Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

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

 

 

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                              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

 Recommend Recommended by 28 Readers

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

 Recommend Recommended by 10 Readers

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

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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.

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38.

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

February 18, 2009 7:56 am

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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46.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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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

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47.

February 18, 2009 8:05 am

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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66.

February 18, 2009 8:58 am

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A great piece of analysis!

— Stephen, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

“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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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

Link

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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Dangers of Bushspeak – By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar – The Times of India, Mumbai

December 10, 2008


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Columnists/S_A_Aiyar_Dangers_of_Bushspeak/articleshow/3803171.cms

SWAMINOMICS

Dangers of Bushspeak

7 Dec 2008, 0016 hrs IST,

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

After the terrorist attack of 26/11, the mood and rhetoric in India are reminiscent of the US after 9/11. As in the US then, outraged Indians swear “never again”. The phrase “war on terror,” invented in the US after 9/11, is now being used widely in India.

This is a dangerous, militaristic mood. It led the US into the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Let it not lead India into a similar misadventure.

Before 9/11, the US suffered terrorist attacks on embassies and other installations abroad. But 9/11 was the first terrorist attack on US soil, and exploded US illusions of impregnability. Americans called it another Pearl Harbour, and the analogy sparked a determination to respond militarily.

Many Indians, while sympathising with the US after 9/11, pointed out that 6,000 feared dead in the World Trade Centre wasn’t a big number compared with 50,000 killed over a decade in Kashmir. The US was getting a small dose of the Islamic terrorism that had long devastated Kashmir, and was over-reacting. The US never equated Kashmiri terrorism with war, and always told India to be calm and not bomb terrorist training camps in Pakistan. But when the US itself got a taste of this at home, it went ballistic, declared it was at war with terrorism, and vowed to bomb and kill all those bad guys.

Cooler heads pointed out that “war on terror” was a meaningless phrase. Terror is simply a tactic used by certain groups, and you cannot wage war against a tactic. You can declare war on an enemy country, but not on an NGO (terrorists are exactly that – non-government organizations). When terrorism arises from an ideology or set of grievances, imaginary or otherwise, killing one bunch of ideologues may simply deepen the grievances and create thousands of fresh terrorists.

This has been demonstrated graphically in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many Indians supported the US invasion of Afghanistan, since the Taliban government bred terrorists who targeted India no less than the US. But initial euphoria in Afghanistan has given way to the sober realization that the US position there today is rather like the Soviet position in the 1980s – it controls the main towns but not the countryside, or the hearts and minds of people. There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before the US invasion, but the invasion created large al-Qaeda cadres, which have now been cut to size but remain a festering sore.

The greatest military superpower has been obliged to recognize the limits to hard power.

Its task has been made difficult in Afghanistan because Pakistan, while pretending to be an ally, has provided tacit support and safe havens to terrorists. Yet the US response cannot be an invasion of Pakistan to extinguish those safe havens. Even if this succeeds militarily, it will deepen the local sense of grievance and create more terrorists.

Indians who accused the US of over-reacting to 9/11 are over-reacting themselves to 26/11. Our media habitually use phrases like ‘war on Mumbai’, ‘war on India’, and ‘war on terror’. Journalists and politicians who cautioned against jingoism in the US after 9/11 are fanning it in India today.

Normally cool-headed people are so agitated that they want to bomb training camps or other targets in Pakistan. After Iraq, surely we know that bombing cannot eradicate terrorism or the extremist mind-set. It will provoke a Pakistani military response, and strengthen the hands of all Pakistanis who support terrorism. It will constitute yet another grievance that extremists will exploit. Let us not repeat the errors of Bush.

Military analysts like K Subrahmanyam believe that elements in Pakistan’s army and ISI may have staged the Mumbai raid to provoke a military response from India, providing an excuse for transferring Pakistani troops from the Afghan border to the Indian one. India must avoid such a trap.

Angry Indians say something must be done. True, but that something happens to be patient diplomacy and international pressure, which will take years to bear fruit. I suspect the Pakistani establishment will tackle terror seriously only after many more of its members suffer Benazir Bhutto’s fate. And even after that, serious Pakistani attempts may achieve no more than what serious Indian attempts have achieved in the Maoist belt of central India.

Ultimately we need to change the mind-set of terrorists, and that may take decades. Some people argue that if India and the US accept Islamic solutions for Kashmir and Palestine, that will end Islamic grievances and the terrorism this breeds. However, many grievances are not legitimate, and many terrorists are oblivious to the grievances of others.

Outraged citizens do not want to be told to take it easy, and to respond to terrorist attacks with just diplomacy. Alas, some problems have no quick or military solutions. Britain had to live with Irish terrorism for almost a century.

