Archive for February, 2009

Muslims in revolt – By Farzand Ahmed – INDIA TODAY

February 28, 2009

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&issueid=95&id=30650&Itemid=1&sectionid=3&completeview=1

 

Muslims in revolt

 

Ulema council participants at their meeting

Ulema council participants at their meeting

 

Come election season and the M-word begins to resonate in the nation’s political mindscape. This time around, the poll dynamics of the community have gone into overdrive after the new-found friendship between ‘Maulvi’ Mulayam Singh Yadav and ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ (emperor of Hindu hearts) Kalyan Singh triggered the mushrooming of political outfits across the nation. 

Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, founder of the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) which won 13 seats in the 2005 Assam polls, came to Delhi to announce a pan-India Muslim party, the first since Independence, with units in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. 

An alumnus of Deoband, he has the backing of the Dar-ul-Uloom, Jamaat-ul-Ulema Hind, Jamaat-I-Islami Hind and Nadwat-ul-Tameer. The AUDF seems set to contest 20 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Maharashtra and nine in Assam.

 

Similarly, the month-old Ulema Council (UC), created to fight “state terrorism against Azamgarh’s innocent youth” and to demand a judicial inquiry into the Batla House shootout, declared it would ‘bury’ Mayawati’s elephant and ‘puncture’ Mulayam’s bicycle in this election. 

Its February 20 rally at Lucknow reflected the mood of the Muslims who feel they are the victims of political gamesmanship. Sonia Gandhi was referred to as sunehri nagin (golden serpent) and Mayawati kali nagin (black serpent). 

Mufti Abdullah Phoolpuri, one of UC’s top leaders, said it would field its own candidates as most leaders forget the community once elected.


 

The launch of another front

The launch of another front

 

Meanwhile, Salim Peerzada, president of the Parcham Party of India (PPI), which has been contesting elections since 2002, has cobbled together a new front consisting of PPI, the All India Muslim Masjid and the National Loktantrik Party (NLP)—all of who have contested elections. 

“We want to create a 21st-century party, a secular-democratic outfit. Our objective is to help create a third front of Muslim-led, leftist, secular and centrist parties. We want to live in a democratic set-up and get our due, but not by extra-constitutional means,” says Peerzada. 

The trend is clearly national. Tamil Nadu, for instance, has seen a new Muslim-based political party Manidaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK). According to M.H. Jawahirullah, coordinator, MMK, the party will establish “a strong India… As a Muslim, it is our fundamental duty to strive for the development of our nation.”

 

While much of the political churning has to do with Uttar Pradesh, the parties are of significance considering the importance of the Muslim vote. Muslims form more than 30 per cent of the electorate in 42 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies in the country. 

West Bengal accounts for 10 of them; Uttar Pradesh and Kerala come next with eight each while Assam and J&K account for five each. However, in constituencies where their percentage is between 20 and 30 per cent, the number of seats rises to a staggering 140, including 20 in Uttar Pradesh. 

The highest concentration of Muslims (between 10 and 20 per cent) is in Uttar Pradesh (42 constituencies), West Bengal (20), Bihar (17), Assam, Karnataka and Kerala (8 each), Maharashtra (7), J&K, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh (6 each). 

New political alliances could rework the electoral calculus

New political alliances could rework the electoral calculus

In any Lok Sabha poll calculus, Uttar Pradesh—and consequently the Muslim vote—is the key. In the 1998 Lok Sabha polls only 7 per cent of Muslims voted for the BSP and 61 per cent voted for the SP, and in the 2007 Assembly polls, 32 per cent voted for the BSP and 40 per cent for the SP. Mayawati’s plan to turn the division in her favour could well upset Mulayam’s calculations. 

The Mulayam camp believes their leader would regain the confidence of Muslims once candidates and alliances are in place. 

So what impact would the new Muslim-oriented groupings have on traditional poll arithmetic? Analysts believe new parties like the UC might end up helping the BJP. 

“Its provocative slogans and posturing would polarise voters in favour of the BJP,” said Muslim Majlis vice-president Bader Kazmi. Others think that Uttar Pradesh already has seen a number of Muslim outfits that fell by the wayside. 

 Latest alliances

  • Feb 23, 2009: UP Milli Mahaz — Formed by three existing parties—PPI, AIMM and NLP, all of which have fought elections. Wants to create a secular democratic outfit and a third front of Muslim-led parties. The AIMM is a known party since 1968 and the other two have their own areas of influence
  • Feb 19: Ulema Council — Held rallies in Delhi and Lucknow and plans to contest 8 seats in Uttar Pradesh. May help polarise votes in favour of the BJP.
  • Feb 16: Secular Ekta Party — Formed by Haji Shahid Akhlaque, after denial of ticket by SP. He was BSP’s Lok Sabha MP in 2004 and later joined the SP. May create an impact in Meerut with former minister Haji Yaqoob.
  • Feb 8: MMK — Launched in Chennai to strive for the development of the nation, welfare of minorities and the underprivileged sections.
    MMK coordinator M.H.Jawahirullah says the party was launched with a view to establish “a strong India through service to the society.”New in the political arena and just a beginner.
  • Feb 2, 2009: United Democratic Front –Launched by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal of AUDF which won 13 seats in the 2005 Assam polls. Called the MUDF in Maharashtra, the party, along with other outfits, can affect the BSP and SP in western Uttar Pradesh.
  • Feb 10, 2008: Peace Party of India — Launched by surgeon Dr Mohammad Ayub to unite Dalits, Muslims and the backward classes. May have an impact in pockets of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Existing Muslim parties include Salauddin Khan’s People’s Democratic Front (PDF), the Peace Party of India led by surgeon Mohammad Ayub, the Majlis-e-Mashawart and the National Loktantrik Party. There is also the Insaan Dosti Party, led by former director-general of police S.M. Naseem. But most don’t last. 

The 2007 Assembly polls in the state saw the PDF, supported by CPI (ML) and the late V.P. Singh’s Jan Morcha, and Shahi Imam Ahmad Bukhari’s United Democratic Front (UDF) making waves but later their leaders were won over by Mulayam or just disappeared. Other states have well established Muslim parties. 

These including the India Union Muslim League of Kerala and the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Musalmeen in Andhra Pradesh.What is more relevant in the Muslim context is the sociological profile. Muslims in southern and western India are better off because the wealthy among them stayed back during Partition whereas most of the educated and wealthy Muslims in the north migrated to Pakistan. 

Then there is caste, which does not exist in theory but divides the community into three groups—Ashraf, Ajlaf, and Arzal. The Ashraf are upper-class Muslims, while the Ajlaf are Hindu converts. The Arzal are considered converts from the lowest Hindu castes. 

This complex sociological structure is prone to being upset by shifting poll alliances, especially in Uttar Pradesh. The coming together of Mulayam and Kalyan has already disturbed the poll arithmetic in the state. 

Veteran leaders, including former minister Mohammad Azam Khan, and influential MPs like Saleem Shervani, Shafiq-ur-Rahman Barq, Afzal Ansari and Shahid Akhlaque have rebelled against Mulayam and, barring Azam Khan, one of the creators of the SP, have walked out on him.

Other controversial leaders—Atiq Ahmad and Mukhtar Ansari, in jail, and Rizwan Zahir— have shifted to Mayawati. “Mulayam’s alliance with Kalyan has created revulsion among Muslims. He will have to pay dearly,” said state Nationalist Congress Party chief Ramesh Dixit. 

Indeed, the ‘revulsion’ runs so deep that SP national general secretary Amar Singh was turned away from the seminaries of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband and Dar-ul-Uloom (Waqf) when he tried to explain that the deal with Kalyan was to weaken the BJP. 

In Lucknow, Mulayam invited over 100 religious leaders to discuss his political moves but failed to convince them. Kalyan’s record in Uttar Pradesh makes matters worse, apart from his role in the Babri Masjid demolition. 

After quitting the BJP, he formed his own regional party, helped Mulayam form a government in 2003 and in the bargain got ministerial berths for his son Rajbir and confidante Kusum Rai. Later, on the eve of the 2004 general elections, he dumped Mulayam and returned to the BJP.

“He is a four-ticket leader. He will go with any party which would give tickets to Kusum, his son, his daughter-in-law and him,” says Dixit.

Now, he is the cause of the Muslim revolt against Mulayam by seasoned politicians— many of who were looking at the BSP after Mulayam either changed their constituencies or denied them tickets. SP leaders believe, however, that it could well be a knee-jerk reaction.

All India Babri Masjid Action Committee chief Zafaryab Jilani says: “Except for shaking hands with Kalyan, Mulayam has not yet done any harm to Muslims, so the damage is not irreparable.”

At the root of the controversy is vote share. While Mulayam wants to get the Lodh vote (2.5 per cent) in central Uttar Pradesh to add to the Muslim (18.5 per cent), Yadav (8.61 per cent) and Thakur (12.78 per cent) vote, Mayawati wants to corner Muslim votes and add them to the Dalit (21 per cent), Brahmin (13.82 per cent) and Vaish (3.91 per cent) vote.

The emergence of new Muslim groupings may not amount to significant vote shifts in the coming polls, but the political churning does indicate that the Muslim vote cannot be taken for granted. The battle to win the Hindi heartland and Muslim minds has been joined.

Israel responsible for Darfur crisis: Gadhafi (JTA)

February 28, 2009

ISRAEL WAS THERE IN DHARFUR, WHEN THE WORLD HAS YET TO HEAR THE NAME OF DHARFUR. WHY SHOULD ISRAEL HAVE A POST IN THAT BACK OF BEYOND FOREIGN LAND, UNLESS IT HAS BEEN PLANNING ITS TRADEMARK CONSPIRACY OF WARS, SUBVERSION AND DOMINATION IN AREAS WITH HIGH ECONOMIC OR POLITICAL POTENTIAL. IT IS INTRIGUING WHY THE WORLD MEDIA HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO REMAIN SILENT ON ISRAEL’S COMPLICITY IN DHARFUR AND HOW GADHAFI GOT THE NERVE TO TAKE UP THE NAME OF THE DEVIL THAT HAUNTS AFRICA.

GHULAM MUHAMMED, MUMBAI


Gadhafi: Israel responsible for Darfur crisis

February 24, 2009

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi said Israel is to
blame for the crisis in Darfur.

Gadhafi, president of the African Union, said Tuesday that “foreign
forces,” including Israel, are to blame for the genocide in the Sudan
region.

“We discovered that some of the main leaders of the Darfur rebels
have opened offices in Tel Aviv and hold meetings with the military
there to add fuel to the conflict fire,” the Libyan state news agency
Jana quoted Gadhafi as saying, Ha’aretz reported.

Gadhafi urged the International Criminal Court to stop proceedings to
decide whether to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President
Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is accused of masterminding the genocide.

“Why do we have to hold President Bashir or the Sudanese government
responsible when the Darfur problem was caused by outside parties, and
Tel Aviv, for example, is behind the Darfur crisis?” he said.

===

Analyzing Darfur’s Conflict of Definitions 
Interview With Professor Mahmood Mamdani 
By Isma’il Kushkush 
IOL Correspondent — Sudan

 
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1234631424592&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs/MAELayout 

If you define it as a “war of liberation”, you have a different attitude to it… If you define “violence” as “self-defense” or as “aggression” you have a different attitude to that violence. (PiD Team) 

“How you define the [Darfur] problem shapes the solution,” says a world renowned Africa specialist in an interview with IslamOnline.net. 

Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University, US believes that defining the conflict as Arab against African is inaccurate and says much more about the potency of race in the West rather than the relevance of the notion in Darfur. He believes that estimates of 400,000 dead in Darfur are inflated, irresponsible and unrealistic.

Mamdani, who was named as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by the US magazine Foreign Affairs in 2008, is from Uganda, and is the current chair of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal.

He is the author of numerous books and articles, including the book Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. His upcoming book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, politics and the War on Terror will be published in English by Pantheon (Random House, New York) on March 17, 2009 and by Verso (London) a month later.

Following is the full interview conducted by IOL correspondent in Khartoum, Sudan, Isma’il Kushkush.

• “Black Africans” Against “Arabs”?
• Media Usage of African vs. Arab
• A “Genocide”?
• “Genocide” vs. “Counter-insurgency”
• “Dead” vs. “Killed” Controversy
• Contrast in Numbers of Dead
• “Right” vs. “Wrong” to Avoid Political Complexity
• Darfur’s Terminology: Of Importance?

IslamOnline.net (IOL): The conflict in Darfur is often described in the media and by activists as a war pitting “black Africans” against “Arabs”. How accurate do you think this description is?

Prof. Mahmood Mamdani: Even if you take the terms for granted, the majority of the “Arabs” in Darfur — the southern Rozayqat [Arab clans] — are not involved in the conflict. If you narrow the focus to those who are involved in the conflict, which is the northern Rozayqat, the Fur, the Masaleet, and the Zaghawah, then you realize that the distinction which best captures the difference between them is that the northern Rozayqat are those tribes in Darfur who received no [tribal] homeland, no “dar”, in the colonial dispensation, because the colonial dispensation did not give a tribal homeland to those who were fully nomadic and were thus without settled villages. At the same time, the colonial dispensation gave the largest homelands to peasant tribes with settled villages… Please continue reading the full answer for this question here

Media Usage of African vs. Arab

IOL: Why do you think that activists and the media, especially the Western, define the conflict in Darfur in such a simplified manner: African vs. Arab?

Mamdani: Well, I think it is political. You can make sense of it not by focusing on those they are defining, but on their audience. Whereas the former live in Darfur, their audience is in the West. They understand that the Western audience would be quick to grasp a racialized distinction and would be easy to mobilize around it. It says much more about the potency of the history of race in the West rather than the relevance of the notion of race in Darfur.

A “Genocide”?

IOL: The conflict in Darfur is described in some corners as “genocide”, while others reject that term and use “civil war”. Can you comment on the usage of the term “genocide”; is it accurate to describe conflict in Darfur as “genocide”?

Mamdani: If you read the two international reports on Darfur, one from the UN Commission on Darfur and the other from the International Criminal Court (ICC), you will find no great disagreement over how many people have died. The real disagreement is on what to call it. The UN Commission says that this is a “counter-insurgency”. They say the killings took place as a consequence of an effort to militarily defeat an insurgency. The ICC says no, this is evidence of a larger intention to kill the groups in question, the Fur, the Masaleet, and the Zaghawah.

How do you prove it? The claim is not made on the basis of those that have actually been killed; the claim is that they would be killed if the conflict went on because that is the intention of the perpetrators. From this point of view, the only way to arrest the killing is to arrest the political leadership of Sudan, and not to urge the two sides to negotiate. The UN Commission was arguing the reverse; that all efforts should be invested in negotiations and in stopping the conflict. The ICC seems to be arguing the opposite; that negotiations would only appease and give time to those who are bent on genocide. It seems to me that the ICC is responding not to what is going on in Darfur but to a particular constituency in the West.

“Genocide” vs. “Counter-insurgency”

Only if you call Darfur “genocide” you can justify an external intervention; if you call it “counter-insurgency”, intervention becomes an “invasion” of Darfur. 
IOL: Why do you think the term “genocide” has been used to describe the conflict in Darfur but not in Congo or Iraq despite the similarities in the conflicts that pit the “state” against an “insurgency”? 

Mamdani: The conflicts in Congo and Iraq are different; the scale of killings is much higher. In Congo it is said to be four to five million. In Iraq it is said to have exceeded a million. So from that point of view, these conflicts are much worse than that in Darfur. The conflict in Iraq arises from an occupation and resistance to an occupation. The conflict in Darfur started as a civil war between tribes in Darfur, 1987 and 1989, and the government was not involved at all. The government became involved, first in 1995 and then 2003, but it is still not an occupation, it is an internal conflict.

So why would what’s happening in Darfur be described as “genocide” while the numbers involved are less than in Iraq and when the conflict began as a civil war between tribes internal to Darfur and only then developed into an insurgency against the central government, followed by a counter-insurgency in response to that insurgency? Why?

The answer is basically that in international law “counter-insurgency” is considered a legitimate response by a government to an “insurgency”; “genocide” is not. Only if you call Darfur “genocide” you can justify an external intervention in Darfur. If you call it “counter-insurgency”, intervention becomes an “invasion” of Darfur. That’s the reason.

“Dead” vs. “Killed” Controversy

IOL: The number of “dead” in Darfur has been an issue of controversy. Can you comment on the studies made on this topic and is there a distinction between the terms “dead” and “killed” in Darfur?

Mamdani: We are fortunate that there was actually a review of all the major studies estimating the mortality in Darfur. The review was in 2006 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which is an audit agency of the US government. The GAO was asked to review six different studies of mortality in Darfur, including a study sponsored by the US state department estimating nearly 400,000 dead over eighteen months in 2003-2004, at the high end, and at the low end a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating 70,000 dead over roughly the same period.

The WHO study made a distinction between those “dead” and those “killed”. It said that roughly 80% of these 70,000 had died from malnutrition, dysentery, from the effects of drought and desertification, and 20% from violence.

The GAO got together with and asked the American Academy of Sciences (AAS) to nominate a team of twelve experts. These experts went over the six studies, and they concluded that the high end studies were totally unreliable in terms of methodology, in terms of projection. Their findings are on the websitewww.gao.gov. These were sent to the US State Department — which agreed with the GAO in writing — and to Congress, and then to the media, which basically ignored it. I find it quite amazing that it did not have any impact on the public debate in the United States or in the West. The public debate continued to be dominated by the Save Darfur Coalition and its totally inflated, irresponsible, and unrealistic estimates of 400,000 dead. The problem is that this is a very politicized movement which has had no effective counter-response.

Contrast in Numbers of Dead

There is refusal to acknowledge that people are also dying from other causes, drought and desertification. So instead of a debate on how many could have been saved had there been no conflict, there is simply silence. (Reuters Photo) 
IOL: Whatever the real numbers of dead in Darfur are, no one can deny a tragedy has occurred. But why do you think there is a contrast in the numbers of dead used by activist groups, the media, and even governments? 

Mamdani: I think the answer is two fold: One, there is a legitimate debate. Let’s say, take the WHO figures, 70,000 died. 20,000 roughly died from violence, 50,000 roughly died from non-violent causes, mainly children dying from dysentery, things like that. Now the debate is this: One group says those who died from violence are the only ones who died from the conflict. The other groups say: Not really. Many of those who died from non-violent causes like dysentery really died from indirect effects of the conflict because the conflict stopped supplies from coming in. From this point of view, those who could have been rescued died, they died of dysentery, but really, had it not been because of the conflict, they would have been saved. That is a legitimate debate. It is a debate that appears in all cases like in the case of the American Indians who died in the Indian genocide you will find many died from diseases, like smallpox, which they did not have to die from. That is a legitimate debate.

There is a second debate that is not legitimate, which is entirely political. The best example is the Save Darfur Coalition and their figures of 400,000. Here you find two things: One you find an extrapolation which is completely unjustifiable and unwarranted. The GAO showed that they [Save Darfur Coalition] extrapolated from deaths in refugee camps in Chad without taking into account any local variations.

They also extrapolate from death rates from 2003, 2004, when the conflict was at its highest, by assuming that the same rate continued in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. This is how the UN got its figure of 300,000 [last year] when Holmes, the undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs said: “It was 200,000 in 2005 therefore it must be 300,000 now”. “Therefore”, meaning, if the same rate continues which is patently absurd, because the UN’s own people on the ground showed that the mortality rates — not just deaths from killings — dropped low in Darfur starting January 2005. It was less than 200 per month, in other words, less than it would take to call Darfur an “emergency”. So this kind of presumption, that nothing has changed, and therefore you just extrapolate from pre-existing rates, is totally unjustifiable.

Also unjustifiable is the Save Darfur Coalition’s refusal to acknowledge that people are also dying from another cause, drought and desertification. So instead of a debate on how many of those could have been saved had there been no conflict, there is simply silence. This too is a deliberate denial to acknowledge a developed catalogued by the UN’s own agency.

“Right” vs. “Wrong” to Avoid Political Complexity

IOL: The conflict in Darfur is portrayed sometimes as a “moral issue”; one that pits “right” against “wrong” as opposed to a “political issue” with its various complications. Can you comment on that, and why do think it is portrayed as such?

Mamdani: It is very important how you define the conflict. In retrospect, one can see that none of those who were involved in this conflict when it began in 1987-1989 as a civil war — the northern Rozayqat one side, the Fur, the Masaleet, and the Zaghawah on the other side — really had control over the issues that triggered the conflict. The issues were no doubt complex.

The really long term issues stemmed from how the British redesigned the hakura [land] system that came out of the Sultanate of Darfur. It eliminated individual ownership and re-divided all the land as “tribal land” with larger hakuras for peasant tribes, smaller ones for semi-nomadic tribes with cattle and no hakuras for fully nomadic tribes with camels. That was one issue. 

The second trigger was ecological, the expanding desert, pushing the tribes in the north down south, leading to the conflict around Jebal Marra. In 1995, the government tried to solve this conflict by giving land to tribes without hakura, but they should have realized that since all the land in Darfur was already divided up, to do it by taking lands from tribes with hakura would restart the conflict, as indeed happened.

In 2003/2004 when the insurgency began, the government responded to it with a purely security framework with no regards for the issues that had led to this conflict with no attempt to solve the basic problem. Because the rebel movements are anchored in those tribes with hakuras, they are not raising the question of land; the question that pushed the hakura-less tribes into the conflict. The government is simply looking at the security question and the issues being raised by the rebels which is the marginalization of Darfur, but not looking at the issues internal to Darfur which created the conflict in the first place. So, the government has a very narrow vision. The government does not seem to have a Darfur vision. It is evident that Darfur is marginal. There don’t seem to be people with a Darfur vision in the government.

Those outside of Sudan, the Save Darfur movement in the US, are looking at it from their own vantage point which is not simply a global vantage point or a West-centered one, but worse, it’s the vantage point of the most reactionary circles in the US, those waging the “war on terror”. They are painting this conflict not as a conflict over questions of land, not a conflict over questions of law and order, an insurgency/counter-insurgency — which is how the Government of Sudan is seeing it —, but as a conflict between “Arab” and “African”; they’ve racialized the conflict completely. They are partly responsible for the conflict being racialized. Consider the fact that it is a much more racialized conflict now than it was five years ago.

When the Save Darfur movement claims that this violence is African versus Arab its explanation is not historical or political. Its explanation basically is that the Arabs are “race-intoxicated” and they are just trying to wipe out the Africans. The Save Darfur movement does not educate the people they mobilize about the history of Darfur. It does not educate them about what issues drive the conflict. So they know nothing about the politics of Darfur, the history of Darfur, the history of the conflict. All they know is that Darfur is a place where “Arabs” are trying to eliminate “Africans”. That’s all. Darfur is a place where “evil lives”, so they have completely “moralized” the conflict and presented it as a struggle against evil. This evil is thus portrayed as ahistorical, or trans-historical, living outside of history — except that evil is said to live in this place called Darfur and Sudan.

The conclusion means of course that you have to eliminate this “evil”. There is no settlement to a conflict like that. You can’t settle it, you can’t negotiate, there is only one way to have peace and which is to eliminate the evil. So ironically they are trying to create that which they say they are combating.

Darfur’s Terminology: Of Importance?

IOL: We’ve discussed the issue of terminology in the Darfur conflict: “genocide” vs. “counter-insurgency”; “African” vs. “Arab”; “killed” vs. “died”; “moral issue” vs. “political issue”. Some would argue that it really does not make a difference if we make these distinctions. How important is it to have a correct understanding of these terms to reach a solution for the Darfur conflict?

Mamdani: How you define the problem shapes the solution. If you define it as a “war of liberation”, you have a different attitude to it. If you define it as “terror”, you have a different attitude to it. If you define the person as a “terrorist” or as a “liberator” you have totally opposite attitudes to that person. If you define “violence” as “self-defense” or as “aggression” you have a different attitude to that violence. If you explain the issues behind the violence you are more likely to address the issues to stop the violence. But if you portray the violence as “senseless” without any reason, with no issues, with no backgrounds, then you are likely to think that the only way to stop the violence is to target those involved in it.

