When you link a person’s behavior with their religion and use it to negatively brand everyone from that group, you end up condemning both them and yourself to a lifetime of fear and conflict.
Our rulers drive, thrive and survive on our prejudices
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological wing Rashrtiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – it is devilishly ironic to see organizations, whose leadership endorses an agenda which can only be described as nauseatingly communal and scandalously evil, have names that sound so noble and inclusive – are hell-bent on painting Muslims living in India as anti-social elements.
This is a project that has been carried out for quite some time and it has the blessings of people at the very top. What they are essentially doing is to further stoke our feelings of fear and hatred for ‘the other’ – a group that is supposed to be held responsible for everything that is wrong with the country.
Some of us have chosen to be misled
The sad part is that many people are gullible enough to fall for this highly divisive narrative. Goebbels knew this, Goering knew this and so does the leadership of our government. And that is exactly why they have a well oiled IT machine, the boot-licking print and Television journalists (also know in India as Godi Media) and an overzealous troll army that actively circulates misinformation about Muslims and anyone who supports them (I am one among those and we go by several names like The Illiberal brigade, Pseudo-liberals, Sickulars, Khan market gang, Tukde tukde gang, Urban Naxals and Aaptards among others – feel free to add any other names that you may have come across).
This behemoth of a propaganda machine goes into an overdrive every time there is even a slight hint of protest from the other side. Which is exactly what has happened over the past few days. They will not even leave the slightest of opportunities to malign Muslims and paint them as the enemy-in-chief. It is true that people have always looked at the followers of Islam in India with even greater suspicion ever since partition took place and that suspicion has led to countless incidents of communal violence in the country where a majority of the victims are Muslims and in most cases; they do not get justice for the crimes committed against them. It is not just Muslims though. Other minorities like Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandits who are also searching for some semblance of fairness and equity which still eludes them.
World events have played their role in trying to pull us apart
One of the main reasons of this widespread alienation of Muslims by a huge section of our society has been the rise of religious fundamentalism and terrorism which is seen to be propagated by some people who are terrorists in reality but they believe in portraying themselves as the ‘saviors of Islam’ to try and gain legitimacy among the Muslim population and indoctrinate people to incite violence and pick up arms. The spate of bomb terrorist attacks in Indian cities by people, who profess to be the true followers of Islam but in reality don’t know a thing about their religion, has also complicated the issue.
This leads to a general feeling within other religious groups present in any country to try and restrict their presence in our society and express a degree of mistrust against them. And then those who are discriminated against also have some anti-social elements who use the unfair treatment by some to justify violence against all when the cold, hard truth is that it is always the innocent who suffer from these bombings. Incidentally, the victims in these bomb blasts also include Muslims, the same people whose interests these terrorists are claiming to fight for.
Our political masters capitalize on the fear among those people (unfortunately they are a very big group that is both powerful and vocal) who want to show Muslims that their true place in a futuristic Hindu Rashtra (India is still a secular state, much to the disappointment of those supporting the divisive agenda of our present government) will only be that of second-class citizens.
But we Indians will ultimately come back together
Something that a majority of Indians will resist. It is still my firm belief, a conviction that was reinforced by the recent protests (currently ongoing in various parts of the country) against the government, that we will not let the nefarious agenda of the BJP succeed. We are just too diverse in nature to be ruled by any right-wing or left-wing ideology. The only ideology we believe in is one where our diverse religions, regions, languages, food habits and lifestyle choices are respected and celebrated.
This government may have overplayed their hand by bulldozing over the parliament with a Citizenship Bill that is the most bigoted piece of legislation that I have ever seen. To discriminate among the persecuted (someone who has to run away from their country and seek shelter in another for fear of being killed) was the most vile idea that could have come from a person. The fact that it came from people who were democratically elected is even more disgusting. They may have won in the Parliament but they have lost in the streets.
In spite of the police brutality, a string of curfews and the factually incorrect and morally repugnant reporting by a section of our media who is still refusing to listen to its people, the protests are only gathering more strength. The real question is: Will the government back down?
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