founded on the narrow version of history. This phobia against Muslims in the World began more so after 9/11 twin tower attack. This phobia has by now constructed the ‘History’ which gives details of the Muslim invaders. This as we see in India is again selective. In Europe there have been all types of invasions, but what is highlighted in this version is the Ottoman invasion only which came from a Muslim ruler.
Tarrant’s note though sounds very base and hateful will have agreement from many such believing in sectarian notion of politics and history. Interestingly again taking revenge of past is one of the dimensions of the agenda governing these ideologues “To take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history.” Again the radicalization of the likes of Tarrant is due to current rabid propaganda in the Western media where Muslims are presented in the negative light. Many of newspapers and media groups like the Daily Mail in the UK and Fox News in the US are in the lead of this spreading of negative perceptions against Muslims. Such propaganda along with many a anti-immigrant and xenophobic websites are spreading hatred against Muslims which in turn is the foundation of the attacks on Muslims. Muslims are also being demonized by portraying them as them as less than trustworthy, lesser citizens and inferior humans. Many more such biases and myths are prevalent in India also. In Western mode of propaganda Muslims are now being portrayed as people whose wearing of the hijab is sufficient proof that they are against the norms of the West, are against the US Constitution, for example
One recalls the Norwegian Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik at this point of time. Brevik had killed 69 youth with his machine gun. He also had issued a manifesto. His primary goal was to remove Muslims from Europe. He also called for cooperation with Jewish groups in Israel, Buddhists in China, and Hindu nationalist groups in India to contain Islam. He wrote “It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical.”
What is noteworthy is that there is strong parallels between Breivik’s manifesto and ideology of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of nature of Islam—Muslims and coexistence with Muslims. Much like European mainstream rightwing parties BJP in India does condemn the violence for name sake but does not condemn the underlying ideology which is based on Islam phobia.
This despicable politics in a way is the outcome of the ideology of ‘Clash of Civilizations’ propounded by Samuel Huntington. At the end of cold war, with collapse of Soviet Russia, Fukuyama stated that now with the demise of Soviet Union the Western Liberal democracy will be the final form of political system. Building on this Huntington stated that now the primary conflict will be around civilizations and cultures. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world Affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between Nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future." As per this Western civilization is faced with the challenge from the backward Islamic civilization. This provided the base for American policy of attack on many Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Iraq among others.
To counter this thesis United Nation undertook the initiative for ‘Alliance of Civilizations’, when Kofi Annan was the Secretary General. The high level committee appointed by him gave a report, Alliance of civilizations ((http://www.unaoc.org/repository/report.htm), which argues that all the progress in the world has been due to the alliance between different cultures and civilizations.
Today we are facing the times where American politics of control over oil wells led to the formations like Al Qaeda and after 9/11 twin tower attacks; US media popularized the phrase Islamic terrorism. What we are witnessing today is the fall out of the policy which has been pursued to control oil wealth. The aftermath of this has been the White Nationalism which has resulted in Islam-Muslim phobia, which needs to be countered ideologically by promoting the inherent global tendency of alliance between diverse cultures.