So “definition” is crucial. “Definition” tells you what the problem is. And in a way, the entire debate rightly should be about what the problem is. Every doctor knows that diagnosis is at the heart of medicine; not prescription. Wrong diagnosis, wrong prescription, and the patient will die. The heart of medicine lies in the analysis.

Isma’il Kamal Kushkush is a Sudanese-American freelance writer currently based in Khartoum, Sudan. 

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India’s Muslims chafe under suspicion – By Desikan Thirunarayanapuram – THE WISHINGTON TIMES

February 27, 2009

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/21/indias-muslims-chafe-under-constant-suspicion/

India’s Muslims chafe under suspicion

Desikan Thirunarayanapuram

The Washington Times

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three months after the terrorist siege of India’s commercial capital left more than 160 people dead, the bodies of nine Muslim attackers remain in a city morgue because local Muslims refuse to bury them.

The rejection of Muslim tradition that requires bodies to be buried swiftly, usually the day after death, reflects Indian Muslims’ outrage at the attacks as well as fear that it will be seen as tainted – even though the attackers all appear to have come from neighboring Pakistan.

“These terrorists are a black spot on our religion; we will very sternly protest the burial of these terrorists in our cemetery,” Ibrahim Tai, the president of the Indian Muslim Council, told the British Broadcasting Corp. last year.

After the siege, Mumbai’s Bollywood stars as well as worshippers at mosques across the country wore black badges to express their condemnation.

Once again, India’s Muslims felt pressure to prove themselves patriotic because their religion had been linked to violence. “More than one-fourth of those killed in the Mumbai attacks were Muslims.

It’s ridiculous and offensive to blame India’s Muslims for such attacks just because those terrorists were Muslims and they came from Pakistan,” said Sabitendranath Roy, a noted book publisher, at a seminar on Hindu-Muslim relations in Calcutta after the attacks.

Indian officials have not blamed local Muslims for the attacks, yet the community has expressed a sense of nervousness.

“There is no denying of the fact that in everyday life Muslims are victims of discrimination in Hindu-majority society,” said Mr. Roy, a Hindu whose Center for Hindu-Muslim Understanding organized the seminar.

With more than 150 million Muslims, India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population after Indonesia. India’s Muslims alone could form the world’s eighth-largest country, ahead of Russia and Nigeria. But Muslims comprise only 13 percent to 15 percent of India’s 1.1 billion people.

Sixty years after the partition of British India into Hindu-dominated India and Muslim Pakistan, India has had three Muslim presidents, Muslim cricket stars and a film industry presided over by Muslims.

But in general, Muslims remain second-class citizens. They are poorer and less educated than Hindus, figuring lower than many lower-caste Hindus on several social indicators. Muslims also face discrimination in finding jobs and housing.

The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, worried that poverty and illiteracy could make the Muslim community a breeding ground for violence, set up a committee four years ago to study Muslim status.

The committee findings, presented in November 2006, found that the literacy rate among urban Muslims was 59.9 percent, while the overall rate for urban residents was 80.5 percent.

The commission also found that the country’s Muslim population grew by 2.7 percent from 1961 to 2001, while the overall population grew by 2.1 percent and Hindu and Christian populations by 2.0 percent.

During this period, the share of Muslims in the population rose from 10 percent to 13.5 percent. Manisha Banerjee, a Hindu schoolteacher who spoke at another Calcutta seminar, said that although Muslims were not part of the traditional Hindu caste system, their status is now close to that of Dalits, or untouchables.

Muslim representation in government jobs is between only 2 percent and 5 percent, she said.

The government report “also found Muslims are more likely than Hindus to be illiterate, to live in areas without schools or medical care and, in comparatively more developed urban areas, to live in poverty,” Ms. Banerjee said.

Shabana Azmi, a prominent actress, author and women’s activist, aroused controversy when she said in a television interview in August that India was unfair to Muslims.

She referred to her personal experience in being denied the chance to buy an apartment in Mumbai because she is Muslim. Critics said her comments were irresponsible and a newspaper reported that Ms. Azmi already owned four apartments in the city.

But her remarks resonated among many ordinary Indian Muslims. Laila Atif, 30, a marketing executive, said she has had to move within Mumbai nearly every six months because of discrimination.

“How do you ensure the mainstreaming of a community when there is active discrimination on a basic issue like housing?” she asked.

“Every time there is a terror blast and a Muslim is arrested, it is as if an entire community must accept the blame. Do we demand the same sense of collective guilt from other communities?”

In the television interview, Ms. Azmi, daughter and wife of well-known Muslim poets, said Indian politicians make only “token gestures” toward security for Muslims and don’t address the “real issues.”

She also urged India’s Muslims to move out of the “victim mode” and work for internal reforms on education and gender equality.

Mumbai-based analyst Amaresh Misra, participating in a New Delhi seminar, said the communal divide has remained for decades.

“There is an anti-Muslim undercurrent [which] though small is dominant in levers of power and the corporate class and the business elite. It is this section which has started throwing Muslims out of companies, businesses and [apartments],” he said.

Tensions are such that even the outcome of a cricket game between India and Pakistan can trigger clashes in India, especially in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods.

The destruction of a mosque-temple structure in Ayodhya in northern India – which Hindus believe was the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram – led to carnage in Mumbai and the western state of Gujarat in 1992-93, resulting in nearly 1,000 deaths.

A series of explosions in Mumbai in March 1993, blamed on a Muslim crime boss, killed 250.

A train filled with Hindu pilgrims was set on fire in Gujarat state in February 2002, purportedly by a Muslim mob, killing dozens. In the following months, the state exploded in violence that left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Muslims.

A commission of inquiry later reported that the Hindu nationalist government in the state and the police deliberately failed to stop the killing of Muslims.

Analysts say the slaughter provided incentive for Islamist militants.

A majority of terrorist attacks in the country in recent years have been blamed on Muslim militants, most linked to Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The rise of a local group, however, has given a domestic face to Islamist terrorism. The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) began as a political movement in 1977, but turned extremist over the next decade and was banned after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

The group has since been blamed for dozens of attacks. SIMI, which purportedly received funds from Saudi and Pakistani sources, has said its aim is to create an Islamic state in India.

On the Hindu side, there have also been disturbing trends. Indian investigators said in November that a Hindu terror cell that included a senior military officer and a Hindu nun was responsible for several bombings, including one at Malegaon, a predominantly Muslim town 174 miles northeast of Mumbai, which left six dead in September.

“Last year, 10 Hindu terrorists were caught for terror bomb attacks on Muslims. Yet, they lay blame for all attacks on Muslims.

Even attacks on mosques have been blamed on Muslims by the Hindu groups and even by police,” said Mohammad Ismail, chief cleric of the textile town. His words resonated.

“There are tens of thousands of instances of communal bias by a police force who often consider Muslims nothing more than criminals or terrorists,” said Sujato Bhadra, an executive member of the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights.

Tehelka, a news magazine known for its hidden-camera investigations of corrupt politicians, conducted a three-month-long probe that found “a chilling and systematic witch hunt against innocent Muslims,” the magazine’s chief editor, Tarun J. Tejpal, wrote.

“Sadly, … even the judicial process is often complicit in the terrible miscarriage of justice,” he wrote. “India has 160 million Muslims. Even if 10,000 are radicalized, it’s barely a tree in a forest.

To create an atmosphere that blights the entire forest is a mistake.” •

 

Shaikh Azizur Rahman reported from Calcutta; Anubha Bhonsle contributed from New Delhi.

Top police officers expose Modi’s bias, KPS Gill’s role – World Sikh News

February 20, 2009

http://worldsikhnews.com/18%20February%202009/Top%20police%20officers%20expose%20Modi’s%20bias%20KPS%20Gill%20s%20role.htm

Top police officers expose Modi’s bias, KPS Gill’s role
WSN Network

New Delhi: EVEN AS THE Indian Corporate world led by the likes of Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani wants to see Hindutva mascot like Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister of India, this beloved of the Indian right wing communal forces was splashed in some more shame when two senior police officers told the investigators in a Supreme Court-appointed panel that the Gujarat CM had a pronounced anti-Muslim bias.  

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat saw R.B. Sreekumar, a former additional director general of police (ADGP) who was in-charge of the state Intelligence Bureau during the riots, and Rahul Sharma, the then Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police, questioning the impartiality of the administration.  

“The Chief Minister summoned me to his chamber on May 7, 2002, and instructed me not to concentrate on Sangh Parivar, as its members were not doing anything illegal. He asked me to concentrate on Muslim militants, and get data on Amanpath, suspected to be a Muslim group,” Sreekumar said in his affidavit. Narendra Modi was the CM then.

Predictably, Modi’s government kept mum after the allegation came to light. Modi was famously denied visa by the US because of his ugly record on the human rights front.  

What was even more important was the police officer’s revelations about KPS Gill. This man with a blot the size of the Indian ocean on his face, as a result of his all-blemished track record in Punjab during militancy years, was the one found encouraging Modi in his devious plans.  

“K.P.S. Gill, the adviser to the Chief Minister, had told state police chief K. Chakravarthy not to reform the politicians — meaning thereby , not to take any action against the VHP and Bajrang Dal. The adviser also wanted the police to vacate the riot victims living in the relief camps, exhibiting a clear anti Muslim bias,” Sreekumar said in his affidavit.  

Sreekumar says he is prepared to be cross-examined, and has stood by what he stated on oath in the affidavits. 

Sharma, who is a Deputy Inspector Gneral, CBI, in Mumbai, said: “Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia had contacted me and said the ratio of deaths as a result of police firing was not proper. What I understood was that, he was complaining about more number of deaths of Hindus as compared to Muslims in Bhavnagar city .” 

In his affidavit, prominently reported by the Hindustan Times, Sharma said a large part of the police records related to riots had been destroyed and “it was on my own conscience that I managed to submit to the investigating agencies what I could protect”.  

Interestingly , Sreekumar and Sharma both faced the wrath of the Modi government for not toeing the “official line”. Sreekumar, who retired in February, was chargesheeted in 2005, for leaking intelligence reports.  

Last year, the Ahmedabad bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal quashed the government order and directed payment of all dues to him and slammed the government for denying him a promotion. Sharma was shunted out of Bhavnagar within days of his talk with Zadaphia to an insignificant position in the Ahmedabad Control Room.

18 February 2009
 

Thomas L. Friedman and his readers’ take on Indian Muslim, Indian Islam in The New York Times

February 19, 2009

 Thomas L. Friedman and his readers’ take on Indian Muslim, Indian Islam in The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/opinion/18friedman.html

OP-ED COLUMNIST

No Way, No How, Not Here

 By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

ished: February 17, 2009

NEW DELHI

There are nine bodies — all of them young men — that have been lying in a Mumbai hospital morgue since Nov. 29. They may be stranded there for a while because no local Muslim charity is willing to bury them in its cemetery. This is good news.

The nine are the Pakistani Muslim terrorists who went on an utterly senseless killing rampage in Mumbai on 26/11 — India’s 9/11 — gunning down more than 170 people, including 33 Muslims, scores of Hindus, as well as Christians and Jews. It was killing for killing’s sake. They didn’t even bother to leave a note.

All nine are still in the morgue because the leadership of India’s Muslim community has called them by their real name — “murderers” not “martyrs” — and is refusing to allow them to be buried in the main Muslim cemetery of Mumbai, the 7.5-acre Bada Kabrastan graveyard, run by the Muslim Jama Masjid Trust.

“People who committed this heinous crime cannot be called Muslim,” Hanif Nalkhande, a spokesman for the trust, told The Times of London. Eventually, one assumes, they will have to be buried, but the Mumbai Muslims remain defiant.

“Indian Muslims are proud of being both Indian and Muslim, and the Mumbai terrorism was a war against both India and Islam,” explained M.J. Akbar, the Indian-Muslim editor of Covert, an Indian investigative journal. “Terrorism has no place in Islamic doctrine. The Koranic term for the killing of innocents is ‘fasad.’ Terrorists are fasadis, not jihadis. In a beautiful verse, the Koran says that the killing of an innocent is akin to slaying the whole community. Since the … terrorists were neither Indian nor true Muslims, they had no right to an Islamic burial in an Indian Muslim cemetery.”

To be sure, Mumbai’s Muslims are a vulnerable minority in a predominantly Hindu country. Nevertheless, their in-your-face defiance of the Islamist terrorists stands out. It stands out against a dismal landscape of predominantly Sunni Muslim suicide murderers who have attacked civilians in mosques and markets — from Iraq to Pakistan to Afghanistan — but who have been treated by mainstream Arab media, like Al Jazeera, or by extremist Islamist spiritual leaders and Web sites, as “martyrs” whose actions deserve praise.

Extolling or excusing suicide militants as “martyrs” has only led to this awful phenomenon — where young Muslim men and women are recruited to kill themselves and others — spreading wider and wider. What began in a targeted way in Lebanon and Israel has now proliferated to become an almost weekly occurrence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is a threat to any open society because when people turn themselves into bombs, they can’t be deterred, and the measures needed to interdict them require suspecting and searching everyone at any public event. And they are a particular threat to Muslim communities. You can’t build a healthy society on the back of suicide-bombers, whose sole objective is to wreak havoc by exclusively and indiscriminately killing as many civilians as possible.

If suicide-murder is deemed legitimate by a community when attacking its “enemies” abroad, it will eventually be used as a tactic against “enemies” at home, and that is exactly what has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” — the Muslim community itself — to say “no more.” When a culture and a faith community delegitimizes this kind of behavior, openly, loudly and consistently, it is more important than metal detectors or extra police. Religion and culture are the most important sources of restraint in a society.

That’s why India’s Muslims, who are the second-largest Muslim community in the world after Indonesia’s, and the one with the deepest democratic tradition, do a great service to Islam by delegitimizing suicide-murderers by refusing to bury their bodies. It won’t stop this trend overnight, but it can help over time.

“The Muslims of Bombay deserve to be congratulated in taking this important decision,” Raashid Alvi, a Muslim member of India’s Parliament from the Congress Party, said to me. “Islam says that if you commit suicide, then even after death you will be punished.”

The fact that Indian Muslims have stood up in this way is surely due, in part, to the fact that they live in, are the product of and feel empowered by a democratic and pluralistic society. They are not intimidated by extremist religious leaders and are not afraid to speak out against religious extremism in their midst.

It is why so few, if any, Indian Muslims are known to have joined Al Qaeda. And it is why, as outrageously expensive and as uncertain the outcome, trying to build decent, pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not as crazy as it seems. It takes a village, and without Arab-Muslim societies where the villagers feel ownership over their lives and empowered to take on their own extremists — militarily and ideologically — this trend will not go away.

 

 

READERS’ COMMENTS

 

No Way, No How, Not Here

The defiance of Islamist terrorists by Indian Muslims stands out against a dismal landscape of Sunni Muslim suicide murderers who have been treated by Arab media as “martyrs.”

Share your thoughts.

·                                 Editors’ Selections

·                                  

All Comments – Oldest First

 

 

:

                              Oldest First                                               Newest First                                               Readers’ Recommendations                                               Editors’ Selections                                               Replies                     

1.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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“The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” — the Muslim community itself — to say “no more.”

Totally agreed, but unfortunately we can’t even get the African-American community in the United States to take a similar stand against the internal issues plaguing their communities, and their problems are not even driven by ideology let alone religion. You have stated the solution, but unfortunately like most things it’s easier said than done.

— Katherine, Atlanta

 Recommend Recommended by 14 Readers

2.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Talking about Muslims and their nationality/freedom Mr. Friedman did you hear about the NY based Pakistani-American who beheaded his wife because he wasn’t too pleased she wanted to divorce him due to his domestic violence record. Talibanism right in our backyard. I hear the Pakistani Govt is busy signing peace treaties with the Talibani militants.

Amit, NJ

 Recommend Recommended by 41 Readers

3.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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I am skeptical.

The real reason why Indian muslims don’t want to bury the killers is because of the massive fear of retribution. They know it well – they have suffered time and again.

Indian muslims’ motives may not be as lofty as many make it sound to be in your conversations.

— Nat, Wilmington, DE

 Recommend Recommended by 52 Readers

4.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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And yet . . .

I visited India over December and January and spent much of my time with a Hindu family. And believe me – they wanted nothing to do with Muslims. Maybe they are only one family but from what I observed, the religious tension there is tough. There is a lot of mistrust.

— Kelly, An Observation, ND

 Recommend Recommended by 31 Readers

5.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Tragically, India’s relatively enlightened Muslim community counts for little throughout the Muslim world, which appears to be completely dominated by Hezbollah, Hamas, the Iranian clerics and many, many other religious extremists. Don’t hold your breath waiting for those groups to denounce terror.

— carl47, california

 Recommend Recommended by 34 Readers

6.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Are you kidding me? Indian Muslims are refusing to bury these murderers because they don’t want to be “branded” as terrorist sympathizers by the Hindu majority of India. As it is, Muslims in India live in fear of the Hindu fanatics who have killed thousands of Muslims in the name of religous hatred! I am disappointed at Mr. Friedman’s bias in this article; Indian Muslims are not a group to be cherished, for they are truly second class citizens in the Hindu controlled and dominated country of India. Just look at the facts of the massacre of Gujarat! Please Tom — I had expected better from you, this article just spewed partisan journalism which was more propaganda and white washing than anything! I know you are mesmerized by India and her Hindu inhabitants, but can you revert back to writing objectively please?

Shamsher, Washington DC

 Recommend Recommended by 92 Readers

7.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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I agree with everything you said and believe everything followed logically in your piece up until the second to last paragraph (about why democracy made it all happen).

Logically speaking I did not see any argument through out the piece that talked about how democracy allowed the Indian Muslims to be vocal in a way they perhaps could not under a benevolent religious leader/monarch. Muslims under monarchies have been vocal too. Not under Saddam (who was not a monarch but a dictator) but under other monarchs and political leaders. Take any Muslim country or any country for that matter. Why not take the U.S.? Muslims here have finally spoken out against the negativity and prejudices against them.

The fact that India is a democracy where this incredible step has been taken CANNOT be a justification for our attempt to GIVE democracy to the Iraqi people – the world’s oldest CIVILIZATION. Mind you that it was not the Indian Muslims but the Indian Muslim LEADERS who refused these burial rites on behalf of the people. The Indian Muslims agreed and followed. So this proves that religious leaders can make good choices when they are truly religious and good, not violent in the NAME of religion. THAT should have been the ending to your piece, not an out of a blue assertion about why democracy is good for Iraq in an article about Indian Muslims.

— A Muslim, NY, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 24 Readers

8.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Thanks for the pertinent article. This should teach not just the majority Muslims, who are peace loving, but also the majority Hindus, Christians, Jews to stop all killings either in the name of religion, hatred, politics, oil or a piece of land.
We should tirelessly endeavor for this purpose, drawing inspiration from the likes of MK Gandhi and ML King.

Bala, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 16 Readers

9.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Indian democracy imperfect as it is, offers Indian Muslims the freedom and the opportunity to live and improve their lives in a way no other Muslim state does.

For example Muslim women in India are free to wear/not wear the Hijab. There is no coercion from the Government either which way. You want to wear it, fine; don’t want to wear it, also fine.

Can any Muslim nation make such a claim?

— Pranav Kale, Mumbai, India

 Recommend Recommended by 76 Readers

10.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Mr. Friedman:

Consider the following possibilities:

a) It may not be aggod sign at all that Indian Muslims are not claiming the bodies. They maybe simply afraid given the history of violent attacks on them by radical hindu groups.

b) There are plenty of “Arab-Sunni” condemnations of terrorist attacks. You may be able to google it!

c) The empirically unfounded Arab-Sunni sympathy for terrorist networks is a myth. All you have to do is consider what is happening in three non-Arab states: Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

I think you need to change the subject.

Aron MaGraw, Washington, DC

 Recommend Recommended by 42 Readers

11.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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When you say it takes a village (i.e., the consensus of the community) to stop terrorists, you’re almost 100% right. You’re right until you try to use this argument to justify the democratization of Iraq by force of arms. Is that really what it takes to stop suicide bombers? Funny, they never gave Saddam any trouble, and he was not exactly your poster village liberal.

— donnolo, Monterey, CA

 Recommend Recommended by 18 Readers

12.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Goes to show how a pluralistic society tempers extremist thoughts.

Bob, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 14 Readers

13.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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I spent most of my childhood in Calcutta, from 2 to 11. I went to an non-religious kindergarten and then on to a Jesuit school, most of whose pupils were not Roman Catholic. My friends were Hindus, Parsees, Muslims,Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians of all kinds, but none of us were very aware of anyone’s religion except on religious holidays, when all of us participated in each other’s. What I was left with was a strong sense that whatever the ethnicity or religion, what was most remarkable was how similar everyone was, not how different. Over the years I have seen this reinforced time and again. Only ignorance of others can result in any other conclusion. While there are extremists in India, the culture has long had tolerance for all religions – or none at all. Seeing how similar West Bengal and Bangladesh actually are, I see more evidence that religion should never divide people.

— Richard, Weston, CT

 Recommend Recommended by 113 Readers

14.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Dear Sir,
Its good to see that the European and mainly US nations are with
India and they now recognizing the seriousness of Pakistan state owned Terrorism which is not Local as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned.
Now, we Indian does not want any Military help from these countries but Moral support and sincere efforts.
Now, we assume, what happening in J&K is not a Local Terrorism but its Global (we have seen BBC, CNN called it so called un-known elements, now they said Pakistan Militants).
But its very Sad to see in past that these countries did not recognize
Pakistan( Army/ ISI) initiated terrorism but at that time countries like Russia, France & Germany supported us.

Thanks a Lot for ur column.

— Amol, india

 Recommend Recommended by 16 Readers

15.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Before we happily celebrate the graveyard policies of certain Indian Muslims, I think we’d do well to remember the pressures (by the Hindu groups) they would face were they in fact to bury the terrorists’ bodies. I wish Mr. Friedman had told us whether there are _any_ other (e.g., theological) reasons prohibiting the burial of Muslim murderers, martyrs, suicides, or whatever you want to call these corpses. If not, there seems to be only a politically pragmatic decision in play.

If it is right per Koranic principles to bury a dead foreign enemy, and if it is social-political suicide for the Muslims to do this with the said corpses, then the Hindu groups could show some largesse and appoint a Muslim burial for them. This would reflect true community.

— MS, Delhi

 Recommend Recommended by 25 Readers

16.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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The Indian Muslims deserve loud and heartfelt applause for their stand. But let’s face it: Tom preaches only to the choir. His words, I suspect, do little good, and probably enrage a good many fence sitters in the Muslim world. To them, in light of the carnage in Iraq, for which Tom was and is an unrepentant and enthusiastic cheerleader, this article must seem incredibly obtuse and emblematic of our hypocrisy. It doesn’t take a Middle East scholar to imagine them asking how we have the gall to lecture them about the slaughter of innocents and the definition of “decent society.” Tom’s attempts to rationalize this tragic war render his entire argument ineffective — not to the choir, of course, but to the people he would most like to influence — and more’s the pity.

— Luke, Yonkers, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 31 Readers

17.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Being an Indian Muslim who has friends in many parts of the Muslim world, I can assure you that the preponderance of the Muslim population shares the opinions of its brethren from India. We do not enjoy violence nor do we condone it. We do seek justice and fairness.

On that note, I would ask your opinion, or those of your colleagues, on the rapid rise of Mr. Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu.

— ash, ca

 Recommend Recommended by 67 Readers

18.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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Thank you, Mr. Friedman, for this good but not well known news. Surely, this is a hint of how we must proceed in Iraq and Afghanistan, not so much with a military solution, as a peace solution in a few small areas at a time until the possibility of peace is accepted widely.

— C L Hess, BC

 Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers

19.

February 18, 2009 6:30 am

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The point becomes more clear in the final paragraph. Friedman is still trying to wash all the Iraqi blood from his hands.

— Howard K, Peoria

 Recommend Recommended by 99 Readers

20.