In such difficult times, let us avoid Bushspeak and recall an old prayer: Lord, give me the courage to change what I can, the fortitude to bear what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The American Political Theory of Big Bang – By Ghulam Muhammed

November 8, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

 

THE AMERICAN POLITICAL THEORY OF BIG BANG

 

Americans do not believe in nit-picking. Better a hatchet rather than a scalpel. They are, that way different from the old imperialist Great Britain that believed in micros more than the macros. British were not averse to give company to a local dog in blistering heat, when they were in tropics.

 

The big nation moves with Big Bangs.

 

In recent history, there were three big bangs that the political elites used to harness their nation in the name of patriotism to commit for huge sacrifices; in human as well as in material terms.

 

Only last month, a Japanese cabinet minister had to resign for suggesting publicly that US had provoked Japan to commit Pearl Harbor. There are any number of proofs to prove this crime by Americans against there own people, under prodding from conspirators, to join the Second World War.

So Pearl Harbor was the first ‘Big Bang’ that moved men and material to pump up US economy to war footing and provide immense profits to racketeers and industrialists, while blood sacrifices by soldiers could hardly be compensated enough for their families to bear the tragedy of human losses.

 

The Second Big Bang was 9/11. A whole library of material is on record with most convincing facts, that 9/11 was an inside job. Bush and his neo-cons with their New World Order ambitions wrecked the whole world. America’s global prestige was dragged in dirt. Billions were spent on war

misadventure and people of America were saddled with ever increasing debts and the looming threat of history’s most devastating recession.

 

This required the Third Bang. Election of Obama was that Big Bang. With one stroke, US changed from a blood-thirsty warmonger to a nation of democrats rooting for peace of the world. The way Obama has reaped the  world’s goodwill, can never be achieved by any thing less this Big Bang. Now the conspirators are poised to harvest a new crop of exploitation of the world, using the friendly image of Barack Hussein Obama.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

Further comments posted on Pipes article: The enemy has a name

June 21, 2008

FURTHER COMMENTS ON GM POSTING:

 

 

Thank you, Ghulam

 

Reader comment on article: The Enemy Has a Name

in response to reader comment: Two different world views

 

Submitted by Anne Julienne (Australia), Jun 20, 2008 at 18:12

 

 

You’ve expressed the truth as seen by a Muslim in a few well chosen words.

 

To me, as a non-Muslim, your view fails to explain sep 11 and fails to acknowledge that Bush’s wars were a response to that unprovoked attack. Through incidents like the Rushdie novel and the Danish cartoons, we now know that Muslims feel threatened or “subjected to stress and trauma” at the very slightest of slights.

 

We in the West will not continue to tread carefully as if on egg shells. We in the West might be more capable of uniting against Islam than you give us credit for. Good clear statements disclosing the Muslim mentality are useful to us.

 

So, thank you for your comment.

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Comments are screened for relevance, substance, and tone, and in some cases edited, before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome, but not hostile, libelous, or otherwise objectionable statements. Original writing only, please.

 

 

 

GM responds to the comments of Anne Julienne (Australia):

 

Dear Julienne, You are correct when you write that I have completely ignored 9/11.

 

Personally, I with other millions across the globe and across the great divide of communities are yet to be convinced that any organised Muslim group had the capacity to carry out such a scale of terror act and that too on US soil, and without internal help. There are any numbers of discrepancies and the debate on technical level is still on.

 

On a personal basis, I found two events reported while I watched the live telecast of 9/11 attack, that were completely ignored by media and investigating agencies.

 

One: dancing of some Jewish persons on the terrace of a building overlooking the twin towers while the carnage was in progress. Second, the possibility of advance knowledge of the attack by Israeli sources, who were able to caution Jewish people working in different firms in the Twin Towers and make sure they do not report for their duties on that fateful days.

 

As for Bush’s war on terrorism, on the pretext of 9/11, Bush has undertaken so many aggressive steps, that have clearly focused more on controlling and holding territories to exploit them for their resources (IRAQ) or their strategic position on world map (AFGHANISTAN), rather than to address the possible dangers of 9/11.

 

For Bush himself, in fact, 9/11 and even Osama is just a sideshow. So, I should be excused for taking up the lead from Bush over 9/11 and Osama.

 

Your contention: “We in the West might be more capable of uniting against Islam than you give us credit for” — is not tenable in the present context, as Bush had to invade Iraq, without UN, much less other Christian countries’ support for his illegal invasion. Even though the world mourned the death of innocents in 9/11 terror attack, Bush could not convince them to unite against Iraq or Afghanistan, much less against Islam. Media propaganda is just that.

Good clear thinking and good clear actions based on good clear thinking is welcome by all sides in the global conflict scenario.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

 

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com