By Aijaz Zaka Syed
December 01, 2008
Watching the terror nightmare unfold in Mumbai over the past three days on TV, my children have repeatedly asked me: “Who are these terrorists and why are they doing this?” And every time I wished I could offer them a convincing answer. I was clueless why these people had taken over Mumbai and were targeting people who had nothing to do with them. I was also ashamed to tell them that the terrorists were Muslims and came from a country that was created in the name of Islam.
At work, while my colleagues went about covering the madness in Mumbai and laying out pages with the images of the Taj Hotel with its Islamic arches and domes go up in smoke, I find it hard to look at them in the eye.
This happens all the time. Every time innocents are targeted in the name of Islam around the world, one can’t face one’s non-Muslim friends and colleagues. A distraught friend who has devoted her life to speaking and fighting on behalf of Arabs and Muslims wrote: “I’ve had it with the Arabs and Muslims and Islamic militancy. Forgive me but I am throwing in the towel.” I couldn’t write back to her. She grew up in Mumbai and is upset. She went on to say: “The Muslims and Islam have a problem and only they can solve it. If they do not, the whole world will turn against them.”
If this is how our most loyal friends feel, imagine the sentiments and reactions of the rest of the world. Can you blame the world if it’s turning against Muslims? What do you expect when not a day passes without the name of our faith being dragged through the mud by fellow believers around the world?
I know that Muslim leaders, including those in the highest echelons of power, have lately started speaking out against the extremists. The Darul Uloom Deoband in India, one of the oldest and most respected centres of learning in the Muslim world, issued a fatwa against terrorism at a large gathering of Islamic scholars in June. Last month, nearly 5,000 scholars backed the edict at a huge congregation in Hyderabad. The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), and Saudi Arabia have, of late, been vehement in condemning these repulsive acts of violence targeting innocents. But clearly, we need to do more to be heard.
The great irony of the Mumbai attacks is the killing of ATS chief Hemant Karkare, a brave officer trying to establish the link between Hindu extremists and the Malegaon blasts. He was killed outside the Cama hospital on Wednesday night. Obviously, some Muslims do not know their friends from their enemies.
It’s all very well for us to say Islam has nothing to do with extremism and terrorism. We can go on deluding ourselves that these psychopaths do not represent us. However, the world finds it hard to accept this line of argument as it sees the extremists increasingly assert themselves and take the centre-stage while mainstream Islam turns into a moderate fringe.
Aijaz Syed is Opinion Editor, Khaleej Times
Pakistanis, You left us in 1947, Now leave us alone!
By A.M.Jamsheed Bahsa
The Mumbai terror attack has no doubt shocked the nation. It was an attack on Mumbai, an attack on India. It is a matter of concern for all of us Indians. But the community that has to be concerned most is that of the Muslims of India, because those who came and attacked the financial capital on the fateful day of 26/11 were bearing Muslim names and had come from the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
It is a different thing that the Muslims would disown them as practising Muslims, for they were sporting guns and ammunition and above all they were wining and dining, and who knows, womanising, something not expected from hard-core religious elements. To a common man they were just Muslim mercenaries on a mission to cause maximum damage as per the directions of their mentors sitting across the border. They did exactly that and vanished from this world, a fate they deserved most. Then what next? Pakistanis may try to put a brave face but they cannot deny that these evil men were their countrymen, born, brought up and trained by a terrorist organisation in their country for this day.
The Indian Muslims, particularly our Urdu Press should behave responsibly. It is no time for a blame game. It is no time for concoction of a theory of conspiracy alleging complicity of the saffron brigade. It may be best left to the investigating agencies to unravel the real players behind this sordid drama. The whole of India and every Indian is angry. Not for the loss of life and destruction caused alone, but for the attitude of the politicians and helplessness of the government of the day. The people’s ire would be shown elsewhere in the next ballot, but the mood is one of action, a firm action, a decisive message that should go across the borders and the steps that should be taken to secure the nation and insulate it from future attacks. Yesterday it was through land, today it was through sea and who knows tomorrow it may be through air. All these vulnerable places have to be protected and secured for we should allow no incursions into our land from any side. These steps are vital for the future of this country. The prime concern of the citizen today is how safe and secure we are in our own country. This is the general feeling and mood of the countrymen.
Like me, many such Indian Muslims are equally angry and frustrated and unable to understand why disaster after disaster is staring at them all the time. What’s wrong with our community and why are we in such a position of feeling like strangers and alien in our own land. We have been living here for centuries and also after we were ditched by the greatest villain of the century, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Company, who partitioned India in the name of two-nation theory. Don't the Muslims of today feel angry at them for they were responsible for our present state of affairs? They left us, and still they are not leaving us alone to deal with our problems ourselves. Who are they to interfere in our internal matters? Muslims should come out in open and tell the people of Pakistan or any element fighting in the name of Islam to keep off from our problems and mind their own business.
Govt of India did the right thing in issuing a demarche, a strongly worded message to Pakistan, to do something tangible to wipe out the remnants of terror outfits from their soil and hand over all those listed wanted criminals that are enjoying the hospitality of the Pakistani people at the cost of Indians, including the infamous Don Dawood Ibrahim, the kingpin of 1993 Bombay Blasts and whose complicity in 26/11 terror attack can also not be ruled out. President Zardari, came on his knees virtually pleading with India to spare Pakistan and not to punish her as retaliation for the act of a few disgruntled elements. The same voice of concern and anguish came from Premier Gilani and his Foreign Minister recently touring Indian. Mere words would not do, Mr. Zardari and Company, show it in action and deeds alone would gain confidence of the people of India.