February 18, 2009 7:01 am

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Being a Muslim from India, I can testify that a vast majority of Indian Muslims are ordinary democratic citizens — only interested in getting on with their life and have no intention of engaging in violence of any form.
India provides a unique environment for muslims where the zealous mullahs are kept in check with the majority hindus (some of them equally or more zealous) and with strong democratic traditions in the country. In general, people have been conditioned to speak their mind and to dissent without threats to their lives.
In many muslim majority countries, a tiny minority has bullied the majority using Islam as an excuse to push for radical agendas. The silent majority doesn’t have strong institutions or democratic traditions to protect them from radical mullahs (who are actually power hungry political aspirants in disguise of Islamic leaders). Thus the silent majority’s voice is suppressed and ignored.
The only way to reduce the radical’s influence in middle east is 1) Democracy (Usually will take few decades to take root).
2) Benign and Visionary Dictatorship eventually leading to democracy (Quicker to implement, but Dictatorship is almost always corrupted) e.g. Mustafa Kemal.

Suhail Inquilab, New York

 Recommend Recommended by 46 Readers

21.

February 18, 2009 7:01 am

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I am an Indian born in a Muslim family. What I feel is many Muslims are so selfish to destroy the peace of other people in order to get heaven for themselves in the “next” world. They donate, they offer prayers, they fight and they love their families only for this purpose – to enter into heaven and lead a life with maids and eternal food forever.

There is a truth: Islam asks the followers to fight until the last human being convert to Islam. Islam also asks to cut the head of enemy wherever possible. As long as these things are in Islam there will be suicide bombers among Muslims. The Bombay Muslim leaders refused to burry the terrorist not because they love India, but because they are afraid of Indian authorities

Asain, India

 Recommend Recommended by 40 Readers

22.

February 18, 2009 7:01 am

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I am disappointed to read yet another shrill and misguided Thomas Friedman column.

Mr. Friedman, suicide bombing is desperate act of personal and political violence. Religion is but one of many scabards in which the hideous act is sheathed by architects of violence. Simply put, to associate suicide with any particular religion is ignorant. One need not even look beyond the South Asian region to understand this point — Indian patronage of the suicide-bombing Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka is an example of a government employing suicide bombing to further its political ends in the region. Surprise — no involvement of Muslims. Another surprise — ‘evil’ (Islamic) Pakistan is not to blame, but ‘good’ (Secular?) India. Beyond South Asia, suicide bombings have been used until fairly recently in Northern Ireland — yes, Protestants and Catholics too have used the hideous weapon of suicide bombing.

The unfortunate fact that Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan are plagued by suicide bombings is indeed a horrible shame. What would it take for Mr. Friedman to consider the American Government’s short-sighted and often venal policies, both official and covert, as a precipitating cause of unrest in these countries? Fact: Until seven years ago, when the US invaded Afghanistan, there were no suicide bombings in Pakistan.

Friedman’s championing of the Indian Muslim community that refused burial to the November Mumbai attackers is also off the mark. Islam teaches that burials ought to be speedy, simple, clean and humane. Providing a simple burial to the misguided terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November would be a significant act of mercy, beneficience and compassion on the part of Indian Muslims. Islam teaches these three principles, above all. Mr. Friedman argues that letting their bodies rot is an act of bravery on the part of the Indian Muslim community of India. Could it be that the muslims of India are in fact petrified that their status as a persecuted religious minority would be further endangered by committing such an act? That in India, a country whose government has time and again been complicit in pogroms against muslims, their act of mercy would be used against them?

I don’t think that Mr. Friedman is 100% wrong 100% of the time. In fact, he occasionally makes an interesting point. I do find, however, that he tends to reduce complex issues to vitriolic didacticisms and loses my respect and his own credibility along the way.

— OR, New York

 Recommend Recommended by 88 Readers

23.

February 18, 2009 7:01 am

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Don’t you think the boys should get a burial, if nothing else, for their mothers’ sake?

— Bharatesh, Bengaluru, India

 Recommend Recommended by 11 Readers

24.

February 18, 2009 7:01 am

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Mr. Friedman,

Thanks. It is importantly to differentiate and not club all muslims in one category and similarly, despite India‘s ills, it is important to highlight all its major pluses so it is neither a black or a white picture but a picture of true India with its myriad complexities all shown.

India and its population has suffered a lot over the ages from outside and from within but some problems that India has solved – creation of a true pluralistic society, democracy and freedom of speech, believing in your faith but accepting all, acceptance of all living beings right to live — are only beginning to even emerge as problems in other countries and the solution is truly far off. India of course has to learn many a things — taking care of all its inhabitants and treating everyon as equal being the most important on my list.

— SS, Central NJ

 Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers

25.

February 18, 2009 7:01 am

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Good article. I am proud of my Muslim bretheren for this bold and courageous step they have taken. Like the writer says- it may not stop the bombers immediately, but will have a long term effect.

— ram, pune

 Recommend Recommended by 21 Readers

 

 

26.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 7:04 am

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I grew up in Bhopal, India, a city with a large Muslim community and a history of Muslim Nawabs (Kings) and Begums (Queens). Although I’m technically Hindu, Muslims, or Christians for that matter, were never considered the “others”, and I went to a Jesuit school staffed by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, and with an equally diverse student body.

India‘s communal harmony has certainly been marred by religious riots, most significantly in the terrible aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 that carved out Pakistan. But over the centuries, India has withstood and assimilated conquerors from Central Asia (the Moghuls), Persia, Afghanistan and, of course, the British and the French.

India‘s built a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society over millennia, well before it was a unified political entity. The many Muslim dynasties who conquered India were often devout, but driven far more by the profit motive, and saw no point in sowing divisions in a society that would make them richer if it thrived by being united. India‘s Muslims today are, by and large, less well off than the average, but they have economic opportunity, mostly unfettered access to the ballot box, and the right to free speech. Why strap on an explosive vest and blow up a mall when with a little bit of effort you can make enough money to go shop in it?

Only in Kashmir has India fallen devastatingly short of its ideals. After decades of peace and prosperity, ham-handed attempts by the Federal Government to rig elections and muzzle the press backfired and resulted in a two decade old insurgency, actively aided by Pakistan. Even now,a more enlightened policy in Kashmir is likely to bring it back into the fold of a secular India, proving once again that when there really is a choice between guns and butter, butter wins every time.

— Vineet Buch, Silicon Valley, CA

 Recommend Recommended by 135 Readers

27.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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Great article. Inspite of all its short-comings and religious violence, India is by far the best model of such pluralistic societies. While this goes to the vision of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, rest of the country is slowly coming around to that approach. While Indians are also working towards trying to perfect this union, the biggest threat seems to be coming from Pakistan. It is ofcourse ironical, that people of Pakistan are no different from their brothers and sisters in India, their state and circumstances have guided them through a totally different path.

God give them strength to find a way out of the hole that they are in.

— SandS, TX

 Recommend Recommended by 9 Readers

28.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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Dear Mr. Tom,

It’s with great eagerness that I always follow your informative and edifying articles, but this one has blown me away.

Nine bodies have been lying in a mortgage for almost 3 months, not because they do not have families to take them in and bury them, but because they had killed more than 170 people and tried to simply leave, before hell landed on them. This is mind-blowing?!!

Most of the Muslim societies in today’s world have been placed between a rock and a hard place. From a side, they are facing their mostly illegitimate, corrupt and undemocratic countries. From another, they are confronting a frustrated, angry world who think that they are the masterminds of every terrorism act or violence. However, this does not give any Muslim person the authority to kill or slaughter the mother living next door with her child simply because she is from another religion or from a country which supports these fraudulent regimes. Not in any circumstance can we do that: no way, no how, not anywhere in the world.

Which brings me to my point on India.

As the second largest Muslim community in the world as you have mentioned, Indian Muslims are expected to do much to uphold the tarnished image of Islam. Islam is not a religion of killing innocent men, women and children (and I believe all the religions enforce this belief), and cutting the throats of journalists and diplomats. It is a religion of peace – as the word Islam comes from the word Salam in Arabic, which means peace.

And yes as Mr. Freidman pointed out, the Koran verse that compares “killing of an innocent… to slaying the whole community” can be read in The Table Chapter, Verse no: 32.

Finally, I think in the due course of the coming weeks and days, somebody will have to bury these bodies. However, what was more important was the symbolism that which the Indian Muslims have displayed to the world: that we can live peacefully and serenely, no matter our racial or religious differences. So, I am of the view that we bury them, not in order to give them the last respect but, to warn the future bombers that no one will be responsible for their bodies: they will be thrown for the dogs.

It may be a cliché to say that it takes a village to change societies, but nevertheless, who knows, it may take the Indian Muslims to restore the Muslim image that has gone down the drains.

S.A.D. Nairobi – Kenya.

— S. A. D., Nairobi, Kenya.

 Recommend Recommended by 13 Readers

29.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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Everything in this Op-Ed is true but in which Muslim country (with the possible exception of Iraq) has a clear majority not only distanced itself from the “martyrs” but also unequivocally denounced them? My personal guess is that tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands more will die before the tide (of Muslim opinion) turns. And this only assumes that the “martyrs” will be seen as failing in their political goals. If they are seen as getting “results” the tide may never turn and this episode would be one of many false starts (or temporary setback in the “martyrs” view).

— IPI, SLC

 Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader

30.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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Indian Hindus and Muslims (not to mention Christians and Sikhs) have learned to co-exist peacefully, despite Muslim cruelty towards Hindus/Sikhs during their rule. I credit this to the civilizing influence of Hinduism, and the resulting tolerance for other’s beliefs. Sufi saints are revered by Muslims and Hindus alike, and I hope their loving, peaceful interpretation of Islam replaces the harsh Wahabi version everywhere. Forward thinking Muslims from India are already changing the way Islam is practised, and India is becoming a beacon for moderate Islam.

American Muslims need to learn a lesson from their Indian cousins and speak up more often than they do today. Here the mosques appear to be hijacked by dour Saudi imams, and the children totally brainwashed. The teachings of Sufi saints are never mentioned. Very sad and discouraging. Why can’t the Muslim reformation start here?

— Jyothi Raman, Houston, TX

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31.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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Point taken. But one cannot help but feel, after 8 years of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, any measure you take to change things as a world citizen is acceptable. Honestly, I would rather die than live in a world like this. I believe every ‘suicide bomber’ that brought us Obama did not die in vain. Let us see if he will get that.

— alan, Tanzania

 Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader

32.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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I think it is unfair to say that the Muslim world at large does not condemn suicide bombers. It is the small but extreme few who claim these bombers are ‘martyrs’

— Student, Chicago, IL

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33.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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The reason why Indian Muslims are “different” from Arab or Central Asian Muslims is because these Muslims were coverts from Hinduism (as are Indonesian and Malay Muslims) and have retained their pre-Islamic sensibilities, mainly a higher level of tolerance and absence of a tribal cum feudal past precluding violence as the first option, that is the hallmark of majority of the world’s Muslims. India‘s democracy has given Muslims equal space to retain their Islamic identity and assimilate into the national mainstream at their own pace. That Hindus are tolerant and peaceable by nature helped this slow assimilation and with Muslims climbing up the economic ladder, their stake in the stability of India grew exponentially. The is a sizable and growing Muslim middle class whose size exceeds that of the middle class in Pakistan. 62 years after partition, the present generation of Indian Muslims have no sentimental hangover about how Pakistan was formed and identifies itself solely as Indians first and last.

Pakistan keeps trying to brainwash Indian Muslims by generating among them a fear of Hindu “domination”. It does succeed in getting a few educated but fanatical Indian Muslims to help the nefarious Pakistani intelligence outfit, the ISI to conduct terror attacks within India. There is no doubt, the Mumbai attacks on 26/11 conducted by Pakistan had some fanatical Indian Muslims providing logistical and intelligence support. Indian Muslims are increasingly aware of the threat such fanatics from their own community pose to their security and economic prosperity and are willing to expose them to police and the Indian army. This is the positive aspect of Indian democracy in slowly succeeding to get Muslims to accept the idea of India as a secular, tolerant, democratic state where the principle of live and let live drives day to day life.

— Espi, Williamsville, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 31 Readers

34.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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Even if it comes in the wake of the horrific slaughter in Mumbai, this is good news.

The most depressing thing about the events of the last few years is the failure of Muslim leaders to roundly and loudly condemn the crimes that have been carried out in the name of Islam. This just gives aid and comfort to the psychopaths of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

It also provides ammunition to the demagogues in the west who rant on about ‘Islamofacism’ (yes Rudi, I’m talking about you) even though they should know better .

I hope this is the start of a trend…

— Bob, Munich, Germany

 Recommend Recommended by 8 Readers

35.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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The final paragraph ends a good article with yet another apology for the Iraq War. Friedman can’t admit making a mistake in supporting this fiasco.

— TMJ, Chicago, IL

 Recommend Recommended by 20 Readers

36.

February 18, 2009 7:11 am

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I agree that murderers of innocents are not truly of the religion they may claim. Thats why Bush, Cheney and the rest of the criminals that perpetrated the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and others, are not true Christians in my eyes. Nor are the murderous Israeli government and its supporters true Hebrews or Jews. They use religion to enrich themselves and carryout their sinister objectives. So, I’d love to see the U.S. and Israeli people take a similar stand against the murderers that infest their societies. You too Friedman. Else, you are just hypocrites.

— Truthserum007, Newark, NJ

 Recommend Recommended by 15 Readers

37.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 7:52 am

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Dear Mr. Friedman:
It is always good and important to give attention in your column to these kinds of stories, these kinds of trends.
I continue to wonder and puzzle at the Muslim world — it appears that in some places it is openly hostile to others, even other kinds of Muslims. In other places it exists with the same kind of genuine respect for the polity that we take for granted (almost) here in the
U.S.
I believe we need to truly understand the dynamics that propel one kind of Muslim down a path of hate and “martyrdom”, and another down a path of peace and respect.
Even many years after 9/11, the average American is confused and hazy on the reality, the mythology, and the cause of Islamic terrorism (and its cure). How well we will be served when we can finally come to grips with the dynamics and forces shaping this cultural and religious riddle.

— TBS, New York, N.Y.

 Recommend Recommended by 27 Readers

38.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 7:56 am

Link

Dear Mr. Friedman,

Whenever I see you taking on the Muslim world in your columns I cringe. I think that you greatly oversimplify the issues and take on an unnecessarily patronizing tone. Muslim people aren’t the only ones to use bombing (suicide or otherwise) as a tool of war. Bombing is used by groups around the world, such as ETA in Spain or the drug traffickers of Latin America, and I can assure you that the absolute majority of people in these countries do not show approval for these acts of violence. Yet, contrary to your hypothesis, the vast public disapproval does not persuade these groups to follow a path of peace.

You are making it sound like Muslim people in general are apt to put on a suicide bomb and just blow themselves up, and that they are so naive to be pushed one way or another by the public opinion. How can you forget that the US has a great deal of responsibility for the precarious situations in Iraq and Afghanistan? These countries have been ravaged by war and their people have lost hope. I don’t think that you or I can even begin to imagine the suffering and desperation that they feel. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are in the midst of civil wars. I think that if we look at the history of any country that has suffered a civil war, our own included, we will see all of the pointless violence and killing that occurred, whether by guns, bombs or swords. Why do you look at these civil wars as a Muslim problem? They are a human problem.

I really wish you would stick to your columns about technology and education.

— LM, Spain

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39.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Finally, a stand is taken — albeit by a brave few — but it’s a start nonetheless. Thank you for telling us about it, and for calling a spade by its true name.

— Steve B., Modesto, CA

 Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers

40.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Mr. Friedman, while no person of good will and sound mind would disagree with your thoughts in this piece, near the end you write:

“And it is why, as outrageously expensive and
as uncertain the outcome, trying to build decent,
pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not
as crazy as it seems.”

Isn’t it time you stopped beating that horse? Regardless of the future outcome in Iraq the people who have disagreed with your opinion on the war, since its inception, are not going to change their minds over a few self-serving words.

— David, San Diego

 Recommend Recommended by 8 Readers

41.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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As I have been going back and forth to India for the past ten years for language training and research, the findings in Mr. Friedman’s article are not particularly shocking. In a sense, terrorists are terrorists, regardless of whether the group in question has takes a particular religious concept such as ‘jihad’ and redefines it for the purposes of political utility among terrorist groups claiming to be fighting in the name of ‘Islam’. How sad that ‘jihad’ has shifted from its usage as a ‘war against one’s own weaknesses, as a spiritual quest’ to some catch-all phrase for all things evil about the world-wide Muslim community.

India–in particular–is an extraordinary example of how a dynamic, negotiated notion of secularism and electoral democracy continues to evolve, more often than not in positive directions. If you wish to look for ‘terrorism’, the choices typically revolve around the non-indigenous (or Pakistani) organizations (both state and non-state sanctioned) contesting the always contestable Kashmir issue—a travesty when most Kashmiris want nothing to do with either India or Pakistan for the most part. On the other hand, fundamentalist organizations indigenous to India–the most popular, well-organized of which are most often associated with more virulent interpretations of Hindutva–or the cultural principle of conservative Hindu Right organizations. There are some Indian Muslim organizations (such as SIMI) which have been riddled with fundamentalist strains, of course. Yet fundamentalism and justifications for oppression, killings, etc., do not have a ‘religion’ per se, but are rather religious sentiments that are politicized and referred to ‘communalism’ in the Indian context.

Yet as vast numbers of Indian Muslims continue to form a united front against the ‘un-Islamic’ terrorists responsible for the recent attacks, stripping them of the right to use the Qu’ran to justify such vulgar violence in the name of Islam, it will likely lead Indians of Hindu cultural backgrounds to feel less threatened by Indian Muslims in general, and hopefully lead to less support for radical extremism the Hindu Right (which needs the Muslim and Christian communities to be framed as immediate ‘threats’ to India’s theoretically elemental ‘Hindu’ identity).

Ultimately, even amid the devastation these attacks have caused, the outcry has been universal. India has faced so much by way of ethno-religious divisions, linguistic differences, gender inequality, highly-divided to the cultural hilt. Let this tragedy and the outcry among Indian Muslims and Indians in general serve as a guiding principle in the days and years to come–terror and human cruelty have the same face, regardless of one’s cultural or religious heritage. This also is true–most especially so–of the face of human compassion and sacrifice.

In the grand scheme of things, 10 years of living 3-6 month stretches in various parts of India is a drop in the ocean. But even though I may lack a true appreciation of the overarching history of the Subcontinent with only one decade under my belt, there very inspiring reasons I return–the most critical one being the strength and passion for justice and innovation that resonates among elites and non-elites alike.

On a last–and optimistic–note, the US and India have a great deal to gain from our increasingly open lines of foreign policy initiatives (and, no, I’m not just speaking of nukes. Please.). As far as I have observed, there are two themes that will facilitate better relations, and they are not related simply to the US and India being democracies (both flawed incarnations, but that’s another matter). The two vital characteristics that unite us are, first, a creative, innovative spirit (interpret this as you will); the second–and perhaps more crucial–is the ‘good sense of humor’ that pervades each of our diverse societies. A shared primacy of humor in societies (in print media, cartoon industries, popular witticisms, movies, everyday conversations)–I believe–is a highly underrated medium through which alliances might be forged. Yes, there are always guns, nukes, democracy, and ideologies–but don’t discount humor. No, I have not done a large-N study, nor do I know how such a study might be quantified. On this last point, I suppose one has to take humor on faith—even as we continue to keep our sights on positive, optimistic insights highlighted by Mr. Friedman.

— Azadi, Philadelphia, PA

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42.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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“…the Koran says that the killing of an innocent is akin to slaying the whole community.”

This chestnut is similar to our expression “a stitch in time saves nine.”

It means essentially nothing, and the killing continues.

— Tom Moran, Cairo, Egypt

 Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers

43.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Just to show that not all muslims are terrorists; only a few bad apples.

— mos, Alameda, CA

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44.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Iraq was such a place before we invaded and drove otherwise moderate Sunnis into the arms of the Muhajaddin.

— Roger, Norway

 Recommend Recommended by 7 Readers

45.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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While this is an encouraging sign, I’m not sure you can so easily extend it to support the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. Wanting a more pluralistic society is one thing, but attempting to install one by force and fiat is quite another.

— Ron, Pittsburgh

 Recommend Recommended by 9 Readers

46.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

Link

Mr. Friedman, should you not be focusing on the imploding American economy and the 401Ks, not to mention the jobs and lives? Ever wondered who unleashed the housing bubble which ate up our economy? Was it not your friend and fellow neocon Alan Greenspan who in 2003 lowered the fed funds rate to a then record low of 1% in a RISING economy and held it there for a whole year? Why don’t you ask him why he dropped this economic WMD on us? Could it be it was to help finance a certain very expensive war started the same year which I recall you vociferously championed?
I’m sure
India can look after itself without your help.

— qualquan, Illinois

 Recommend Recommended by 13 Readers

47.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

Link

The courage of Mumbai muslims is exemplary and pluralistic society may have contributed to their defiance. Other factors such as fear of backlash may also have played a part in disowning the bodies who were in my opinion indeed Fasaadis. What also builds such courage is restraint and deep introspection (‘jihad’ if I may call it in Islamic terminology) of Mumbai muslims in the face of adversity from which the whole world should learn from.

Attacking a country unprovoked and killing hundreds of innocent citizens and putting many more into misery worse than death, however, cannot be justified as an attempt to promote a pluralistic society. In my opinion the war and ensuing struggle in Iraq is more akin to Fasaad. And if we, even for a moment, condone the process of building a better society initiated with Fasaad then we should also reconsider how we are different from those who misled the disowned youth in Mumbai.

Desmon, Pakistan

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48.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Even more important than the point made in this article would have been to contrast how India treats its minorities (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians) vs. how Pakistan treats its (Hindus, Sikhs). The chief of Mumbai police now (and during the 08 terrorist attacks) is Hasan Ghafoor, a Muslim. Other Indian Muslims have been presidents, academics, film stars, sports stars, literary figures. Undoubtedly, there is much unequal treatment of Muslims in India, and even serious and sometimes violent discrimination, but Muslim success stories are not just tokenism.

In 1947, when the British left and modern day India and Pakistan were formed, Hindus were about 15% of the population in Pakistan. Today they are less than 2%.
Mulsims in
India are around 13% today, and this number is steady or slowly rising.
(Source: Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_demographics).

It would be nice to have some serious and comprehensive reporting by the NYT on this point.

— AG, Wilmette

 Recommend Recommended by 30 Readers

49.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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I absolutely agree that until good Muslims shun suicide-bombers the martyr problem will continue. Why shouldn’t we, the rest of the world, the larger “village”, not shun the whole Muslim community until they’ve cleaned up their house? I say that with purely pragmatic interest (I’m an atheist and have no religious bone to pick). The best way, in my opinion, to delegitimize suicide-bombers is to send a unified message to the people that can best stop the action. Of course, the devil’s in the details, and how this would be done is an open question, and but I throw the idea out there for thought.

Skogie, NY, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers

50.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Finally some Muslims have the heart and courage to publicly take a position of outrage. I suggest the western press stop using the term “jihadists” and start referring to such terrorists as “fasadis” as the more proper Koranic term. Perhaps Muslims elsewhere will begin to get the idea that there is a difference and no “reward” in the afterlife for murderers.

Ex-pat, Morocco

 Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers

 

51.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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For thousands of years the unchanged message of India’s civilization has been that one should do good as it is one’s acts of goodness that will ultimately be rewarded (The Law of “Dharma” or Righteousness) – irrespective of to whom on prays or of which faith one professes. This message of oneness and tolerance has enabled the largely peaceful co-existence of almost all the world’s major religions in India.
The action of India’s Muslim community – of placing human values far above religious affiliation – is a message that needs to be heeded around the world, i.e. not just by the fanatical elements amongst Muslims but also by the ever increasing number of Christians, Jews, Hindus and other religions’ followers who are keen to hold the followers of other faiths worthy only of their hatred and violence.

— Bhartendu Sinha, Bangalore

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52.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Well, Indian Muslims have not been bombed by the American air force.

How would you react if your family was killed by American bombs. How would you respond if your child died because it was denied the proper medication? In Iraq hundreds of thousands of children died because Clinton, Blair and Bush did not allow the delivery of this medication to Iraq.

The situation in Gaza is very similar.

There is no justification for murder. But there is ALWAYS A REASON for it.

— joseph parmetler, austria

 Recommend Recommended by 9 Readers

53.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Mr. Friedman:

You say “And it is why, as outrageously expensive and as uncertain the outcome, trying to build decent, pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not as crazy as it seems.”

Question: Where will the money come from?

— LVL, Maryland

 Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers

54.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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While the general thrust of Friedman’s points about Indian Muslims being quite nuanced in their identities and quite patriotic as well, and certainly so by standards for an ill-treated minority anywhere in the world, are generally correct, I take exception with some of his views. Most importantly, to just share one disagreement, is that his description of Al-Jazeera’s coverage of civilian-killing suicide bombing operations as adulatory is simply 100% untrue. I say it politely but it is a serious indictment of Mr. Friedman’s myopia, because indeed, if you turn on Al Jazeera English you’ll get what I personally think is by far the most intelligent, globally-comprehensive, detailed, historical, scientific and multi-angled news coverage. You can watch Al Jazeera for free on line also, and believe me, they make the BBC look amateur, let alone our pathetic ‘news’ in the US from channels like CNN, MSNBC and FOX, who are all incapable of understanding the ‘news’ let alone report it.

Seriously, give them a try. Their news is so bloody sharp and smart that you’ll be hooked if you are starved for real international news and you live in America. They are so even handed that I have seen more Israeli voices on their channel than on US news during the Gaza operation (which I opposed). Any dose of the reality of Al Jazeera’s news will stand as a testament to the unfair, anti-intellectual, ooga-booga nature of Mr. Friedman’s dismissal of them in this otherwise ok editorial, for him.

Jovian Radheshwar
UCSB Political Science PhD Student

— Jovian Radheshwar, Santa Barbara CA

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55.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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The only effective way of preventing suicide bombing in Palestine is for the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self determination, statehood.

— John S. Hancock, Concord, N.H.

 Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers

56.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Your Op-Ed piece was refreshing to read, i.e. the point not the plot. Of course, extremists can always claim that no one is innocent — you’re either with us or against us. It is refreshing to see the Muslims of India rejecting that notion.

Also: thanks for the information. I had no idea there were so many Muslims in India. I assumed the creation of Pakistan was intended to separate the two religions. Although it may not be perfect, the fact that India survives — thrives — while at the same time containing two fractious religious groups, should give hope to the peoples of the Middle East.

NBA, NY, NY

 Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers

57.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Thanks for bringing this article out.

Indian muslims still have to come out of their shell. Just few years ago the infamous practice of saying “talaq” three times to divorce one’s wife was abolished.

Not long ago we heard indian muslim clerics decrying Sania mirza, ATP tour tennis player that she was de-filing islam through wearing skimpy skirts.

indian muslims leader is Khan abdul gaffar khan popularly known as frontier gandhi who believed in peaceful secular india to pakistan during partition.

surely democratic ideals will win over the narrow minded extremists views.

— Karthik, San Jose, CA

 Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader

58.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Correct. Terrorism threatens all ethnic, racial, religious, and national groups, including its own. The key is to recognize that it may look like Muslim-vs-Hindu, or Arab-vs-Jew, or whatever, but the real war is always the same — fanaticism vs rationality. And the only way to win is for the rational people within each group to muzzle and marginalize the fanatics among themselves.

— Steve, Philadelphia

 Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers

59.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Has anyone else noticed that Friedman + energy, environment, or innovation = awesome; Friedman + Israel, Iraq, or religion = awful. Are there two different writers using the name Thomas Friedman?

— BC, Kiev, Ukraine

 Recommend Recommended by 10 Readers

60.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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Thank you for an excellet and much needed article. It is good to finally see the “good Muslims” as the topic.

— josef nix, Atlanta

 Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers

61.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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So, Mr. Friedman has finally come a full circle. He was for the Iraq war before and when it began. Then as the criticisms increased and the war was not going well, he started chewing Bush out… and that spilled into his energy articles also… Now that the war is producing tangible results, he now believes maybe, just maybe the intent of President Bush was right after all… ie., to bring democracy into the Middle East and move away from the policy of supporting dictators for short term interests. I could only imagine what more could have been accomplished if public opinion shapers such as Mr.Friedman has stood up against the unfair/short sighted/jingoistic arguments made against the war…

— ame, HSV

 Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers

62.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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Well, thank God (or Allah) *someone* finally saw through these fools and called them out for what they truly are: extortionists, control freaks, and murderers. In tandem with your column, there was a report last night on NPR about a New York businessman who’s started receiving calls from members of the Taliban, telling him he’d better cough up some cash if he wants to see his family back in Pakistan stay in one piece. Amazing how people who consider themselves “religiously pure” can act like thugs when the mood suits them to do so.

— Sean Martin, Mebane, NC

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63.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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During Wold War I in Gelibolu-Canakkale, as Westerners name it Gallipoli-Dardanella,the Turkish army was in defence against the Allies.The fight has turned to a trench warfare.One side was the Turkish Army defending the motherland,on the other side was the allies.French,English and the soldiers from as far as New Zealand and Australia.One day Turkish soldier went to nearby stream to get fresh water and he saw a soldier from the allies and he was from New Zealand.Turkish soldier did have his rifle with him but he did not fire to kill his enemy.Because we have a saying in Turkish.”Do not even touch a snake while drinking water”

This article is of Mr.Friedman reminded me that event happened 80 years ago.I believe every nation has the right to defend itself against their enemies.But it should be made in the battlefield.The brave nations do it in the battlefield.They do not wrap the bomb around thier bodies and blow a busy market or any other public spaces.That kind of action does not have any kind of explanation in any of the monotheist religions and in their holly books.The suicide bombing is being coward.No clergy could explain it from a verse of Koran.Koran says ”Killing one innocent being means killing the whole civilisation”

— Hamit, Istanbul

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64.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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You make an insightful point…it will take a village to fight/transform terrorism-minded individuals. I have heard of mothers submitting their sons to suicide bombing because they are driven despondent by the events of their life time. There is no better provision of legitimacy than a mother’s approval to participate in terrorism. Deep down, this is a consequence of decades of suffering in these families due to a multitude of reasons and therefore, not easy to fix in the short term. Realization as a community, of the sad consequences of mindless terrorism and show of disapproval is an excellent aspect to applaud – as you have rightly done in this article. Thanks.

— Bala, Maplewood, NJ

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65.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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Was it not the extreme act of Al Qaeda that turned an American presidency from conservative to extremist – a presidency that practiced torture and kidnapping and defended them as justifiable, that chose war over sanctions in Iraq, threat over diplomacy around the world?

And was it not this extreme American administration and its allies who called those who questioned its acts traitors, and called those who opposed the war haters of the American “warriors” in the Armed Forces?

And was it not this extreme American administration which used its popularity following this attack against us as a lever to push its social agenda, trying to change the social contract while pouring wealth upon its friends and taking from the rest?

Thankfully, we still have the Bill of Rights and some had the courage to consistently say aloud that what America was doing was wrong. But were not many – from Valerie Plame to the thousands of men and women in our Armed Forces – hurt so the previous administration could continue their policies?

For them, we should have all spoken up.

Bob Benish

— kcbob, Kansas City, MO

 Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers

66.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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A great piece of analysis!

— Stephen, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

 Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader

67.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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Mr. Friedman: I’ve no doubt that the attitude of the Muslim community in Mumbai in sincere in their reasoning not to bury the nine dead terrorists; maybe that community should take a cue from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” where Larry David’s mother was put in a section for those with tattoos. However, in your final paragraph, you juxtapose that by saying that “trying to build decent, pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not as crazy as it seems.” You continue to find reasons why our unnecessary invasion of that country was the right thing to do; your logic fails, utterly.

Alan, New York

 Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers

68.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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“You can’t build a healthy society on the back of suicide-bombers, whose sole objective is to wreak havoc by exclusively and indiscriminately killing as many civilians as possible.”

Agreed. But you also can’t build a healthy society by confining a community inside a concentration camp and treating them as less than humans. You cannot build a healthy society by unilaterally invading a country on a tissue of lies (an invasion that Mr. Friedman supported). Who am I to say how people should or should not behave when subjected to such indignities?

This has nothing to do with Muslims or Islam. Would Americans have been as ready to adopt Dr. King’s position if blacks had not rioted in the cities and if far worse alternatives had not threatened society?

Mr. Friedman has not lived as a black or as resident of Gaza. He is right if one is speaking of a scenario where people have equal rights or where terrorism is being used as an instrument of state policy (be it Pakistan or the US). He has not been able to step into the world of marginalized and humiliated human beings for whom living has been made worse than death.

Anjum, Washington, DC

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69.

February 18, 2009 10:02 am

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The decision by the religious leader was mainly taken because the Pakistani terrorists had killed not 33, but an estimated 40 Muslims in their carnage. There is no such violent pressure form the Hindu radical side to the religious clerics, but an act to accept those bodies will affect the relations of many Muslims co-existing with many non-Muslims, further hurting trust.

In addition, the line from Quran MJ Akbar is talking has not been comprehended by him it seems. The verse said by him is quran verse no. 5:32. Please Google for this and you will know that this verse does not call Israelis as innocents, and the definition of ‘innocent’ is debatable. In a way, the 33 ‘innocent’ were dead in the attack and not 179.

Very true, “the village” has to openly talk against such miscreants, murderers and not term them as “martyrs”. It will be best if we find a large number of Ex-Muslims in the world. It is the duty of “Muslims” to start having a voice against those very elements and beliefs they hold that give encouragement to violence, terrorism and intolerance.

Amin Khan, India

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70.

February 18, 2009 10:04 am

Link

I read Al Jazeera English regularly. I am not aware of that media organization praising suicide terrorism as an act of martyrdom. They have had reports about those who do – just as our media do. It would seem that Mr. Friedman is conveniently disregarding the fact that we honor our war dead as heroes for having made the ultimate sacrifice even when their acts include collateral damage with the deaths of innocents. I believe his perspective serves the purposes of his continued propaganda against Arab and Muslim culture.

— Dan, Mobile, AL

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71.

February 18, 2009 10:05 am

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Perhaps the Obama administration can begin using the terms “Fasad” and “Fasadis” in place of “Jihad.” It’s a message that has been missing from America‘s own presentation of terrorist action.

Douglas, Minneapolis

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72.

February 18, 2009 10:06 am

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1. To call 26/11 India‘s 9/11 is not only incorrect but elitist. Do the bombs that killed 200 in 2006 (in Mumbai) count for less?

2. Whereas it is true that Indian Muslims enjoy more freedom and are possibly happier than their Iraqi and Afghan counter-parts – I think it has nothing to do with Indian democracy. It is essentially because India is not a war zone. Do you think that the non-taliban parts of Pakistan are any worse off than India?

If the world wants to see a functional Iraq and Afghanistan

a. America must pack its bags and get out of those places. Forcing an artificial agenda of “democracy” will just kill a million more.
b.
America must stop coddling Israel with atomic bombs and the like – (therefore forcing Iran to develop the same). Hamas, Hezbollah (and even the Al-Qaeda) are all reactionary – and probably would not have been formed in the first place if the west was sensitive to the injustices that the people were facing.

— Akhilesh, College Station, Texas, USA

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73.

February 18, 2009 10:07 am

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Great column, Tom, till the last paragraph where you use enlightened Indian Muslims in your endless quest to try to sneak in yet another lame “justification” for your support for the war on Iraqis.

Give it up! Maybe instead of making excuses for your bellicosity, you should start an American Truth & Reconciliation Program where you are the first to stand up & shout out the truth — you were a superduper dupe of the Administration.

As I said, great column.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

— marie burns, fort myers, fl

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74.

February 18, 2009 10:07 am

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I was born and raised in America, but I am also a Hindu whose parents are from India. When I visited India for the first time as an adult (a few years after 911) I didn’t know what to expect regarding the Muslim/Hindu relations in India. I was pretty amazed by what I saw. In the village where my family lives Muslims and Hindu’s live and work side by side. Hindu’s shop at Muslim Stores and vice versa. Although the village is predominately Hindu, every morning you can hear the prayers coming from the loudspeakers of the several Muslim Mosques that are in the village. These are intermingled with the sounds of Hindu morning prayers. Nobody seemed to care what religion their neighbors practiced. Granted, this was only one village in India – I certainly can’t say what the rest of the country is like, but it was a real eye opening experience.

— Raj, NC

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75.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 10:08 am

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I am an indian hindu, and i say this with a measure of pride that our muslim bretherens are beautiful people. simple at heart, patriots and intensely gifted. They have enormously contributed to indian culture, arts, cinema and sports.

We have had several differences, and we also have bigoted people in both communities who try to spread hatred and violence, but our community is essentially self healing and always manages to repair itself.

Our secular ethos and the decision by our founders of having this country as a secular one rather than one which is a religious one has led to this happy position.

Today while almost all the countries that became independence along with us are floundering ( pakistan being the most unhappy example ). our country is slowly but steadily rising as a benign power.

We do have problems, we still have poverty, but we believe in our values. and all of us indians, hindu, muslim, sikh and christians are marching forward regardless.

— Dr. Pawan Sharma, New Delhi

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101.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 10:40 am

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The courageous stand taken by Mumbai’s Muslim community is indeed a good sign and one can hope that Muslims throughout the world are listening. And it also true that Muslim terrorists have killed many more Muslims than they did members of other religions. That includes even the victims of 9/11. But I don’t believe Al Jazeera has been cheering for suicide bombers, even though the station has given airtime to extremists.

— R.H. Schumann, Bonn, Germany

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102.

February 18, 2009 10:40 am

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I find it unusual that after nearly three months since the Mumbai attacks, unburied bodies are the only significant act of Muslim defiance to terrorism Mr. Friedman highlights for his readers. Is it possible that this is the ONLY act of Muslim defiance of note? Maybe that sad reality would have been a more relevant focus for the column.

— Pete Mitchell, Tampa

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103.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 11:19 am

Link

I agree with much of the article. Despite the desperate attempts of Hindu chauvinist party and their pet groups, the Indian Muslims have repeatedly asserted their patriotism and opposition to terrorism. Terrorist acts by certain certain islamic groups (outside Kashmir, whose origins are more complex) were witnessed after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat genocide by Hindu fundamentalist mobs, with the connivance of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr.Narender Modi and his ilk.

But the democratic processes, including untiring efforts of certain brave independent human rights organisations and the independent judiciary have ensured that the perpetrators of these heinous acts are being brought to book (even if very slowly, and sometimes reluctantly – witness the recent arrests of the Special Investigation team in Gujarat – have offered hope of justice to victims of these carnages which are terrorist acts themselves, but not formally so designated. So democracy is the best bulwark against terrorism, not war,undemocratic laws and practices.

I am surprised at the author’s reference to Iraq. There was no terrorism in Iraq before Bush’s war. Iraq was a pluralistic society, despite its polity being presided over by a brutal dictator. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan have destroyed civil society and democratic groups and processes, and that cesspool breeds terrorism, now spreading till 80 km of the capital of Pakistan. Puppet regimes protected by presence of foreign military can hardly meet the challeges of terrorism.

— P.V.S.Giridhar, Chennai, India

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104.

February 18, 2009 11:19 am

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Yes it’s expensive Tom but not so expensive when you and your family aren’t the ones paying the price. Upper middle class suburbanites rarely pay the price.I was drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1967 and for me and my family it was indeed very expensive. There are thousands dead and tens of thousands hurting because of the Irag war but you can sit back and declare it expensive but somehow worth it. You haven’t paid the price Tom, it’s time to get off your soapbox and face reality.

— tommy b, Boston

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105.

February 18, 2009 11:19 am

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Okay I’ll admit that I’m a liberal in Louisiana (one of three in the state I think) but I’m a little confused by the last paragraph here. Tom, are you now saying that the invasion in Iraq & all the “Bring Freedom to the Middle East” nation building of Bush was actually a GOOD IDEA?

I’m confused.

— Keith Abramowski, Slidell, LA

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106.

February 18, 2009 11:20 am

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Great editorial! Only when millions of others speak up and educate their brothers and sisters that killing humans, including themselves, destroys life and hope, and does not provide salvation or virgins in heaven. It seems beliefs, without facts, are the cause of many problems and thus no one should follow hurtful dogma. By definition, relegion is not based on truth so lets stop hurting others due to false information.

— George, Bedford, nh

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107.

February 18, 2009 11:20 am

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It is very sad to me, an agnostic who recognizes the value of religion, to witness the evil that religious zeal can let loose on the world–evil perpetrated by Muslims, Christians, you name the religion. Perhaps this refusal to bury the terrorists is only a public relations stunt, but at this point religion as a whole ought to be grateful that someone is concerned with public relations.

In “The Religious Case Against Belief,” James P. Carse refers to religions as “a conjunction of questions” posed by people who feel that something is at stake, that something matters. Where else in our societies except in churches are these feelings expressed and questions examined, coupled with a tradition that connects us both to the future and to the culture of history, the centuries of music, art, and philosophy that need to be nurtured and kept alive if only for their beauty? It seems a shame to cast away the old institutions in order to form new ones that may be just as vulnerable to misuse. Let’s be grateful that for whatever reason, the Muslims of India are rejecting evil and not abandoning their conjunction of questions. We might hope for a time when they acknowledge that they are less certain of their answers,as,in my opinion, all thoughtful people of good will should be when facing questions that are almost imponderable, but for now condemning these evil acts is a good first step.

Elizabeth, Peterborough, NH

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108.

February 18, 2009 11:45 am

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Friedman’s piece is both courageous and timely. These are words that must be pondered upon as much by the US State Department as by every South Asian.

People like the 17th century scholar-soldier Dara Shukoh, murdered son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the freedom fighter Maulana Azad (Gandhi called him “my conscience keeper”) and contemporary outspoken writer Salman Rushdie, who stood up to fatwa, all come out of this proud tradition of thousands of years of LIVED secular pluralism. We people of diverse faiths as well as agnostics and atheists, have lived together, grown tolerant of each other in our lush (rather than harsh) natural environment and in the process, discovered treasures in each others’ culture.
In India Democracy is not some borrowed western concept. It has emerged out of a lived experience of discursive mingling of Greek, Indian, and absolutely YES, Islamic ideas, not to speak of Sikh, Christian, Judaic, Zoroastrian, Dalit and indigenous tribal ideas.

However religious tolerance and secular pluralism are not the same thing as developing uncompromisingly intolerant attitudes and policy about hunger, homelessness and inequality of opportunity.

The Indian secular democratic project has miles to go.

Chithra KarunaKaran
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com

EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY

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109.

February 18, 2009 11:46 am

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I so admire you and almost all of your commentary, Mr. Friedman, whether column or book length. But do you really think the Indian Muslims’ actions and statements are motivated entirely by “good” interpretations of the Quran and pride in their nation, or might fear and political necessity have more to do with it?

I think the better current news example of the utility of the worldviews instilled by the Quran and other “scriptures” is the chap who founded the TV station to counter stereotypes of Muslims then beheaded his wife.
That story, like those of suicide bombers and others one can read about almost every single day, is a microcosm of the sort of good intent and aspiration that is eventually foiled and twisted into evil tragedy by the unsupportable foundational belief that it was a supernatural deity, rather than humans with agendas, who composed religious texts.

As long as that sad foundational delusion is propped up in any society, there will always be some interpretations of both Quran and Bible which produce good results, and also interpretations that produce horrible, needless, and unceasing tragedy. Many of the tragedies will go unseen or unacknowledged, especially in those cultures which promote and honor deity belief.

You sort of dance around the most fundamental reason why India is not in the same sad shape as Pakistan, which is that India’s secular institutions put better brakes on the insanity that rises from a cultural foundation of Hindu and Muslim deity beliefs.

Put bluntly, no matter how much you and our broader society denies it, the last people on earth who will fully appreciate what it means to live in a “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” world will be those who think the only truly important information was transmitted from an all-knowing god – and accurately recorded – back when the sun revolved around the earth and provided the only reliable light.

— RBW, Allentown, PA

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110.

February 18, 2009 11:46 am

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This is a pretty pathetic attempt by Mr. Friedmen to salvage his now-bankrupted theory that Islamic extremism has no audience in India because of its democratic system. Students Islamic Movement of India has proven how wrong he is. As some here already pointed out, if there is no religious tension in India, the decent thing for the Muslim community to do is to bury those 9 terrorists ASAP since this is what Islamic tradition demands. By fabricating some feel good fairytale here, Mr Friedman is turning a blind eyes to the rages festering among the Indian Muslim population,

— wei w, austin

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111.

February 18, 2009 12:09 pm

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It is true that a social deterring machernism can be most effective. But, please note that the people who are recruited to commit suicide are defeated, humiliated and enraged on a daily basis. So, if you treat somebody like garbage in their own country day in and day out, they will attack desperately and violently. ASking them to stop means we have to stop our agression as well. Religion has nothing to do with this. Jews did it, Christians did it, atheists did it and muslims did it… It is just human nature… Stop the agression and noone would support the terrorists. After 9/11, if we went to Afganisthan and built schools, and hospitals and taught them agriculture, we would have saved lives, money and honor. We lost, and our ideology of going to far places and trying to make changes does not work…We are bankrupt, if anyone has noticed…

Selcuk, New York, NY

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112.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Mr. Friedman, I can’t believe you are so naive! Even though there are plenty of muslims in India are totally against violence and pro India, there are growing number of young people who are not! You only speak to elite in the society, but you should go and talk to some of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir, Old city of Hyderabad, parts of Utter Pradesh and some other mjority muslims cities. There are organized groups like SIMI (which is banned by India) is doing all the damages to the society. In fact, in the 2002 Parliament attack, the prime accused is an Indian muslim who is a well educated professor. Many local attacks are carried out by groups like SIMI, which are not generally reported in international news papers.

There are political parties in India who for their own advantage encourage the ‘minority’ sentiment which also helps these local terrorist groups.

Your article in my mind is a wishful thinking, not the reality.

— Ananthan, Portland, OR

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113.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Fundamental problems are not related to religion or race but culture. Good thing is that culture can be changed – like in our families, companies, organizations and communities.

In general, Muslim communities are suffering from a culture of lies, victimhood, violence and intolerance of non-muslims. In places like the US, India, and Turkey, the dominant cultures make an impact in countering these negative attributes. A secular legal structure helps further. But without such an influence, it is hard for moderate Muslims to raise their voices against Mullahs and that leads to perpetuation of the culture of intolerance and lies.

Alan, Washington

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114.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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Unfortunately for his critics, Tom Friedman seems to thrive on contoversy. All he needs to do is miss an obvious couple of points and elevate a silly notion to be the center piece of his articles to get everyone riled up with criticism.

BTW, Poster “Asain, India,” Islam does not tell muslims to fight to convert others. The clear instruction in the Quran is that “There shall be no complusion in religion.” It is one thing to disguise as a muslim, but at least the facts should be accurate.

— Tony, Chicago

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115.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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The comments are as interesting as the article in itself… I am not sure if the stand taken by the religious leaders should be attributed to some enlightened view on violence.

— Kowlasar Misir, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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116.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Mr Friedman you are off the mark again. Get off the main roads and go to the interior of India. (check out the villages of Mangalore for instance). I know for a fact that Wahabi schools sponsored by Saudi Money are sprouting up in these villages brain washing the minds of young Muslims in India. In the villages, it is ironic that the older Muslims are more moderate than the younger Muslims. This has led to some Hindus joining groups such as Ram Sena for safety reasons since the Police can be easily bought. As these young students of the Wahabi schools group up, India will be the center of Militant Islam not Pakistan.