Indians demands firm action in one voice and would not tolerate any more attacks on them. Muslims of India are solidly behind the Government and the people of this great country. It is said wise men do not do desperate things in desperate times. It would be wise for Indians to act with restraint. This is the call from across the globe as like us the enemy across the borders too is armed with nuclear arsenals. Any emotive action at this stage would not be acceptable to the world at large either. The world is not prepared to go through a nuclear holocaust. It calls for sober thinking and actions. Pakistan was told in strongest terms that it should act and cooperate with India to solve the terror plot besides curbing the activities of the terror groups that are freely moving in the country. The same sentiments were echoed by US Secretary of State, Condolisa Rice, who is travelling to India shortly, specifically to offer us American support.
It is incumbent on the Muslim intelligentsia and the Urdu Press in particular that they do not inflame passions in any way. Instead, they should send a clear cut message to all the Muslims that India is our country, where we have to live and die. We are Indians and Muslims and there is no distinction between these two. Our prosperity and well being lie here and nowhere else. If we have any problems or grievances, it is for us to try to resolve them in a democratic manner. No one from outside need interfere. We the Muslims of India constitute the biggest Muslim population of the world after Indonesia. Though we are leaderless for the time being , we are resilient enough to sort out our own problems without outside interference as we have been doing in the last 61 years.
The Muslim Press whether it is Urdu Press or any other vernacular managed by Muslims, has a duty of guiding its people in this hour of crisis. Muslims are at a crossroad with no guide in sight. The educated Muslim class should rise up to spread the message of love, compassion and brotherhood. We need to reassure the nation. The bullet of the insane terrorists did not distinguish between Muslims and others. Among those who got killed were a fair number of innocent Muslims too, over 40 at the last count among the 179 dead according to the latest official figures. It was a pathetic description when a bearded Muslim was narrating the ghastly incident at a TV programme, "We, the People" telecast by 24x7 News channel, how six of his family members were brutally killed on the spot while he was away to fetch a water bottle. His voice was chocking, eyes welled up with tears, unable to describe how he would live along with the orphans. This tugged at the hearts of one and all participating in the debate. The silence in the hall was eerie and mood sombre. We could feel the mood of the participants in the debate. Those who were watching too could not control their emotions. Our eyes too welled up, some hid their faces with their hands, and a few were seen fighting their tears. One could immediately feel as if our own family members were killed there. Imagine how the family of 195 people who were killed would be feeling at the loss of their near and dear ones. Think again of the sacrifice made by our great son of India Karkare, ATS Chief, and five others of his team, who laid down their lives performing the sacred duty of this great nation. This was the tragedy that unfolded on 26/11. My heart goes out to all those families who are grieving over the loss of their dear ones.
Our nation is great and so are our people. The spirit is high and India will certainly bounce back. Mumbai's cosmopolitan spirit is springing back to normalcy, with business as usual. But the incident has left a deep scar on the psyche of the people. Let’s all allow our investigating team the time and peace to probe while people keep a tight vigil in their respective places. Till such time, do not lend ears to rumours. It is our ardent duty to guard our unity in diversity with life. Jai Hind.
A.M.Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist
‘Enough is enough’
By FARAH KHAN ALI
2 Dec 2008, 0000 hrs IST
I am angry, frustrated, upset and emotionally distraught with the terror attack that struck our city and nation on the night of 26th November 2008. How dare this happen to us, how dare these people be allowed to enter our land with arms and ammunition without the government taking any responsibility for this major catastrophe....
I was in Dubai the night the terror struck and was sitting next to an Arab woman while watching the news. She was cursing Osama Bin Laden and saying that how dare he call himself a Muslim because no religion allows you to kill another human being. She was angry with him for allowing the world to believe that Islam preaches hate and that due to the fanaticism propagated by him, people wanted to believe that terror had a religion.
Namely Islam... I even got a message by sms from my friend Mrs Sharmila Thackeray saying that, ‘All those who had lost their lives while saving this city are Marathis and that MNS workers are busy donating blood and helping police for rescue operations.’ At first I was shocked then angry as I had just heard the news that my close friend Ashish Chaudhary had lost his sister and brother-in-law. I sent her back a message telling her to get a life as in times like this one does not care from where you come from, it is a humanitarian loss. I could not believe that at time like this Raj Thackeray and his wife were trying to promote party politics. I also know that after she reads this she may never talk to me again but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I am not going to take this lying down anymore and not show my outburst to these politicians because a member of my family or I know them personally...
Kudos to Mrs Hemant Karkare, the widow of an exceptional office who died in the field of duty, when she refused to take any compensation from Narendra Modi... I doubt either of these politicians would be brave enough to put their lives ahead of their countrymen. Why should we spend so much money providing Z level security for politicians who... divide our country with their inflammatory speeches?
Frankly in a country of ONE BILLION people we do not have ONE person who can truly be called our ‘LEADER’... As a citizen of India I do not want to waste my vote voting for a government that does not care, and one that makes promises only at the time of the elections. I... urge the people of India not to cast their votes for any party until they pledge their own lives to protect the citizens of this country at whatever cost...
FARAH KHAN ALI