— San, Chicago IL

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117.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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As I read this column I was thinking of sending it to a few of my friends who are Muslims with “I think they are finally starting to get it” in the subject line. When I got to the paragraph that began with “The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” — the Muslim community itself — to say “no more.” When a culture and a faith community delegitimizes this kind of behavior, openly, loudly and consistently, it is more important than metal detectors or extra police” I decided not to.
I am not a Muslim (or a Christian or Jew for that matter) but I have had many conversations with my friends on what the Qu’ran actually does say and Mr Friedman was totally accurate on that point.
The problem with his comments on the “village” and the “community” is that Mr Friedman has clearly not spent any time in that community of Islam. The general consensus amongst Muslims, true Muslims, is that these murderers are not Muslims at all–just as KKK members are not Christians. My requesr to all is to stop reading the hyped up, dramatized, and flat out “ignorant of that which they speak” headlines and, at least, visit the village. What you will find are rational, peace loving followers of a beautiful philosophy ( as Christianity is) who detest what the murderers have done in the name of Islam.

— jcantrell, Oklahoma City

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118.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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“And it is why, as outrageously expensive and as uncertain the outcome, trying to build decent, pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not as crazy as it seems.” Could this mean that long after Afghanistan has morphed into Barack Obamba’s Vietnam, George Bush’s “Vietnam” will turn out to have vindicated his decision to overthrow of Saddam Hussein once and for all?

— JW, New York

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119.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Tom Friedman, what are we going to do with you? You write so darn well and so often about issues that most of your readers have only second or third-hand knowledge of. Why not be convinced that democracy is the reason for the Muslim leaders stand against terrorism. The other options are less known and maybe fit in less conveniently with a world view held by many in the west. We do not want to see ourselves as racists so let us believe that (even) a Muslim in a democracy will feel free speak out against terrorism. The fact that India is an ethnic tinder-box does not fit in to that view. The fact is that just in the past few years, much less dramatic events than the attack in Mumbai have resulted in anti-Muslim riots leaving thousands raped, murdered and homeless here in India. There was a real danger that such rioting would erupt again and this has had an effect on the reaction of the Muslim establishment. So the situation is possibly somewhat more complicated than what you present. I pray for the day that every Indian has the freedom to speak his mind, without fear of repercussions from thugs who torch newspaper offices and homes or from police who feign encounters to silence unwelcome opinions. Unfortunately we are still a ways from that day.

Ben, India

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120.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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“…it is why, as outrageously expensive and as uncertain the outcome, trying to build decent, pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not as crazy as it seems.”

The lack of knowledge about pre-invasion Iraq that comments like this display is shocking to the point of near-criminal.

I almost expect it when people like Lindsey Graham, speaking at the Republican Convention last summer, justified the invasion of Iraq by saying “Finally, we can have a country in the Mid East where a WOMAN can have a say on her future and that of her children!”. The view that pre-invasion Iraq was some Taliban-like society is shockingly uninformed. Coming from a person on the street it would be one thing, but coming from people who were actually instrumental in supporting the decision to invade, like Senator Graham or a journalist for a major newspaper like Friedman, such moronic lack of knowledge of Iraq before the war is near-criminal.

I have Iraqi friends, and every time I report these kinds of statements they simply can’t believe it. “Iraqi women were completely free!” my one female friend says. “We weren’t like the Taliban or Al Quaeda or something, that’s ridiculous!” she says, aghast at the images that Americans seemed to have of her country.

It’s also not the case that there was one state religion in Iraq, contrary to what Mr Friedman seems to think.

With people like Graham and Friedman bending the ear of the recently departed administration, no wonder we blundered into such a disaster.

Timezoned, New York City

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121.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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Mr Friedman:

I agree with those who consider fear from the majority Hindu as the incentive to deny the dead Muslim men burial.

I don’t know why Timothy Mc Veigh and others who have committed acts of terrorism against their fellow citizens are denied the prominent coverage you give ” Muslim terrorists”. Why are you not equally provoked by the bulldozing of Rachel Courie. That brave young woman was run over in cold blood by a tank driven deliberately over her body by Israeli solders illegally camped on Palestinian soil. Why do you condone by your silence the burns inflicted on children by the phosphorus bombs used by the Israeli army during the Gaza massacre of civilians. Why is it appropriate to excuse the Gaza killing of civilians by claiming that Hamas hid among the population, when the fact is the Gaza strip is the most densely populated area of the world and thus there is not an inch of Gaza land where the Hamas could be alone or safely hide. Why not excuse acts of Muslim terrorism as you excuse other terrorist acts. Sadly it is only when muslims detonate incendiary devices that the word terrorist emerges from your vocabulary. The US navy ship sunk in the Mediterranean sea killing US Navy men and women by Israelis is a mistake. In your columns Muslims never make mistakes they are deliberate terrorists. I implore Allah to grant you the wisdom to judge with impartiality. I am proud to be Egyptian to be muslim and above all to be a muslim woman .

Houria Hassouna, Michigan USA

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122.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Indian Muslim, “No Way, No How, Not Here” attitude is indeed laudable and deserve high praise from all peace loving muslims around the globe. It is worth noting that they have taken a principled and courageous stand which should be recognized and applauded by the Indian hindus, who are in overwhelming majority in India and must engage all Indians to maintain communal harmony in their society.

Indian muslims and even christians, continue to suffer from grave injustices, humiliations and killings in various parts of India and must be treated with respect fairness and dignity.

Finally, kudos to Tom Freidman by writing an intelligent and an unbiased article in this critical phase of “war against terror”. I mostly enjoy reading his opinions and analysis, except in the case of Israel where he seems to lose all semblance of justice and fairness. Hoping that he will be more objective in future, as there are numerous complex issues where his foresight will be needed.

— Zaheer Khan, Montreal, Quebec , CANADA

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123.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

I am Indian-American and I have no bias towards my country of birth or country of adoption. But I am pained at your fairy tale writing of Mr. Friedman.

I was in Delhi, India when Mumbai 11/26 happened. And I know first hand how mad the Hindus were at Muslims … Indian Muslims. If you talk to any Indian (other than Muslim) they will say send all Muslims to Pakistan.

Yes, the Muslims are afraid to bury the dead becasue they don’t want to enrage the Hindus and create another communal war.

SK, IL

— IL resident, IL

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124.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Tom Friedman, what are we going to do with you? You write so darn well and so often about issues that most of your readers have only second or third-hand knowledge of. Why not be convinced that democracy is the reason for the Muslim leaders stand against terrorism. The other options are less known and maybe fit in less conveniently with a world view held by many in the west. We do not want to see ourselves as racists so let us believe that (even) a Muslim in a democracy will feel free speak out against terrorism. The fact that India is an ethnic tinder-box does not fit in to that view. The fact is that just in the past few years, much less dramatic events than the attack in Mumbai have resulted in anti-Muslim riots leaving thousands raped, murdered and homeless here in India. There was a real danger that such rioting would erupt again and this has had an effect on the reaction of the Muslim establishment. So the situation is possibly somewhat more complicated than what you present. I pray for the day that every Indian has the freedom to speak his mind, without fear of repercussions from thugs who torch newspaper offices and homes or from police who feign encounters to silence unwelcome opinions. Unfortunately we are still not quite there. There is a large Muslim community that is feeling increasingly alienated. Let us not be misled by the official statements or even fatwahs of an insecure Muslim establishment. The situation on the ground is diametrically different.

Ben, India

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125.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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I’m not sure purposefully disprespecting the corpses of those who are obviously deeply and depressingly dysfunctional does anything to disabuse us of our own deep and depressing dysfunction.

— J. Cornelio, Washington, CT

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126.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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Mr. Friedman is correct that Muslims do not condone terrorists. I wish that Mr. Friedman uses the same standard in his op-eds about Israel‘s asymmetric wars on its Arab neighbors.

— ahmad, fort lauderdale,fl

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127.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Thomas Friedman can try to explain the Indian Muslim refusal to bury Pakistani Muslim terrorists by saying that Indian Muslims enjoy the freedom of a democratic society but his argument collapses because Britain‘s Muslims live in a democratic society and yet they participate in and applaud the slaughter of innocents. The blatant inconsistencies of Friedman’s views seem to go unnoticed by his loyal liberal followers as they sit around singing Kumbaya.
Linda G,
West Bloomfield, MI

— linda goudsmit, michigan

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128.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Don’t you ever get tired of your overly simplistic analysis and characterization that invariably lead to a complete misreading of the situation.

The terrorists haven’t been buried because the same Muslim brotherhood adherents who committed these acts are too afraid of the Hindu extremists that are too much like them…and they are all cowards.

And you take any morsel of evidence to justify your terrible misjudgments regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. Sane men don’t take one or two quotes from like-thinkers as themselves and expanded that to actionable policy when there are reasonable competing views. You seem to and you seem to come to many wrong conclusions.

And I am afraid that even now Obama will lead us into a quagmire in Afghanistan that will eventually bring down his presidency. All because he may believe even a little of what you say.

— rlk, chappaqua, ny

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129.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

Historically, Indian Muslim community is extremely well integrated with Indian Hindu, Christian, Sikh community in pretty much all aspects of life cultural practises, fashion, movies, music, arts and sometimes even overlapping religious celeberation. Often Muslim kids celeberate Diwali with firecrackers, Holi with colors and Hindus visit Muslims on Eid celeberation.

Unfortunately, Inspite of very strong and committed efforts by prominent secular Indians (political leaders, religious leaders, movie stars, artists etc) these old problems (seeds) often crop up. Similar, fanatism exists among Right Wing Hindu Fanatics who have recently used voilence to curb Valentines Day celeberation and also assassinated Mahtma Gandhi.

What you see now is manifestation of what Britishers have left behind in this part of the world, Divided/Disintegrated India. Just like the way they did in many other parts of the world. Mr. Friedman conveniently forgets that almost all of these problems are due to the seeds of “divide and rule” policy and the mess left behind by the western governments, particularly British Empire. Those same seeds of oppressive policies sown by Britishers in “Jalyanwala Bagh” where they indiscriminately massacred civilian Indians, Kashmir, Northern Ireland have become crops in many parts of the world.

— Jim Prince, New York

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130.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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Mr. Friedman,
The actions of not burying the dead are not to be lauded. We are better than them and are capable of showing compassion.

Secondly, the Indian Muslims you are talking about do not exist. They cannot bury the terrorists because of the very real fear of retributions from the Hindu community. You only have to go back to Gujarat circa 2002 to validate that fact.

The right wing Hindu nationalist BJP and the various offshoots of the RSS were so successful in the killing fields of Gujarat that they are repeating this ‘experiment’ of extermination in Karnataka against muslims and in Orissa against Christians.

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, who in any civilized society, would have been tried for genocide is now a viable candidate for the Prime Ministership.

Try renting a flat/(apartment for the Americans) as a Muslim in central Bombay. Try driving at night with a Muslim name on your license. Then tell me what the police in Bombay and Delhi ‘charge’ you to let you go. On that note, How many Muslims are there in the police force in India? How about the army?

When a population so large has been coerced for so long, with the threat of riots and pogroms hanging over the head at all times, do not be surprised when they cannot bury the dead.

They are yet to send a single person to prison for the massacre in Gujarat. They are yet to allow the poor Muslim villagers back to their houses after 7 years of living in refugee camps after they were driven away by the Police and the Army and private Hindu Militias in Gujarat.

But of course, if the Muslims take up arms to fight this, they will be branded as terrorists.

But that’s the way it is.

Syed, New York

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131.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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Tom

As honest, as futuristic and as impractical your objective are, they still deserve applause. For writing them. And for sticking to those hopes which are usually shattered very easily by violence all around.

But, you are still not trying to explore “crux” of this problem. Let me talk with respect to paskistan. The basis for paskistan was to form separate only “Islamic” nation after partition or rather British induced partition of Greater India. People who wanted Islamic state got Pakistan. Some of them nver wanted anything of that sort but were forced to accept that. But by now they are very much “institutionalized” with the notion of Islamic nation. Only thing that can change paskistani people to root for change is invasion of their lives by Taliban. If Taliban does to them what they do to Indians then they will start their uproar. Not till then. What Taliban is doing right now is on a fragmented scale. So, it is still not taken seriously. One must also weigh these issues on socio-economic scale.Indian muslim are part of larger Indian diaspora and are “intricatley” realted for their livelyhood and their prosperity on INDIA.

IF there is some way to have Iraq, Iran and Israel and Arab-states to share “parasitic” relatioships in terms on money and their livelyhood that we will make things better. Same applied for Indo-Pak relationships. Ordinary people (likely me) worry about livelyhoods and if they know that their livelyhood is intricately attached to somewhere then they might be less reluctant to jeopardize their own interest.

IF this does not work, nothing else can. B’cos forces of “institutalization” (In this case, religion and nationalism) can only be broken from self-interestes. That in turn can be “induced” by economic interrelationships.

What I am wondering though is if UN is not doing this what the heck are they doing?. If IMF does not have this as a top priority on their list then what the heck are they doing? If US does not or is not paying attention to this matter as a part of their foreign-policy then what the heck they are doing?.

May be it is just me or may be its time to relocate UN from costly suburbs of NY to Gaza Strip. Let them feel the “heat” and they will start working -:)

— $ujay, PA

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132.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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Mr. Friedman,

It is hard for me to fathom that you are still trying to justify unilateral invasion of another sovereign nation for the purposes of land grabbing and controlling oil interests. While I am a huge supporter of non-violence and peaceful protest, terrorism is by its very nature a tactic of the weak when they feel they have no other recourse against persecution (assuming that this persecution is indeed real and not fabricated). Therefore, while condemning suicide bombers and their supposed enablers for labeling them as martyrs, it would only be fair to take to task all those that employ imperialistic tendencies in the name of freedom fighting. To paraphrase you, once a tactic is employed abroad it’s not long before those same tactics will be used at home. We can only hope that the misguided tactics that you have promoted in dealing with the Middle East do not take root in our country as well, if they haven’t already.

— GQ, New York

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133.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

Link

You bring to mind the tragedy that occured when Mountbatten agreed to the partitioning of India. Had we kept as “India” what has now turned into Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar we would have prevented the occurance of much of the truly massive suffering that has taken place in those countries since 1947.

Did you know that the greatest single involuntary movement of people to have taken place in the history of mankind — one that the National Geographic doesn’t even recognize in is famous “refugee maps” — is the expulsion of Bangladeshi hindus.

Look at what Pakistan is evolving into. Look at Sri Lanka‘s endless war. Look at the continuing efforts by the Burmese to expunge and/or suppress their minorities.

While India has had its problems, it remains an effective, pluralistic society — an example to us all.

Food for thought: Mountbatten was smitten with Gandhi. It was Gandhi’s decision, following a trip to Mohakhali (in what is now Bangladesh) to “allow” the partition of India. Indeed, all this suffering resulted from a simple decision by Gandhi.

Next, you are all challenged to look beyond Gandhi’s deservingly famous “non-violence” principles to his other famous legacy — “self-sufficiency.” This, because of Gandhi’s enormous prestige in the “development community” has, more than any other single factor, retarded development of rural villagers (the world over) in what has become a functionally “interdependent” world. History will not be so kind to Gandhi.

— Paul Skillicorn, Austin, Texas

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134.

February 18, 2009 1:46 pm

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I’m in partial agreement with Mr. Friedman, but I would add this:

“The Village” Tom refers to is all of us, regardless of religion or nationality. I would not single out Muslims or anyone else.

The issues come down to our leadership and our dissemination of information. The latter has 2 parts: Education and The Media.

The first decade of 2000 brought about the worst set of leaders I have seen in my lifetime: Bin Laden, Bush, Sharon, Saddam, Taliban, Ahmadinejad (just to name a few). The lection of Obama can hopefully help to change the wind direction, but more has to happen worldwide to get moderates in positions of power and influence. For someone like Bin Laden, we need a person of mentor stature who can rebute Al Qaeda at a moment’s notice. (I’m also worried about Lieberman’s influence in Israel)

The media’s problem is that it likes to air the extreme viewpoint since it is more “newsworthy” (read: profitable). We in the village must pressure the media to change.

Education is the other area where we must be vigilant, so that our kids do not choose a suicidal path.

Again, this is a worldwide struggle. Those of us who wish tolerance and reconciliation need to voice our opinions louder. A good book to read on this is Benazir Bhutto’s “Reconciliation”.

Finally, regarding Friedman’s comment on Iraq, I think he’s in error in that while we may have established some good there, there are still a ton of refugees and our actions emboldened the extremists. I do hope Iraq works out OK, but we have a long way to go to beat extremism there and around the world.

— Alan Rotnemer, Rockville, MD

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135.

February 18, 2009 1:49 pm

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At last, a sensible argument as to the true nature of the battle against terrorism. The dire problem that today’s terrorist groups create cannot be resolved with guns and bombs, or computers and metal detectors. It must be resolved by combatting the very ideas that legitimize the harming of the innocent, the killing of harmless men, women and children. It must be resolved by attacking the very ideas that legitimize torture, assassination, brutalization. It must be answered by a restoration within Islam of the fundamental respect of the sacredness of life itself.

— Kenji, NYC

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136.

February 18, 2009 1:49 pm

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I spent 10 weeks traveling in India and met many kind, generous Muslim people. I have great respect for the Muslims living in India. Thanks for a heartwarming article.

— Jerry D, Illinois

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137.

February 18, 2009 1:49 pm

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People living in glass houses should not throw stones.

Why do you put the onus on all Muslims? How come you do not take responsibility for the Israeli atrocities against innocent Palestinians? How come you do not blame the Jews for Israeli crimes against humanity or blame the Hindus for killing Muslims and Christians and burning of the mosques and churches?

These people were Pakistanis and they killed innocent Indians including Muslims. Their heinous act was political and it had nothing to do with religion.

Finally, religion should be kept out of politics and religious states should give way to secular states that includes Israel. Yes, Mr. Friedman, the truth hurts.

— Meehanparast, Chicago, IL

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138.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Muslims in India are a downtrodden minority, but where they differ from other downtrodden minorities in India (of which there are quite a few) is that they have a large global community to look upon for guidance, financial assistance, and political support.

Considering the Hindu-Muslim tensions that so clearly exist in India and the hard feelings on both sides, I cannot be sure the Indian Muslim community rejected the Mumbai terrorists due to a moral position or real loathing for the attacks.

What I do believe, however, is that the Indian Muslim elite (yes, they do exist) need to speak up more often and louder. They’re cosmopolitan, often revered, and hold considerable sway over the country’s young population.

India has a chance, but its timid Muslim elite had fallen short of its responsibilities until these terror attacks. Let us hope that they continue to aggressively and loudly proclaim their loathing of such attacks and ideologies. They appear to be India‘s only bulwark against extremism in the Indian Muslim community.

— AJ, New York

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139.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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When the partition of the Indian Subcontinent occurred, the leaders of both countries made a decision. India decided to be a Hindu-majority nation, while Pakistan decided to be a Muslim nation (not a Muslim-majority one).

If Pakistan had merely been the Muslim version of India (which is what it was all along), then Pakistan, South Asia, and the world would be much better off.

Decisions, like actions, have consequences. India was lucky (blessed?) to have leaders with this foresight. Pakistan was not.

— Siva J, New Jersey

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140.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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I don’t want to take anything away from the Muslim Indian leadership; they did what they should have and they deserve praise.

But Friedman is taking a lot away from Muslim scholars worldwide, who have never failed to condemn terrorism. Sure, there’s few people like Kardawi who treat suicide bombing as a legit way of resistance, but they are a small minority.

The condemnation of terror from Muslim leaders and scholars fills the airwaves in the Muslim world on a daily basis, but rarely makes it to the US, where the general public has to form their opinion based on Friedman and his domestic colleague.

Example: Gulen, the worldwide leader of a worldwide Turkish-majority Muslim network has stated repeatedly that “a Muslim can’t be a terrorist,nor can a terroris be a Muslim”.

And hundreds like him have stated the same.

Friedman should know better.

— ottoman, dc

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141.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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I agree with the thoughts expressed in Mr. Friedman’s article. The moderate Muslim world must come together in opposition to terrorism, both vocally and through action such as being taken by those in Mumbai. However, at the end of his article, Mr. Friedman once again seeks to justify the war in Iraq. Why?

Richard Zimmerman, NY, NY

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142.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Whatever the motive – the fact is they are sending a message – to Muslims not to receive a burial is a horrifying thought. so it would be a detterent to any future terrorist looking to find his place in heaven with the maidens. That is a strong message.

Comparing a few Hindu Radicals in India to the rest of the fanatic Muslims in the world is crazy at best. The idea that Muslims are treated as second class citizens is also ridiculous. They may be the second largest majority and feel that way. But the kind of pandering done by the Govts in the past to this huge vote bank speaks a slightly diffrent story. I am not saying it is a perfect democracy. But Muslims in India have it way better than many of the other countries they live in. That is a fact.

Mr.Friedman sees India for what it is. There is no bias. Which other country has seen a Muslim President, a foreign born National leader and a Sikh Prime Minister. Three people from minority communities holding the highest offices in the land.

— Beginning to worry, Netherlands Antilles

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143.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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“The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” — the Muslim community itself — to say “no more.”

Yes–and the only way to stop Israel‘s barbaric war crimes and crimes against humanity is for “the village” — the Jewish community itself — to say “no more.” How about starting with you Tom?

— JC, Minnesota

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144.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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I was 5 years old in 1948 when Gandhi was assassinated. My Dad was Additional Magistrate in the beautiful hill station of Hazaribagh in today’s Jharkand Province. My Mom, my two brothers and I were in a cinema hall when Dad walked up to us and pulled us out, heading straight for ADM’s police guarded bungalow. He headed straight for our Murphy radio set which was taller than I was. He had told Mom what had happened to Gandhi, asking her to pray to God that it was not a Muslim! At that time I could not understand what was going on because I had never seen my Dad so worried. In the years to come I knew why he was so worried. Had a Muslim killed Gandhi, we, all of us, all Muslims would have been butchered in a matter of days. In 1964, I saw how we would have been butchered with my bewildered eyes. I had just graduated early the same year and appointed as a trainee executive in Tata Industries, which training had I completed, would have launched me on a promising career! But, just days after my arrival, Hindus started bloody riots against Muslims, simultaneously in 3 of India‘s biggest industrial cities; Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bhilai. In Jamshedpur hundreds of Muslim workers were killed by getting thrown LIVE into Tata Steel Mills’industrial furnaces. I was saved by a king Sikh soul who carted me out of Jamshedpur in his small Fiat’s boot. There were no Islamic terrorists then. The Kasmir uprising and the 1971 secession of Bangladesh and Osama Ben Laden and the 1967 Israeli invasion of Egypt, Syria and Jordan were years ahead. There was no PLO let aside Hamas and Hizbollah. Mr. Friedman you wouldn’t cherish being a Muslim in India at any time or a Palestinian in any part of Palestine or a Lebanese in South Lebanon! So, could you please try at least once to place the horses before the carts and stop being a Zionist Neo Con.

— syed salamah ali mahdi, Jeddah, KSA

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145.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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As someone who is born into a Hindu family and raised with human values with friends from all religions, I can attest that many muslims in India have always been tolerant and were Indian before being muslim. However, it needs to pointed out that the sense of alienation among some less-educated muslims was inflicted by right wing politicians and ghastly events such as the demolition of babri masjid and Gujarat etc., which ironically has served the agenda of terrorist elements based in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, many Muslims as have other minorities made great contributions to India‘s progress.

Indian muslims are one of the pearls in the diverse golden string that is INDIA.

VivaVizag, NY

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146.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Is the Bombay massacre, India‘s 9/11? It seems that we akin any and every terrorist attack in the non-Muslim world to 9/11, be it in Bombay, London, or Madrid. However, I think Bombay‘s tragedy should be linked to some other tragedy. More specifically to the bombings at the Islamabad Marriot, the shootings that led to the assassination of Benazhir Bhutto, and the numerous terrorist attacks in Karachi. All of these tragedies were caused more or less by the same people. And we have the same result, piles of dead brown skinned bodies. Ironically, nobody knows more about the terror the people of Bombay felt more than those in Pakistan who too suffered at the hands of the terrorists. By linking Bombay‘s tragedy to Pakistan‘s tragedy, both nations will see the need to be more cooperative with one another.

— Sandeep, Philadelphia

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147.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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As an Indian, I am so proud of the stance Indian Muslims have taken in this matter. However, you do paint a rosy picture. We have not been able to integrate with muslims as well as other religions. Muslims in India are less educated than the remaining population and I worry that it would lead to rise in extremism. The problem may lie with lingering prejudices, and maybe even the more prevalent discrimination against girls education. Hindus are terrible (I am one) as we do aboortions of girls fetuses to get our coveted boys, but once born, the girls have the same education and opportunities. My completely unscientific survey makes me think even middle class muslim families dont have the same approach to girls education (even though the abortions must be much much less as Kuran calls such discrimination ‘haram’).

— anothermom, Michigan

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148.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Mr. Friedman, while well intentioned, your column seems so simplistic it is almost insulting. The muslim leaders and community members of Mumbai who have come out publicly against this act of terrorism are certainly in the right, and their stand against terrorism should be appreciated by the Indian government and world community. But let us not forget the great diversity in the Muslim world before making sweeping proscriptions for the “Muslim community” and “Islam”. It seems that you, while extolling their virtues have made a similar mistake to much of mainstream western thought and rhetoric. Like American, European, or your own “community” Muslim communities all over the world are a chorus of diverse voices and interests, both between them and within them. Indian Muslims included. “Muslim communities” and community members all over the world have varied cultures, identities, and priorities, and most likely value violence, peace, and justice in different ways. Before you blandly and blindly extol the virtue of one over others because it suits your interests and values, I suggest you afford Muslims the same humanity and complexity that your afford your own community.

Bethany, Boston, MA

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149.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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There is clear warning in The Koran that as Muslims attempt to walk what is described as “the Righteous Path”, Satan can appear at any moment from “in front of you, from behind, from the left and from the right”.

And it is clear to many Muslims that the one who whispers in the ear of the vulnerable “You shall kill in the name of God” is that very same Satan, the Iblis, that Darkness who would snuff out the crystal clear light of the One God, or G_D, or God the Father, the Light described in the Koran as “neither eastern nor western”.

Mr Friedman’s quotations from The Koran are correct – suicide is strictly fobidden in Islam and to kill innocents is “like unto killing mankind”.

All people who have felt the “waterfall of light” that comes with enlightenment can respect the stance taken by Mumbai’s Muslim community.

And yet Mr Friedman speaks of course, beyond Mumbai – his is a world view.

The Koran is said to be a “warning for mankind” and the Prophet Muhammad is called Al Nadhir, the Warner.

The beauty of the Koran’s message cannot be revealed to more people while those Muslims who would forsake the Messenger’s recital kill in God’s name.

Those who would discredit Islam are Haram.

Greg Warner, Indonesia

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150.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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There are lots of comments about Indian Muslim community did this because of fear of retributions. It may be true that those calculations went into it. And yes this column is gross oversimplification. Almost everything is.

But some of you including some of the nytimes reading Indians miss the point. It’s called making a positive gesture. And some people in my parents generation appreciate it. To have harmony really need to FIRST connect with people from either communities who are waiting to be persuaded, provided we continue to reach out to each other in ways small and big. Lets give them a reason- any reason.

— jas, boston

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151.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Thank you Mr. Friedman for bringing this story to light. The times I have traveled in India – several times over four and a half decades, I’ve always been struck by the hospitality and graciousness of Muslims I’ve met. Granted some have been shopkeepers who benefit from being kind and courteous, but I’ve felt no difference in treatment over the years as fundamentalism has spread and anger toward the West has spread in many places. I do think it is essential that the Hindu voices of moderation and tolerance can hold on. In recent decades I do think there may have been an increase in anti-Muslim feeling than when I first visited for five weeks in 1963.
I think that more Tamil people around the world need to call the Tiger suicide bombers murderers, too. I don’t want to deny that atrocities have been committed by Sinhalese soldiers and civilians, but supporting with money or words suicide bombing from the relative safety of the West in inexcusable.
Jack Muirhead

— enghse202, illinois

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152.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Mr Friedman
Long time ago you definitely gave up your objectivity towards the Moslem world. In fact, you have a very selective approach when it comes to praise or criticize this community throughout the world, from
Iraq to Palestine, from Afghanistan to Iran, from Indonesia to India. Should you some day explain to the NY Times readers where you stand for in terms of morale and ethics in this very uncertain and perverted world, and conclusively you will earn the merit of those that History give credit whatever the cirumstances and the geopolitical areas they come from.

All my best
Mohamed

Mohamed, New York

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153.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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What is truly surprising is Mr. Friedman’s condescending approval of the actions of Indian Muslims. Not only in India, but all over the world, Muslims oppose violence, whether committed by individuals, groups, or states. Notwithstanding the comments of some individuals here and elsewhere who claim otherwise (and who sometimes quote false translations from the Quran), there is no justification for such actions in Islam. The underlying assumption on the part of Mr. Friedman and others is that Muslims must somehow show contrition for the sins of others. Hindus, Jews, and Christians are not expected to bear responsibility for the actions of the Tamil Tigers, West Bank settlers, or Eta, respectively. Why are Muslims held to a different standard?

— FD, White Plains, NY

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154.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” — the Muslim community itself — to say “no more.”

Great principle. Would also work if the “the village – the Jewish community itself – [would say] no more” to Israel‘s blockade of Gaza, breaking of the ceasefire, bombing, and settlement expansions.

JackieHK, NJ

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155.

February 18, 2009 2:23 pm

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Amazing that the Pakistani embassy in India is not willing to take custody of these wretched bodies.

— Brijen, Rochester, NY

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156.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Congratulations are due to you, Mr. Friedman. I often wish to take issue with your conclusions, but this is incredibly informative, appropriate and thoughtful. I hope it is read, and absorbed, by all who have looked to make excuses for the radical behavior of a few in the global Muslim community — whether their rationalizations have been based on hatred of their own governments, the State of Israel, the US, or most bizarrely, former President Bush.

— John Paul Garber, Boston MA

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157.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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What surprises me is that Islamic Republic of Pakistan has not requested for the bodies. Didn’t the government of Pakistan finally agree that these terrorists were its citizens? Does this mean Pakistan is abandoning the bodies of fellow muslims?

Under no circumstance should these bodies be buried in India lest Pakistan will declare war to claim the burial land because it has Pakistani citizens buried therein.

Islamic extremists have never recognized nor accepted human law. In fact, they consider human law blasphemy and Islamic terrorists consider themselves soldiers of God and have taken upon themselves to establish the law of their holy book.

I don’t know of any other religion whose book has preached that any religion other than Islam is sacrilege and every non-believer of Islam should be beheaded. Over the last 1400 years, this teaching is taken to such an extreme that members of various sects of Islam around the Middle East have been calling each other infidels and killing each other. And every muslim, with deep pride, claims Islam is a religion of peace. Is the meaning of “peace” lost in translation from Arabic? It cannot be the translation, because people who read the holy book in Arabic have been killing each other in the name of a peace loving religion for 1400 years? Of course, the holy book of Islam forbids translation of the holy book of Islam.

— RDU, New York, NY

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158.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Interesting article, but you can judge from your commentator that this is not a simple issue. Muslims in India are, as we all know are at the best a second-class citizen of the Republic of India.
I was born in India, had lived most of my life here in the USA, in order to resolve the issues of terrorism world wide, we have to look at the instigators of Muslim terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Wahabi influence of Saudi Arabia, the Jamaat Islami, the Jamaeh Islamia, Darul Uloom at Deoband, India. Tom, it is not as simple as you project. You have to go to the root cause of the problem. Look at what global security.org has on its web site,

“ Although the majority of the Islamic population (Sunni) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, belong to the Hanafi sect, the theologians who have pushed Pakistan towards Islamic Radicalism for decades, as well as the ones who were the founders of the Taliban, espoused Wahabi rhetoric and ideals. This sect took its inspiration from Saudi Hanbali theologians who immigrated there in the 18th century, to help their Indian Muslim brothers with Hanbali theological inspiration against the British colonialists. Propelled by oil-generated wealth, the Wahabi worldview increasingly co-opted the Deobandi movement in South Asia.”

A lot of intelligence agencies starting from the British ( agent Hempher), the CIA, ISI, RAW, KGB, and Mosad have and are using these fanatics. There is enough blame/credit to go around.
Stupid zealots are hard to come by, so every one uses them for their own reasons. Even if they die in vain no one misses them.

— Wizarat, Moorestown, NJ

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159.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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While religious riots have always punctuated Indian history (with mass murders of BOTH Hindus and Muslims) since the partition, twisted media representations of systematic chronic Muslim subjugation in India are sensational journalism. India is an ancient tolerant society, assimilating cultural, religious, and ethnic influences for centuries. Most Indians, including Muslims, are content to simply strive towards their socio-economic betterment in their day-to-day lives.

This call by the Muslim leaders in India has to be applauded as a sound rejection of the senseless violence and a reiteration of the inseparable Indian identity of the Muslim community.

— Ajay, Minneapolis

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160.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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I think Mr. Friedman and the statements by the Indian Muslim community got this right, 100% right. This is the message that these righteous Muslims of India need to bring to the Muslim and Arab communities around the world.

It is clear, that for warped political, international, internal, inter-ethnic and inter-religious reasons, a minority, a small minority of the Muslim community has poisoned the teachings of the Koran for their own sick purposes.

Perhaps the Indian Muslim community working with other peace loving communities around the world could create an alternative internet website and news service that could provide a more objective and peaceful communication to the world and bring Islam back to its true values and principles.

— rayleeqwooted, New York, N.Y.

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161.

All Editors’ Selections »EDITORS’ SELECTIONS (what’s this?)

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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An excellent article, reminding us that jihadist terrorists do not represent Quranic Islam. One can commend the courage of Indian Muslims even as one understands difficulties they face and what they have had to endure in the wake of Ayodhya, and the Ahmadabad and Bombay killings. At the same time, the ‘Hinduness’ of India tends to be exaggerated and needs to be refined and sifted more carefully by the media.

Another point is debatable: Considering how many people in Indonesia are not Muslims, one could well argue that India has the world’s largest Muslim community. Also, considering that four countries — Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan — each have almost equally large Muslim communities (of roughly 160 to 170 million each), it is time to look beyond the Arab world for the legitimizing of of a truly authentic Islamic umma.

— Robert Eric Frykenberg, University of WisconsinMadison

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162.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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it’s so heartening to read the report on Bombay(Mumbai) Muslims’ reaction in refusing use of muslim grave yard for Mumbai murderers.

As India gets more powerful,economically,politically and militarily you will find a ONE VOICE , a unified voice of all it’s citizens,Hindu,Muslim,Chritian ,Sikh

or Parsi….the voice of sanity and love.

If US and Europe has a vastly developed infrastructure to be proud of ,the Indians have an ancient and tolerant way of life despite poverty to be proud of….even Pakistan and Bangladesh share the same unique civilisation despite the apparent aberrations…it’s a matter of time and these neighbours also shall have an assurance for stability and peace.

Some thing positive reported and that made me realise the hidden strength we have.

— Iyer Nagarajan, Gujarat,India

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163.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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I partly agree with you.Indian Muslims have not accepted to bury bodies of terrorist should be welcomed.Indian Muslims are part of Indian society and they also know this by heart.They have equal rights and in some cases more than normal citizans of India.Though I believe there are extremist in among Indian Muslims who are propakistanis, but it is very small section and they are largely outnumbered by Muslims who are faithful to Indian democracy.I also believe they are witnessing the situation in pakistan and afghanistan where many parts are being controlled by taliban and when you compare level of freedom and ease of life style between those contries and India,they choose to remain with Indian democracy rather than with fanatics.With all those said, there are large numbers of Hindus who do not trust certain section of Indian Muslims, but still distrust is not uoto that extent where they believe that they are part of terrorist culture.

— amit, detroit , MI

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164.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Muslims will only say ‘no more,” to terrorism when they come out of poverty. Friedman thinks they first become moral and that lets them come out of poverty; when it is the other way around. The root of all terrorism is lack of absorption of one’s energies due to unemployment, which issues out of poverty. It also has come about because of 100 years of diplomatic insincerity of the West toward the Arab world. Gorbachav has mentioned this repeatedly, but no one listens.

Roy, San Francisco Bay Area

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165.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Refusing to bury the murderers is empty jingoism. Human dignity needs to be restored for these corpses, even if these people are responsible of the most despicable crimes.

It is sad that a columnist of Friendman’s calibre is exhorting world’s Muslim to do such empty acts, and perpetuating several stereotypes.

The fact is India‘s Muslims are no different from Muslims anywhere in the world. Most of them are peace-loving and a few of them are hardline fundamentalists.

Throughout the ages, India‘s Muslims shaped the history of Islam. They are not an exotic counter-example, but very much a symbolism of the world’s Muslim community. The roots of Islamic fundamentalism trace to the firebrand clerics and mullahs of India during the medieval ages. During the 1500s, the Mujaddid Ahmed Sirhindi of India has shifted the Islamic philosophy from its Greek roots to a conservative movement which de-emphasized reasoning in favor of rote learning and following from Quranic texts. The hardline Saudi theologian Al Wahhab was later inspired directly by the ideas of Sirhindi. In recent times, philosophers such as Abdul Ala Maududi have advocated for a theocratic absolute state under the principles of Sharia. His political outfit “jamat-e-islami” which is influenced by such views, and is quite active today in Pakistan and Bangladesh (and to a lesser extent in India). The roots of fundamentalism can be traced to figures such as these.

After partition of India, some of these clerics have changed shop to Pakistan, but the roots of these fundamentalism remain in India, and continue to have sizable support amongst the disenfranchised and unemployed youth which is manifest in organizations such as SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India).

On the other hand, the highest pinnacles of spirituality and pacifism of Islam are also reached in India which boasts of a long tradition of Sufis and saints, whose “dargah”s have a following amongst Hindus and Muslims alike in India. These saints include Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, Qutubuddin Bakthiar Kaki, Nund Rishi of Kashmir etc..

The majority of India‘s Muslims believe in the teachings of the Sufis and are very peace-loving. This can be generalized to the Muslim community across the world. In stark contrast to these beliefs stand the fundamentalist and bookish beliefs, for example, as symbolized by the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia.

— vakibs, grenoble

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166.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Without denying the good intentions and feelings of most Indian Muslims, I do believe that Friedman has ignored the fear of communal explosion (Hindu extremism also exists) that is never far from the surface in India and is likely the primary, though not only, reason for the refusal to bury. Also, I believe that “fasad” in classical Arabic means generically “corrupted” and cannot be used uniquely to define “the killing of innocents,”but I am not an expert.

Michael, Connecticut

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167.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Friedman wrote concerning the nine terrorists: “There are nine bodies — all of them young men — that have been lying in a Mumbai hospital morgue since Nov. 29. They may be stranded there for a while because no local Muslim charity is willing to bury them in its cemetery. This is good news.”

I am amazed at Friedman’s childish comment that “This is good news.”

If the Indian authorities have determined that there is no evidential use of the bodies of the terrorists and no Muslim charity is “willing” to bury them in its cemetery, ordinary decency dictates then the Indian authorities need to take it upon itself to bury (or cremate) the bodies. That should be the end of the matter.

Human affairs are sometimes unbelievable –including Friedman’s above “lofty” comment.

===================================================

— Observer, Arizona

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168.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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It is my opinion that no civilized society should let a dead body rot, no matter what the ideological reasons are behind refusing a cemetory burial or cremation.

Not knowing much of applicable International law, I would say that India should speicify a deadline for either Pakistan to allow the Pakistani next of kin of the terrorists to claim the bodies, or deliver the bodies to UN for terrorist burial or delivery to Pakistan, or simply forward the bodies to any medical school for anatomic dissection. At least some medical students should be allowed to benefit.

I hope the readers will enlighten me on what happended to the remains of assasins of leaders like Kennedy, Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Liaqat Ali Khan, and Indira Gandhi. In what way the next of kin’s faith will be upgraded or downgraded by accepting and safely disposing off the remains of their kin?

By the way, I am not a Muslim if at all that matters to give credence to my opinion.

— RMK, Hyderabad, India

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169.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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There’s a saying that when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. The appeal of Islamists, with few exceptions, is to young men and women whose futures are otherwise bleak. This is not the fault of the US, Israel, or Western Democracies. It is the fault of their own governments. Until Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and others create conditions where their young people have the prospect of jobs and good lives, then their youth will be prey to Islamists. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

— Abarafi, Santa Cruz, CA

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170.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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there are 160 million muslims im india,forming 14 percent of india‘s population.india has the third highest muslim population in the world. india‘s laws do not discriminate against anybody for their religious identification. but there is societal discrimination among both hindus and muslims,and mutual distrust because of extremist islamic and hindu elements. it is also due to violence being fomented in india by islamists in neighboring pakistan, and possibly bangladesh. some islamist student organizations in india are believed to be behind acts of terrorism, though india also believes that the pakistan‘s army and intelligence is behind many terrorist attacks in india and jammu and kashmir. pakistan is an islamic state, and pakistan‘s army and intelligence is widely believed in india to have fought a proxy war in india for many years. this can only have increased social tensions between hindus and muslims. in 2002, the burning of 50 hindu pilgrims by extremist muslims in gujarat caused violent retributions that resulted in the killing of a thousand muslims by hindu extremists.

muslims in india have accomplished more than their counterparts in other non-islamic countries.but they also experience poverty and are responsible for many of their own problems. as a community, they are resistant to using birth control pills, and sending girls to school. when hindus marry muslims they are forced to convert to islam, since islamic law does not allow such weddings otherwise.

while referring to india, it is important to consider the standards in other countries. religious minorities face discrimination,both by law and society in all islamic countries., as the us state department report on religious freedom in pakistan indicates for example:

http://2001-2009.state.gov…

islamophobia is running strong in the US among the conservatives and neo-conservatives,who repeatedly called obama a ‘muslim’ during the 2008 presidential election campaign.muslims undergo extra scrutiny at US airports and experience societal discrimination and segregation in america.a few pakistanis were kicked off a plane recently, causing islamic rights organizations to protest.

hindus face severe discrimination,both societal and by law in pakistan. the highest rank any hindu has ever acheived in the pakistan army is ‘colonel’. there have been instances of hindu women having been kidnapped,converted and forced to marry islamic militants. this is also mentioned in the US state department report.

— observer, us

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171.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Though your article reads very well, I am afraid both your analysis and conclusion are as wrong as a mistake. You quote M.J. Akbar to support your viewpoint. Akbar talks so wisely not necessarily because he’s a Muslim, but probably more bacause half his family is non-Muslim – it’s Hindu.

Again you’re wrong for facts, when you seem to indicate that Indian Muslims have not joined Al Quaida due to an emancipation. Indian Muslims have not jined Al Quaida in the states where they are in minority or said differently, live with more civilised people. For example take Kashmir, another state of India. There Muslims are in majority and are very much with Al Qaida. There people are hanged, woman are raped and sawed in electric mills into their limbs, heads, hands and haunches every day. The fact is wherever in the world, be it in India or US, where Muslims live with Christians or Hindus or Buddhists as a minority, they are well behaved and often live as decently and honorably as the rest. But wherever they are in majority, be it in India or anywhere else, they are a menace, because they are infested with too much Islam. You need to read 1000 years of Islamic history before you ship out your conclusions and dare I say, misguide the news.

Nothing against you personally. You are a good and honorable man. But often your writings assume you know more than the man – particularly the Muslim man. And in that you are wrong.

Samesh Braroo, California

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172.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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OR, It is preposterous to state that India (Government or its people) support suicide bombings carried out by Tamils. Their suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi then prime minister because he sent Indian Army to help Sri Lanka army.
Children raised in diverse society are less likely to become bigots and get brainwashed.
Those nine monsters were raised in a homogeneous society where people of other faith were killed and/or driven out long time ago. As a result young people there perhaps never meet people who are not Muslim, do not dress or look like them or speak their language. It is therefore very easy to fill their mind with hatred for others.
I personally have met Pakistanis who never had met with a Hindu or a Jew until they came to the
USA

— KDP, hOUSTON

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173.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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“Islam says that if you commit suicide, then even after death you will be punished.”

So said an Indian muslim member of parliament. This is a patent misunderstanding of the “suicide” bomber and their take on the tenets of Islam. Jihad is their aim. It is my understanding that they commit martyrdom (not suicide in their view) in keeping with one of the 4 categories of jihad. In these cases the jihad of the sword (the violent struggle against non-muslims). Under their interpretation the act of suicide would be compliant with Islam and in fact be rewarded in the afterlife.

I am sure that TF must have known of this quite common interpretation of the Islamic orthodoxy/extremist. So I wonder why he included the quote without explanation?

— BPM, Toronto

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174.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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Congratulations, Mr. Friedman on another tremendous column. As an Indian American, who grew up in India and who is neither a Muslim nor a Hindu, I was proud to read your column. After all, the word “secular” appears in the first sentence of the Indian constitution.

But there are warning signs. I think the imposition of Sharia law in the Swat valley of Pakistan, is the single most dangerous development in recent days. The inability of the Pakistan Government and army to control the Pakistan Taliban is very distressing, as this movement can soon spread to other Pakistani provinces and the moderates in Pakistan will then find it hard to fight back. If this trend is not arrested, America‘s worse nightmare – a fundamentalist finger on the nuclear weapons may come true.

On the Indian side, there has to be a push back against small minded politicians who try to whip up religious hysteria and anti muslim propaganda to further their political gains.

— j.batliwala, Southbury, Conn.

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175.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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In response to post #6, I can say with the utmost confidence that the vast majority of India Muslims love their country as much as the othe religious groups. They enjoy living in a pluralistic society and its freedoms.The vast majority of Hindus and Sikhs recognize this fact. It is stupid, and almost provocative to assert that the response by the Muslim clerics in India was borne out of fear or retribution from the majority. This a an extremist and cynical viewpoint and I do not believe that to be true. I have several close friends in the Indian Muslim community who say assert and argue with Pakistani Muslims about the freedoms they enjoy in India.

By the way, all sensible and fair-minded non-Muslim Indians have unequivocally condemned the Gujrat riots and are ashamed of this blot in India‘s tolerant history. Just Google it…

— Ash, Shaker Heights, OH

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176.

February 18, 2009 2:48 pm

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If by retribution one means the desecration of a cemetary due to the bodies being disintered by Hindu extremists, then India’s Muslim community is being understandable cautious by refusing to allow the burials.

If they are refusing to allow the burials because they are afraid of Hindu pogroms against their communities, then this is not something Mr. Friedman should be crowing about. If fear of physical injury is preventing these people from following the tenets of their religon. i.e.(quick burial of the dead) then clearly India is not the sort of place anyone would want to hold up as an example of democracy at work.

Owat Agoosiam, NY

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177.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Whatever be the reason for not burying the terrorists, I am proud of my pluralistic society in India that allows all beliefs to flourish and together lets hope faces terrorism united. Jai Ho India!

— sgm, nj, usa

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178.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Dear Tom,

I am a fan of yours and regularly read your column in the NYT. However, I feel you have written this piece on the basis of a few interviews with high ranking people in Delhi. If you had done a little more work, you would have come across organisations like IM, SIMI, HUJI who are not on the same side of the story. I hope and pray that you are proved right.

— s p goel, new delhi India

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179.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Try replacing one word with another… and see what happens: friedman says “If suicide-murder is deemed legitimate by a community when attacking its “enemies” abroad, it will eventually be used as a tactic against “enemies” at home, and that is exactly what has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

i say; “If homicide-murder (missile launched, airborne or drone launched bombs,etc)is deemed legitimate by a community when attacking its “enemies” abroad, it will eventually be used as a tactic against “enemies” at home, and that is exactly what has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” and starts to be done at home…

— gennari3, rome italy

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180.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Does Mr. Friedman actually expect the reader to be influence by this not so subtle anti-Muslim propaganda. Why doesn’t Mr. Friedman write about virulent Israeli religious fanatics who are just as abominable as any Muslim terrorist?

— David G. Ward, Groton, CT

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181.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Yes, it “takes a village” to make a culture people live for, or die for.

Now imagine how well we might do as Americans if we respected “the villages” of the world as something more than more markets for our bankrupted finance titans, our car makers who can’t survive by free enterprise, and our Congress serving mainly lobbyists of the usual biz school & commercial bent?

Do our schools – our institutions of “higher ed” – have anything to contribute to this new-found “village” integrity you celebrate – or will all go on dedicated as all have to the corporate agendas and habits otherwise all failing?

Phil Balla

Proprietor, www.EssayingDifferences.com

— ballaphil, Walnut Creek, California

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182.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Several of you have acknowledged that India’s secular temperament is what makes for feeling a part of the whole country.Those who write that democracy is not the reason for Indian Muslims not wanting the terrorists buried in a Muslim cemetary, are perhaps partly right; but only partly. India has a great tradition of accepting all peoples. Remember that India‘s first education Minister after partition, was a Muslim-Maulana Azad. Can Pakistan every hold up a similar example? The answer is implicit. No. Those of us who went to school in India learned the lesson of tolerance at home and in the classroom. We had classmates from all religions, and we celebrated everything from Id to Diwali to the Parsi Navroze. When the door is closed to everyone but Muslims, as the case in Pakistan, the consequences are dire. It spawns hatred and intolerance. That is how radicals are made.

— zsjardin, chicago

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183.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Mr Friedman, can you give us parallel stories of Hindu nationalist “villages” refusing to bury “martyrs” who kill Muslims, Jewish religious fundamentalist nationalists “villages” who refuse to bury “martyrs” who kill Arabs or fellow Israelis, or Roman Catholic fundamentalists who refuse to bury “martyrs” who bomb abortion clinics, or an American president, democratically elected, who refused to give a speech honoring the dead at an SS cemetery?

Further, do you feel, Mr Friedman, that the father of one of the “fasadists” has the legal and human right under rule of law (not religous law) in Mumbai to claim the body of his son and bury him quickly in his religious tradition? Should the father receive protection under rule of law from democratic mobs?

Finally, isn’t it true that your “flat world” ideas whether in Mumbai or Iraq or China ignore the fundamental contradiction between hierarchical local culture and the religion and morals of the “village” on one hand and the global liberal democracy and economy and rule of law overriding religion and tradition from the US perspective that you advocate? For example, in Iraq the US military simply funds militias for the religious group in favor against others deemed “terrorist,” while in Afghanistan the US funded the same people now in Taliban, as long as they fought the Russians or Communists. Such acts might support US economy or national interests, but do they really build rule of law, democracy, sustainable liberal economy, or lead to a peaceful “flat” but pluralist world?

I think while you are in India you should investigate why Gandhi’s ideas had no effect on the caste system or the number killed in the partition. And when you come back you should investigate the role of identity politics in the US and the reasons why US society has not been reformed in the way you prescribe for other nations.

— joe.shuren, bouvet island

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184.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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There will be a lot of skeptics to this article. Alas, it is easier to succumb to promoting religious divisions (as Pakistan has done) than it is to take the higher road of secular integration. India is a miracle, although not without its imperfections. The fact that so many millions of Muslims choose a life of peace and prosperity speaks volumes not to the tyranny of the Hindu majority, as some would have it, but to the egalitarian principles upon which India is founded upon.

— kabirew, Seattle, WA

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185.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Dear Mr. Friedman,

While I do find your article overly simplistic, I applaud you for painting the correct broad strokes. As a Hindu living in a city with 45% Muslim population, I can indeed aver that Indian Muslims are peace-loving patriots. However, their lot has not been an easy one – in general, they are lesser educated, and less well off than their Hindu bretheren. It is a testament to their faith in Indian democracy that they continue the struggle to better their lives. Yes, age-old prejudices exist on both sides. Yes, Gujarat happened (has NY Times ever reported about why it happened? Google for “Godhra”). Yes,religious riots occur. All of these almost always have a political intent. The average Muslim in India is busy trying to create a better life for himself and his family, just like the average Hindu. He does not care about Pakistan or the Jihad. He could care less about those corpses in the Mumbai morgue. I know, because I live and work among many such Muslims.

— Shav, Hyderabad, India.

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186.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Great columsn Mr. Friedman

I am proud of Indian democracy and Indians (Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jians, jews, zoroastrians.). India has always sheltered the needy including the Jews when they seeked refuge from the atrocities of Romans or Zoroastrians, who seeked refuge from the atrocities of Arabs.

Thanks to Friedman for bringing the true picture of India. I totally reject those comments (most probably coming from Pakistanis) that claim that Indian muslims are not letting the Pakistani terrorists to be buried under pressure from the Hindus. That is absolutely rubbish Pakistani idea.

Indian muslims are rejecting Pakistani terrorism because India is superior idea. As Shabna Azmi pointed out that Indian muslims can think of becoming Azim Premzi (one of richest entrepreneaur) Pathan brothers (cricketers) or honorable Abdul Kalam (ex-president of India. There is more hope for muslims in India than in any muslim country.

That does not mean India is perfect we have problems too (Gujrat riot or Bombay riot). India is determined to get rid of those with time.

World community needs to unite against Taliban/Al-Qaeda/Pak-ISI-army-mullah network who export terrorism everywhere.

— Bhaskar, Sunnyvale, CA

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187.

February 18, 2009 2:52 pm

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Dear Mr Friedman,
you write …”The nine are the Pakistani Muslim terrorists who went on an utterly senseless killing rampage in Mumbai…”. This killing rampage may not have been so utterly senseless as it may seem. Before the massacre the governments of
India and Pakistan were on a tentative path of reconciliation, leaving the Pakistani army with more resources to deal with the restive tribal areas. After the massacre, and the expected Indian outrage and calls for armed response, the Pakistani army saw it necessary to redeploy significant forces away from the tribal areas towards their border with India. The result was a significant lessening of the government’s efforts to combat islamic extremists in these tribal areas. It is likely that the inability to commit sufficient resources contributed, at least in part, to Pakistan‘s recent peace deal with the Taliban in the Swat valley. Seen in this light the decision of the Taliban to sacrifice 10 fighters to remove the pressure of the Pakistani army and gain control over an entire valley would indeed be not so utterly senseless after all – wouldn’t it?

— Karsten, Philadelphia

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188.

February 18, 2009 2:55 pm

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I am a muslim who lived in Bombay for 26 yrs among people of different religions. I think we should forgive like Christ teaches and bring an end to this. We can call ourselves civilized if we send the bodies back to their relatives if they accept it. It is not about those who killed, it is about those who survived. Our sympathies lie primarily with the victims and their relatives, but we have to extend our forgiveness to their relatives too. I grew up in Bombay with all my hindu friends and my faith never came in the way between us.

— Kasim Ali, Farmington Hills,Mi

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THE CURIOUS TALE OF MUMBAI TERROR – BY RAVEENA HANSA

February 18, 2009

THE CURIOUS TALE OF MUMBAI TERROR

 

The Mumbai attacks need a thorough investigation

 

By Raveena Hansa

 

 

In all the confusion and horror generated by the ghastly terrorist attacks in Bombay, a dimension which has not received the attention it deserves is the circumstances surrounding the death of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare and two of his colleagues, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte. The major pattern of operations involved well-organised attacks on a few high-profile sites in Colaba – the Taj and Oberoi Hotels and Nariman House – while a parallel set of operations was centred on VT or CST station, Cama Hospital and the Metro cinema, in the middle of which is the police headquarters where Karkare worked. The latter is an area where foreigners are much less likely to be found.

Why is a Proper Investigation Crucial?

 

Hemant Karkare was engaged in unearthing a terror network with characteristics which had not been seen so far. The investigation started by tracing the motorcycle used to plant bombs in Malegaon in September 2008 to a Hindu Sadhvi, Pragyasingh Thakur; it later uncovered a cellphone conversation between her and Ramji, the man who planted the bombs, in which she asked why more people had not been killed. For the first time, the Indian state was conducting a thorough professional probe into a terror network centred on Hindu extremist organisations, this one with huge ramifications, some leading into military and bomb-making training camps and politicised elements in the army, others into organisations and political leaders affiliated to the BJP.  One of the most potentially explosive discoveries was that a serving military intelligence officer, Lt.Col. Srikant Purohit, had procured 60 kg of RDX from government supplies for use in the terrorist attack on the Samjhauta Express (the India-Pakistan ”Understanding’ train) in February 2007, in which 68 people were killed, the majority of them Pakistanis. Initially, militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Islamist terror groups had been accused of carrying out the attack, but no evidence against them had been found.

 

The hostility generated by this investigation was enormous, with allegations that the suspects had been tortured and that Karkare was being used as a political tool, and demands that the ATS team should be changed. Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate L.K. Advani accused him of being a ‘desh drohi’ or traitor, a charge that in India carries a death penalty. The Shiv Sena offered legal aid to those accused of the terrorist attack, and an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna threatened that ‘the people will take action’ against the ATS officers involved in the Malegaon blast probe, adding that ‘On such officers we spit, we spit’.  In an interview shortly before he died, Karkare admitted he was hurt by the campaign against him. On November 26, just before the terrorist attack, the police in Pune received a call from an anonymous caller saying in Marathi that Karkare would be killed in a bomb blast within two or three days.

 

Just as attitudes to Karkare in society at large were polarised, with some admiring him as a hero – one Maulana went so far as to call him a ‘massiha (messiah) of Muslims’, an amazing tribute from a Muslim to a Hindu – while others hated him as a traitor worthy of death, attitudes within the police force too were polarised. For example, dismissed encounter specialist Sachin Vaze (who with three colleagues was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and concealment of the dead body in the Khwaja Yunus case shortly before the terrorist attack) was a member of the Shiv Sena who was actively engaged in the campaign against Karkare and in support of the Malegaonblast accused.

 

Hard Evidence or Pulp Fiction?

 

Given this background, and reports that are riddled with inconsistencies, it is not surprising that many residents of Bombay are asking questions about the exact circumstances of the death of Hemant Karkare and his colleagues; when A.R. Antulay raised the question in parliament, he was merely giving voice to a small part of the doubts entertained by many others. The earliest reports, presumably relayed from the police via the media, said that Karkare had been killed at the Taj, and Salaskar and Kamte at Metro. If this was not true, why were we told this? And why was the story later changed? Was it because it conflicted with eye-witness accounts? In the early hours of the 27th, under the heading ‘ATS Chief Hemant Karkare Killed: His Last Pics’, IBNlive showed footage first of Karkare putting on a helmet and bullet-proof vest, then cut to a shootout at Metro, where an unconscious man who looks like Karkare and wearing the same light blue shirt and dark trousers (but without any blood on his shirt or the terrible wounds we saw on his face at his funeral) is being pulled into a car by two youths in saffron shirts. The commentary says that Karkare ‘could well have fallen prey to just indiscriminate, random firing by the cops’, and also reports that there were two vehicles, a Toyota Qualis and Honda City, from which the occupants were firing indiscriminately.

Later we were given two accounts of the killings where the venue was shifted to a deserted lane without cameras or eye-witnesses. The first account is by the lone terrorist captured alive, claiming to be A.A.Kasab from Faridkot in Pakistan and a member of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to him, just two gunmen, he and Ismail (also from Pakistan), first attacked VT station, where they sprayed bullets indiscriminately. (Around 58 people were killed there; over one-third of them Muslims, and many more might have been killed if the announcer, Mr Zende, had not risked his life to direct passengers to safety.) They then went to Cama, a government hospital for women and children used mainly by the poor. Initially, according to the police, Kasab claimed he and Ismail had killed Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte.   Later, in his ‘confession,’ he claimed that while coming out of the hospital, he and Ismail saw a police vehicle passing and hid behind a bush; then another vehicle passed them and stopped some distance away. A police officer got out and started firing at them, hitting Kasab on the hand so that he dropped his AK47, but Ismail opened fire on the officers in the car until they stopped firing. There were three bodies in the vehicle, which Ismail removed, and then drove off in it with Kasab.

 

The other account is by police constable Arun Jadhav. According to him, Karkare, Salaskar, Kamte, a driver and four police constables including himself were driving down the alley from VT to the back entrance of Cama (barely a ten-minute drive) in their Toyota Qualis to check on injured police officer Sadanand Date when two gunmen emerged from behind trees by the left side of the road and sprayed the vehicle with bullets, killing all its inmates except Jadhav. They then dragged out the three officers, hijacked the vehicle, drove to Metro junction and then Mantralaya in South Bombay, abandoned it when a tyre burst, and grabbed another car.

 

According to police accounts, they then drove to Girgaum, where Kasab was injured and arrested and his companion killed.

These accounts raise more questions than they answer. Kasab claimed that a band of ten terrorists landed and split up into twos, going to various destinations, he and his companion going to VT. He said they wanted to blow up the Taj, as in the attack on the Marriott in Islamabad; yet we are told that only 8kg of RDX were found at the Taj, and even that was not used; contrast this with 600kg of RDX and TNT used to blow up the Marriott: could they really have expected to blow up the Taj? Given that the rest of the operation was so systematic, why did they plant two bombs in taxis to go off in random locations, one in Dockyard Road and another in Vile Parle, 25 kilometres away? He said that the terrorists planned to use their hostages as a means of escape, yet there was no attempt at any time to do that; at other times, he also said they had been instructed to fight to the death.   He says he is a labourer from Faridkot near Multan and only studied up to Class IV, but it is reported that he speaks fluent English. Several people have pointed out that the pictures of him in VT show him wearing a saffron wrist-band, a Hindu custom, and police later revealed that he could not recite a single verse from the Koran, which any child growing up in a Muslim family would have been able to do. Indeed, a thoughtful article on the soc.culture.jewish group argued that the terrorists were not Muslims but mercenaries, given their appearance and behaviour (especially their reported consumption of alcohol and drugs), pointing out that they did not need to disguise themselves, since Muslims who look like Muslims are plentiful in Bombay, and would not attract undue attention.

 

During his interrogation, Kasab said that he and eight of the operatives had done a reconnaissance trip to Bombay a few months back, pretending to be students and renting a room at Colaba market, which is close to Nariman House. It is extremely hard for Pakistani nationals to get Indian visas, and they are kept under close surveillance by the police; it is also most unlikely that the Indian immigration authorities would be fooled by forged passports of another country. In that case, the Indian immigration authorities would have visa applications of nine of the terrorists including Kasab, and could match the photographs in them to those of the terrorists: has this been done? Later, Kasab changed his story and said that the team who carried out reconnaissance was different from the team who had carried out the attacks.

 

The events in VT and Cama and the back lane also put a question mark over his story. According to witnesses, two gunmen started firing at the mainline terminus in VT at 21.55 on Wednesday night, but at precisely the same time, according to CCTV footage, two gunmen began an assault on the suburban terminus.   If the first account is true, there were four gunmen at the station: where did the other two come from, and where did they go? We are shown video footage, claiming to be CCTV but without the timeline of normal CCTV footage, of Kasab and Ismail wandering around the parking lot near the mainline terminus. This surely cannot be before the shootout, since the station is completely deserted; and after the shootout, Kasab and Ismail are supposed to have escaped via the footbridge from Platform 1 of the suburban station on the other side of VT: this, again, suggests there were four gunmen. Even if Kasab and Ismail had been shown photographs of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte before they embarked on their trip, how could they possibly have identified the police officers in a dark alley in the dead of night according to Kasab’s first story? According to his later confession, a police officer got out of the vehicle and started firing first, injuring him; how, then, did Ismail manage to kill the rest by himself?

 

Witnesses in Cama hospital say the terrorists spoke fluent Marathi, and this report in two Marathi papers (Maharashtra Times and Navakaal of  28 /12/ 2008) has been confirmed. The gunmen killed two guards in uniform, spared a third, who was in civilian dress and begged for his life saying he was the husband of patient, demanded water from an employee in the staff quarters and then killed him. They then appear to have made a beeline for the 6th floor (which was empty) and the terrace, taking with them the liftman, Tikhe. 15-30 minutes later, six to eight policemen arrived, and another employee took them up to the 6th floor. The policemen threw a piece of steel up to the terrace, whereupon Tikhe came running down and told them there were two terrorists on the terrace. A fierce gun-battle ensued for 30 to 45 minutes, in which ACP Sadanand Date was injured. Panic-stricken patients and staff in the maternity ward on the 5th floor barricaded the door; nurses instructed the women to breast-feed their babies to keep them quiet, and one woman, who was in the middle of labour, was told to hold back the birth; but they were not invaded. Eventually the gunmen appear to have escaped, it is not clear how.  If they were Kasab and Ismail, then these two must have been fluent Marathi speakers. And why would they have taken up positions on the terrace? Was it because it overlooks the lane in which Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte were later supposedly killed?

 

The other account is equally dubious. In his first account, Jadhav said Karkare was in the second row of the Qualis, while in the second he was supposed to be in the front row with Kamte. In the second account, Salaskar was initially sitting behind the driver, but then asked the driver to slow down and got behind the wheel himself: is it plausible that an experienced encounter specialist would deliberately make himself into a sitting duck like this when they were in hot pursuit of terrorists? In the first account they were supposed to be going to check up on their injured colleague Sadanand Date, but in the second were supposed to be looking for a red car in which they had been told the gunmen were travelling. If the report about the red car was a decoy to lure them into an ambush, it is important to know who told them that the terrorists were in a red car. If the gunmen were firing from the left side, as Jadhav claimed, how was Karkare hit three times in the chest while Jadhav himself got two bullets in his right arm? In fact, the only vegetation in that part of the lane is on the right side, and is pinned to the wall by chest-high wire netting; it would be necessary to climb over the netting to hide behind it, and climb over again to come out: impossible under the circumstances.  Witnesses say only two bodies were found at the spot next morning: what happened to the third officer? Who were the three constables killed?

 

How did two terrorists manage to kill six police personnel, including Karkare and Kamte who he said were armed with AK47s and Salaskar, an encounter specialist, when one terrorist was later captured and the other killed by policemen armed only with two rifles and lathis? Assistant Police Inspector Ombale was killed in that encounter, but his colleagues survived. A DNA report on 2 December said that sub-inspector Durgude, who had been posted in front of St Xavier’s College, between Cama Hospital and the exit point of the back lane onto Mahapalika Road, saw two young men whom he took to be students and called out to warn them that there was firing at Cama. When they ignored him, he approached them, upon which one of them turned an AK47 on him and killed him. If Kasab and Ismail were there, who was firing inside Cama? Again, it is evident that at least four terrorists, and possibly more, were involved in this operation.

 

There was also an intriguing report in DNA on 28 November saying that Anand Raorane, a resident of a building opposite Nariman House, heard sounds of celebration from the terrorists there when the news of Karkare getting killed was flashed on TV: isn’t that strange? The same report quoted a resident of Nariman House and a local shopkeeper who said that the terrorists had purchased large quantities of food and liquor before the attack, suggesting that more than two of them were planning to occupy the place for a long time. Eye-witnesses in St Xavier’s saw a man shot and lying on the pavement in front of the college around 12.30 a.m., while about three gunmen stood over him: who was that? Various reports said that two to eight terrorists were captured alive. Now there is only one in police custody: what happened to the other(s)?

 

A careful scrutiny of all the reports available so far suggests, to this writer anyway, that the killing of Karkare was a premeditated act executed by his self-proclaimed enemies, some of whom had prior intelligence of the attack on the hotels and planned their own attack to coincide with it. The operation in Cama, in particular, seems to have had the sole objective of luring Karkare into the lane where he was later reportedly killed. A.R. Antulay’s demand for a probe into the killing was widely supported, even though the same parties who were earlier vilifying and threatening Karkare responded by baying for his blood. P. Chidambaram’s clarification that it was by chance that Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte happened to be travelling in the same vehicle does not explain any of the other anomalies: Why did the terrorists go into Cama? If they were intending to slaughter people ruthlessly as they did in VT, why did they desist – did they have a sudden crisis of conscience? If they intended to create a hostage crisis, why did they go to the 6th floor and terrace, where there were no patients or staff? On the other hand, if they were looking for a getaway vehicle, wouldn’t they have been more likely to find it on the road than on the terrace of Cama? How did these Pakistanis learn to speak Marathi so fluently? And are we really expected to believe that they could defy the laws of nature by being in two places at the same time, engaged in a shootout at Cama while at the same time gunning down sub-inspector Durgude outside St Xavier’s?

 

The Objective: Shutting Down Terrorist Networks

 

These are just a few of the numerous questions being asked by vigilant Bombayites who find themselves thoroughly dissatisfied with the information that has been doled out. These are citizens who understand that their security depends on identifying Islamist terrorist networks in Pakistan and shutting them down, but feel it is equally important to their security to identify and shut down Hindutva terrorist networks in India, which have been responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in Maharashtra, and possibly the whole country, in the past five years. Why are they so cynical about the possibility of a genuine professional investigation? The answer is that we have too much bitter experience of investigations in which innocent people (usually Muslims) are rounded up, tortured and even killed, while the real culprits are allowed to go free. Interpol chief Robert Noble’s amazing revelation on December 23 that India had not shared any information about the terrorists with it, despite its offer to use Interpol’s extensive resources to assist in the investigation, can only fuel the suspicion that the information dished out by the police to the public via the media is not of a quality that would be acceptable to a truly professional police agency. Karkare broke with this dismal record, but now he is dead. When a person who has been vilified, slandered and threatened with death is killed in suspicious circumstances, it is imperative that a proper investigation should be carried out soon, before too much evidence can be manufactured and/or destroyed. If Kasab aka Iman disappears or is assassinated like Lee Harvey Oswald, or is executed, that could only be seen as evidence of a cover-up.

 

The government and people of Pakistan have as much interest as the government and people of India in eliminating the terror networks that have killed President Asif Ali Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto and thousands of others in both Pakistan and India. The terrorists, on the other hand, be they Islamist or Hindutva, have a common interest in destroying secularism, democracy and peace within and between the two countries. That is their precise agenda. Pakistani politicians had offered a joint investigation into the terrorist attacks, a far more sensible suggestion than belligerent statements by some Indians accusing Pakistan of harbouring terrorists who are killing Indians, which led us to the brink of war. It should be obvious that a military conflict between India and Pakistan, advocated by the Shiv Sena, would be disastrous for both countries economically, while a nuclear war, which might ensue if extremist forces captured power in both countries, would have unthinkable consequences. If the Indo-Pakistan peace process is halted, as L.K. Advani advocates, the terrorists would have won.

 

Indeed, without a joint investigation, the terrorist networks behind this outrage can never be uncovered: how else could the names and addresses in Pakistan revealed by Kasab be followed up to the satisfaction of all parties? Interpol could act as a coordinating agency, but would not be able to follow up information about the terrorists unless it is provided by the Indian authorities. The Indian government owes it to the memory of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte, who died fighting terrorism of all hues, to establish a credible account of exactly where, when and how they were killed, and identify their killers; unlike the well-known female TV anchor and others who berated Antulay for ‘helping Pakistan,’ we do not have to agree that one has to be a moron in order to be a good Indian! The government also owes it to us, the public, who are the prime targets of all terrorist attacks, to carry out a credible investigation which identifies and puts behind bars all the mass murderers involved in this and other attacks.

 

(Ends)

 ———————————————————————————

http://www.hindu.com/nic/dossier.htm



Online edition of India’s National Newspaper


Mumbai Terror attacks – Dossier of evidence

This is a scanned copy of the 69-page dossier of material stemming from the ongoing investigation into the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 26-29, 2008 that was handed over by India to Pakistan on January 5, 2009.

Evidence 1

Evidence 2

 

Evidence 3

Some pages from the dossier were originally posted twice in another format. These have been removed. The complete dossier in the possession of The Hindu consists of 69 pages.

DILEMMA OF THE LEFT

February 17, 2009
DILEMMA OF THE LEFT

The world struggle to prevail has been reduced to three active players: the imperialists, the socialists and the Islamists. The Islamists have never been in the game. However, thanks to Afghanistan and US involvement in throwing out Soviet forces from the occupied country, Islamists have carved a role of their own. Now the war between the imperialists and the socialists need Islamists either as enemies by imperialists to resurrect their spirit to fight, or as friends by socialists, being enemies of the enemies, and therefore fellow travellers.

Left is at the cross roads. It desperately needs legitimacy to team up with the Islamists. And the theoreticians are hard at work to find some common space to stand up against the imperialists.

However, the Islamists have their own agenda and they smell victories emanating fromAfghanistan as well as the killing fields of the Middle East. And they might end up playing a balancing act in the struggle for supremacy.

The following speech is self-explanatory.

 

The Left and Support for Anti-Imperialist Islamist Resistance


Speech delivered by Nadine Rosa-Rosso at the The Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives, held from January 16 to 18, 2009. 

By Nadine Rosa-Rosso 

February 16, 2009 “Countercurrents” — The key question in this forum is how to support resistance against imperialism across the world. As an independent Belgian communist activist I would like to focus on the position of the European Left vis-à-vis this issue.

The massive demonstrations in European capitals and major cities in support of the people of Gaza highlighted once again the core problem: the vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression, but refuses to support its political expressions such as Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Left not only refuses to support them, but also denounces them and fights against them. Support for the people of Gaza exists only at a humanitarian level but not at the political level.

Concerning Hamas and Hezbollah; the Left is mainly concerned with the support these groups have amongst the Arab masses, but are hardly interested in the fact that Israel‘s clear and aggressive intention is to destroy these resistance movements. From a political point of view we can say without exaggeration that the Left’s wish (more or less openly admitted) follows the same line as the Israeli government’s: to liquidate popular support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

This question arises not only for the Middle East but also in the European capitals because, today, the bulk of the demonstrators in Brussels, London and Paris are made up of people of North African origin, as well as South Asian Muslims in the case of London.

The reactions of the Left to these events are quite symptomatic. I will cite a few but there are dozens of examples. The headline of the French website ‘Res Publica’ following the mass demonstration in Paris on the 3rd of January read: “We refuse to be trapped by the Islamists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah!” The article continued: “Some activists of the left and far left (who only turned out in small numbers) were literally drowned in a crowd whose views are at odds with the spirit of the French Republican movement and of the 21st Century Left. Over 90% of the demonstrators championed a fundamentalist and communitarian worldview based on the clash of civilizations which is anti-secular and anti-Republican. They advocated a cultural relativism whose harmful tendencies are well known, particularly in England.

Res Publica is neither Marxist nor communist, but one would be hard pressed to find even the most remotely positive words about Hamas on Marxist websites. One does find formulations such as “Whatever we think about Hamas, one thing is indisputable: the Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas to lead Gaza in elections held under international supervision.” Looking further at “what we can think of Hamas” one finds on the websites of both the French Communist Party and the Belgian Labour Party an article entitled “How Israel put Hamas in the saddle.” We learn little more than the assertion that Hamas has been supported by Israel, the United States and the European Union. I note that this article was put online on January 2nd after a week of intensive Israeli bombardment and the day before the ground offensive whose declared aim was the destruction of Hamas.

I will return to the quotation of Res Publica, because it summarizes quite well the general attitude of the Left not only in relation to the Palestinian resistance, but also in regard to the Arab and Muslim presence in Europe. The most interesting thing in this article is the comment in parentheses: ‘the Left and far Left (who only turned out in small numbers)’. One might expect following such a confession some self-critical analysis regarding the lack of mobilisation in the midst of the slaughter of the Palestinian people. But no, all charges directed against the demonstrators (90% of the whole protests) are accused of conducting a “war of civilizations.”

At all the demonstrations I participated in Brussels, I asked some demonstrators to translate the slogans that were chanted in Arabic, and they did so with pleasure every time. I heard a lot of support for the Palestinian resistance and denunciation of Arab governments (in particular the Egyptian President Mubarak), Israel‘s crimes, and the deafening silence of the international community or the complicity of the European Union. In my opinion, these were all political slogans quite appropriate to the situation. But surely some people only hear Allah-u-akbar and form their opinion on this basis. The very fact that slogans are shouted in Arabic is sometimes enough to irritate the Left. For example, the organizing committee of the meeting of 11 January was concerned about which languages would be used. But could we not have simply distributed the translations of these slogans? This might be the first step towards mutual understanding. When we demonstrated in 1973 against the pro-American military takeover by Pinochet in Chile, no one would have dared to tell the Latin American demonstrators “Please, chant in French!” In order to lead this fight, we all learnt slogans in Spanish and no one was offended.

The problem is really in the parentheses: why do the Left and far Left mobilise such small numbers? And to be clear, are the Left and far Left still able to mobilize on these issues? The problem was already obvious when Israel invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006. I would like to quote here an anti-Zionist Israeli who took refuge in London, jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who already said, six months before the invasion: “For quite a long time, it has been very clear that the ideology of the Left is desperately struggling to find its way in the midst of the emerging battle between the West and the Middle East. The parameters of the so-called “clash of civilizations” are so clearly established that any “rational” and “atheist” leftist activist is clearly condemned to stand closer to Donald Rumsfeld than to a Muslim.”

One would find it difficult to state the problem more clearly.

I would like to briefly address two issues which literally paralyze the Left in its support to the Palestinian, Lebanese, and more generally to the Arab and Muslim resistance: religion and terrorism.

The Left and Religion

Perplexed by the religious feelings of people with an immigrant background, the Left, Marxist or not, continuously quotes the famous statement of Marx on religion:

 

“religion is the opium of the people”.

 

With this they think everything that needs to be said has been said. It might be more useful to cite the fuller quote of Marx and perhaps give it more context. I do this not to hide behind an authority, but in the hope of provoking some thought amongst those who hold this over-simplified view,

 

“Religion is the general theory of this world, (…), its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. (…) The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

(Translation of Prof. W. Banning, Life, Learning and Meaning, 1960, The Spectrum (p.62-63)

I have always been and remain an atheist, but the rise of religious feelings is hardly surprising. In today’s world most politicians, including those on the Left, do little more then display their weakness on this issue: they do nothing against the military power of the US, they do nothing or almost nothing against financial speculation and the logic of profit that plunges billions of people on this Earth into poverty, hunger and death. All this is due we are told to “the invisible hand” or “divine intervention”: where is the difference between this and religion? The only difference is that the theory of the “invisible hand” denies people the right to struggle for social and economical justice against this “divine intervention” that helps to maintain the status quo. Like it or not, we cannot look down on billions of people who may harbour religious feelings while wanting to ally with them.

The Left does exactly the same thing as what it accuses the Islamists of: it analyses the situation only in religious terms. It refuses to disclose the religious expressions as a “protest against misery”, as a protest against Imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. It cuts itself off from a huge part of the masses. Gilad Atzmon expresses it best when he states: “Rather than imposing our beliefs upon others, we better learn to understand what others believe in”. If we continue to refuse to learn, we will continue to lament the religious feelings of the masses instead of struggling with them for peace, independence and social and economic justice.

But there is more. The fate of Islam is very different from that of Christianity. I have never known the Left to hesitate when showing solidarity with the Latin American bishops, followers of liberation theology and the struggle against Yankee Imperialism in the 70s, or the Irish Catholic resistance to British Imperialism. Nor have I known the left to criticize Martin Luther King for his references to the Gospel, which was a powerful lever for the mobilisation of the Black American masses that did not have political, economic or social rights in the U.S in the sixties. This discriminatory treatment by the Left, this systematic mistrust of Muslims who are all without any distinction suspected of wanting to impose sharia law on us, can only be explained by colonialism that has profoundly marked our consciousness. We will not forget that the Communists, such as the Communist Party of Belgium (KPB), praised the benefits of colonization that were enthusiastically spread by Christian missionaries. For example, in the 1948 program of the KPB, when the party had just emerged from a period of heroic resistance against the Nazi occupation, it stated the following about the Belgian Congo: “a) Establishment of a single economic unit Belgium-Congo; b) Development of trade with the colony and realization of its national resources; c) Nationalization of resources and trusts in Congo; d) Development of a white colonists class and black farmers and artisan class; e) Gradual granting of democratic rights and freedoms to the black population.”

It was this kind of political education of workers by the Party which meant that there were hardly any protests from these Belgian workers influenced by the KPB when Patrice Lumumba, Pierre Mulele and many other African anti-imperialist leaders were assassinated. After all “our” Christian civilization is civilized, is it not? And democratic rights and freedoms can only “gradually” be assigned to the masses in the Third World, since they are too barbaric to make good use of them.

On the basis of exactly the same political colonialist reasoning, the Left is rather regretful in having supported democratic elections in Palestine. Perhaps they should have adopted a more gradualist approach towards the Palestinians since the majority of Palestinians have now voted for Hamas. Worse, the Left bemoans the fact that “the PLO was forced to organize parliamentary elections in 2006 at a time when everything showed that Hamas would win the elections”. This information is available on the sites of the French KP and Belgian PVDA.

If we would agree to stop staring blindly and with prejudice at the religious beliefs of people, we would perhaps “learn to understand” why the Arab and Muslim masses, who today demonstrate for Palestine, are screaming ‘Down with Mubarak’, an Arab and Muslim leader, and why they jubilantly shout the name of Chavez, a Christian-Latin American leader. Doesn’t this make it obvious that the Arab and Muslim masses frame their references not primarily through religion but by the relation of leaders to US and Zionist Imperialism?

And if the Left would formulate the issue in these terms, would they not partly regain the support of the people that formerly gave the Left its strength?
Another cause of paralysis of the Left in the anti-imperialist struggle is the fear of being associated with terrorism.

On the 11th of January 2009, the president of the German Chamber of Representatives, Walter Momper, the head of the parliamentarian group of ‘Die Grüne’ (the German Greens), Franziska Eichstädt-Bohlig, a leader of ‘Die Linke’, Klaus Lederer, and others held a demonstration in Berlin with 3000 participants to support Israel under the slogan ‘stop the terror of Hamas’. One must keep in mind that Die Linke are considered by many in Europe as the new and credible alternative Left, and an example to follow.

The entire history of colonisation and decolonisation is the history of land that has been stolen by military force and has been reclaimed by force. From Algeria toVietnam, from Cuba to South-Africa, from Congo to Palestine: no colonial power ever renounced to its domination by means of negotiation or political dialogue alone.

For Gilad Atzmon it is this context that constitutes the real significance of the barrage of rockets by Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance organizations: “This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message regarding stolen land, homes, fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, AshkelonAshdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore”. (Gilad Atzmon – Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land)

What can be understood by an Israeli Jew, the European Left fails to understood, rather they find ‘indefensible’ the necessity to take by force what has been stolen by force.

Since 9/11, the use of force in the anti-colonial and the anti-imperialist struggle has been classified under the category of ‘terrorism’; one cannot even discuss it any more. It is worth remembering that Hamas had been proscribed on the list of ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ by the United States in 1995, seven years before 9/11! In January 1995, the United States elaborated the ‘Specially designated terrorist List (STD)’ and put Hamas and all the other radical Palestinian liberation organisations on this list.

The capitulation on this question by a great part of the Western Left started after 9/11, after the launching of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) by the Bush administration. The fear of being classified ‘terrorists’ or apologists of terrorism has spread. This attitude of the Left is not only a political or ideological question; it is also inspired by the practical consequences linked to the GWOT. The European ‘Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on combating terrorism’ and its attached terror list who was a copy-and-paste version of the American terror list that has been incorporated into European legislation, which allow the courts to prosecute those who are suspected of supporting terrorism. During an anti-war rally in London, some activists sold a publication which included Marxist analysis on Hamas were stopped by the police and their magazines were confiscated. In other words, to attempt to inform people on the political program and the action of Hamas and Hezbollah becomes an illegal enterprise. The political atmosphere intimidates people into distancing themselves from these resistance movements and to denounce them without reservations.

In conclusion I have a concrete suggestion to make: we must launch an appeal to remove Hamas from the terror lists. At the same time we must ensure that Hezbollah are not added to the terror list. It is the least we can do if we want to support the Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab resistance. It is the minimal democratic condition for supporting the resistance and it is the essential political condition for the Left to have a chance to be heard by the anti-imperialist masses.

I am fully aware of the fact that my political opinions are a minority in the Left, in particular amongst the European communists. This worries me profoundly, not because of my own fate, I am not more then a militant amongst others, but for the fate of the communist ideal of an end of exploitation of man by man, a struggle which can only happen through the abolition of the imperialist, colonial and neo-colonial system.

Nadine Rosa-Rosso is a Brussels-based independent Marxist. She has edited two books: “Rassembler les résistances” of the French-language journal ‘Contradictions’ and “Du bon usage de la laïcité”, that argues for an open and democratic form of secularism. She can be contacted at nadinerr@gmail.com


CROP OF POVERTY FLOURISHED IN MANMOHAN YEARS

February 16, 2009

CROP OF POVERTY FLOURISHED IN MANMOHAN YEARS

  

STATISTICAL ESTIMATES SHOW THAT THE NUMBER OF POOR IN INDIA HAS GONE UP BY 20% SINCE 2004-05

ALL POOR DISTRICTS – RURAL AS WELL AS URBAN – ARE CLEARLY IDENTIFIABLE MUSLIM MAJORITY AREAS

MOST DAMAGING REPORT FROM MINT.COM

 

http://www.livemint.com/BCE80ABF-D60D-41EB-A928-4426967580EEArtVPF.pdf

http://epaper.livemint.com/Articletext.aspx?article=16_02_2009_021_002&mode=1

http://www.livemint.com/murshidabad.htm

http://epaper.livemint.com/Web/Photographs/2009/02/16/021/16_02_2009_021_002_017.jpg

 

Once-prosperous silk centre in a sorry state

Some 1.47% of India‘s rural poor live inWest Bengal‘s Murshidabad, says Indian Statistical Institute study

 

Aveek Datta

Kolkata: Murshidabad district, renowned for the opulence of Nawabi rule when it hosted the capital of undivided Bengal in the 18th century, is today home to the maximum number of poor people in the country, according to the first official assessment of poverty across 575 districts.

Suburban Mumbai was found to be the worst in terms of urban poverty, according to the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), which is conducting the study for the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Also See Assessment of Poverty (Graphic)

Some 1.47% of India‘s rural poor live in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. About 3 million people–or 56% of the district’s rural population–are below the so-called poverty line. Although urban areas of Murshidabad are better off, some 347,844 people, or 36.69% of the district’s urban population, are classified as poor.

The statistics illustrate the sorry story of a once-prosperous centre of the silk trade that was said to match London for its splendour during the years of Nawabi rule. Murshidabad, which takes its name from Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, was the capital of undivided Bengal (which included Bangladesh), Biharand Orissa between 1704 and 1790 under Muslim and British rulers.

ISI’s study is based on consumption data collated by the National Sample Survey Organisation, or NSSO, from around 124,000 households across the country in 2004-5. Every five years, NSSO collects consumption data from across the country. The data includes almost everything of daily household use — cereals and pulses to fish and meat and medicines.

India had some 270 million poor people in all when in 2004-05 the consumption data was last collected.

“By now, according to statistical estimates, the figure has gone up by 20%, or about five-and-a-half crore (55 million) people,” said Buddhadeb Ghosh, associate scientist in the ISI’s economic research unit, who is leading the project and will be submitting his report to the Union government in a few weeks.

“In India, the absolute number of poor people doesn’t ever come down, though poverty, as a percentage of national population, declines,” added Ghosh.

Sharp imbalances

The aim of the poverty assessment undertaken by the ISI is to understand disparities within the states, said Ghosh.

Most state governments tend to spend development funds almost entirely on building infrastructure in and around the state capitals, and this has been the trend for the past six decades, according to Ghosh. “This has resulted in sharp imbalances within the states… the aim of this study is to draw the Centre’s attention to these imbalances,” added Ghosh.

In each district, poverty has been assessed separately for rural and urban areas. “For clinical accuracy, we separated rural and urban areas… whereas the poverty line for rural West Bengal is Rs382, poverty line for urban West Bengal is Rs449. Not only did we assess poverty separately, we did not aggregate the two either because that would have compromised the accuracy of the study,” explained Ghosh.

Second to Murshidabad in rural poverty is Bihar‘s Muzaffarpur with 1.96 million poor people. It is home to 0.95% of the country’s 205.4 million rural poor. West Bengal’s Midnapore district comes third with 1.82 million poor people, which is 0.88% of the country’s rural poor. Though Midnapore has been carved up into two districts–East and West–it has been treated as one in ISI’s study.

Of the 25 worst districts in terms of rural poverty, 10 are from Uttar Pradesh, seven from Bihar, six from West Bengal, and one each, from Maharashtra and Orissa.

Uttar Pradesh is the poorest state in terms of rural poverty, with a so-called below poverty line, or BPL, population of 44.14 million people, which is about 33.3% of the state’s rural population. Bihar is second with a BPL population of 28.42 million people, and Madhya Pradesh third with 16.92 million poor people.West Bengal comes fourth with a BPL population of 16.90 million.

Told that Murshidabad was found to be the poorest district in IndiaWest Bengal‘s finance minister Asim Dasgupta said he was surprised. “I am concerned and would certainly take a close look at the report when it is published,” added Dasgupta.

Rural-urban divide

What is worse, 14 out of West Bengal‘s 18 districts are among the 100 poorest districts in India, despite 30-odd years of Left rule through which the state government had taken steps such as land reforms to alleviate rural poverty.

“Half of India’s rural poor lives in 107 districts… and if you were to draw a straight line (on India’s map) from Kanpur in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, you’d see that rural poverty is very high in the area to the right of it, or the east of the country,” said Ghosh.

The opposite seems to be true for western India, where urban poverty is very high. Suburban Mumbai was found to be the worst in terms of urban poverty. With a BPL population of 1.22 million, suburban Mumbai is home to 1.9% ofIndia‘s 64.2 million urban poor.

“When considering poverty in Suburban Mumbai, you shouldn’t look at the absolute number of poor people alone. It could give you distorted view,” says Ghosh. “What is more important in this case is the percentage of Mumbai’s population which is poor–11.71%, and that isn’t very high.”

Ghosh pointed out that cost of living in Maharashtra is very high, and the so-called poverty line for urban Maharashtra is Rs665.90, which is one of the highest in the country.

Being the financial capital of the country, Mumbai draws a lot of unskilled workers from across India. Though most of them earn more in Mumbai than they did in their villages, they continue to remain poor, explained Ghosh. “They end up living in slums, giving the city one the highest slum populations in the world,” he added.

The ISI study, which also looks at various other factors such as health, housing, education and social infrastructure at large, found conditions in suburban Mumbai “not too bad”, according to Ghosh. “It isn’t the worst, you could say, but not the best either. Yet, it ranks as the poorest urban district in the country because Mumbai is the most populous city in India,” says Ghosh.

Jaipur comes second with a BPL population of 1.15 million people, which is 1.8% of the country’s urban poor. Four districts of Maharashtra – Pune, Thane,Nagpur and Nashik–occupy the third to sixth spots.

Maharashtra is the worst in terms of urban poverty–12 of the 25 poorest districts in India are from it and it is the home to the highest number of urban poor in the country. It has been estimated that 32% of Maharashtra‘s urban population, or about 11.94 million people, are poor.

Uttar Pradesh comes second with a BPL population of 9.76 million, which is 30.12% of the state’s urban population. Madhya Pradesh, with 6 million poor people in urban areas, comes third.

Bidi making

Asked where she learnt to make bidis, the small hand-rolled cigarette made out of tobacco wrapped in a tendu leaf, Supriya Khatun drew a blank. After pondering for a while, the 15-year-old girl replied, “In my mother’s lap.”

The mainstay of the Murshidabad’s economy now is rolling bidis. The industry employs some 1.1 million people in the district, making it the biggest production hub of bidis in the country.

Poverty forces women in Murshidabad’s Jangipur area, which is the parliamentary constituency ofIndia‘s external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, to take up bidi rolling as a profession at a very young age, often at the cost of education.

The government-stipulated minimum wage for bidi workers is Rs41 for every 1,000 bidis rolled. But most workers complain that they earn Rs35 at the most because the balance is kept by the middlemen, who supply the raw materials and have a stranglehold on the trade. “For the amount of labour that we put in, the government-stipulated wage is a pittance. What is more, we don’t even earn that much,” says Najma Bibi, a 20-year-old bidi worker, who, on an average, earns around Rs2,000 a month to support her family.

At least 50% of Murshidabad’s population, or 3-3.5 million people, are dependent on farming for a livelihood. But the yield is low because land holdings are extremely small and irrigation facilities are poor. According to the state government’s records, 95% of farmers in the district own between 0.5-0.8 hectares. What is worse, only 12% of the total cultivable land of 402,295 hectares receives irrigation of any form. The density of population, too, is high in this Muslim-majority district.

According to the central government’s estimates, population density in Murshidabad is as high as 1,102 people per square km as against a national average of 590 people for rural areas.

BBC Documentary: ‘The fall of the Shah’ and its relevance for India of today

February 15, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

 

BBC Documentary: ‘The fall of the Shah’ and its relevance for India of today

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Khomeini revolution, BBC has telecast a documentary: The fall of the Shah. BBC, together with CNN, is the most popular TV channel, that is viewed by English speaking people of India. The chronology of the historical events that brought out a TV covered modern religious revolution, was a first for the modren world. So will be the lessons drawn from the BBC documentary by more aware observers in India. The fast moving developments have so much like the replay of forces that brought out the religious revolution in Iran. The common factor that pulled down Shah after making him wholly dependant and brainwashed to imagine that he was a super power in the region, was the entry of the US and Israeli conspirators into the affairs of the nation. Just like the Shah, our leaders have been fully convinced by the US and Israel that they know India better than Indian would over know.  Just like Americans devising SAVAK in Iran of yester years, India has blindly committed to follow US and Israeli doctrine of brutalization of its own people as the only way to ‘save’ the country. Just like the Shah who was sold most advanced military hardware, and pumped up to feel that the security of the region is his prerogative and his for the asking. Shah’s megalomania completely blurred his common sense judgments. India is being asked to buy US and Israeli defence hardware and the thinking and the need behind the possession and use of these arms, has the same development that were to be one of the prime reason for the downfall of the Shah. When the journalists from the same western countries asked the Shah, why he needed such formidable armaments like a fleet of F-18s, that were not introduced even in the US, the Shah said it is like asking the US and UK why they have such big armies and defence forces. One can easily make out how shallow, Shah’s reasoning was for squandering his oil wealth on military hardware, while his people in village across the country did not have the most basic necessities of life. India with all his back to back high GDP percentages, has yet to get nearly 600 million India out of their abject poverty, where even survival is a life long struggle. All these Tatas, Mittals, Ambanis and Bajajs will not save India, if and when these poor and hungry people cling to any convenient trigger and call it a day.

That trigger too could borrow from the history of Iran. The way Shah was forcing ‘modernization’ on his old country steeped in an age-old culture tied up to an overpowering religion, India’s new wave of modernization is seriously challenging the old morals and cultural conservativeness. Unless the administration is able to moderate the whole face-off between the old and the new, we may be faced with some trigger that will bring fascists to rule the land. India must shun both the US and Israel, get rid with all intelligence and security entanglements with both these ruthless conspirators and depend on its own homegrown intellect to devise ways and means to tackle India’s most intractable problem of poverty. Corruption is working like cancer in the bureaucratic maze of our governance and all public schemes are stuck in paper work. The money is being siphoned off. India should reach out to its people and come out with emergency means to tackle poverty. India’s lopsided progress is creating more heart-burns than any measure of pride in the media hyped super-power hubris. Let our saner thinkers watch the BBC documentary again and again and draw correct lessons from Iranian mistakes to avoid a bloody revolution in India.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

VISIT: http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

   

7 YEARS ON, THEIR PAST IS CATCHING UP – By Stavan Desai – HINDUSTAN TIMES

February 15, 2009
WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY. ITS REMARKABLE HOW DEDICATED INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS HAVE FOUND LINKS TO HELP PIN DOWN THE CULPRITS TO THEIR SCENE OF CRIME THROUGH THEIR PHONE CALL RECORDS!

http://epaper.hindustantimes.com/ArticleImage.aspx?article=10_02_2009_011_013&mode=1