Jobs @ MG
The Language of Hate
By M. Zeyaul Haque
Some Hindi newspapers are crafting a newspeak that
portrays Muslims in an extremely unpleasant colour
the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagaran published an article on its edit page
which was typical of Jagaran-style journalism in terms of its blatant
anti-Muslim stance. The title could be roughly translated as "The
spreading fire of religious hatred". Two points about the article are
worth noting: its use of language in a mischievous Goebelian manner, and
the blatant falsehood of its assertions.
First, its dishonest use of language. Whenever Jagaran has to talk about
some unpleasant feature of religions, like bigotry or communal riot, it
invariably uses the word mazhabi, instead of dharmik, which is the Hindi
synonym for the Urdu word. However, whenever it has to refer to religious
virtues like piety, austerity and compassion, it would invariably write
dharmik or adhyatmik, but never mazhabi. This is the most glaring example
of crafting a language of hate and employing it to malign the
"other". The article under review too talks about mazhabi nafrat
(religious hatred) rather than dharmik baimanasya.
Jagaran has been at it for quite a few years by now. For instance,
whenever it has to talk about some misdeed of a woman, it invariably
refers to her as an aurat, rather than a mahila. The latter word is used
only to describe a woman either in neutral or laudatory terms. Aurat and
mazhabi are only two weapons in a large lexical arsenal that newspapers
like Jagaran have developed over the years to be used in the campaign of
calumny against Muslims. This is part of a larger cultural aggression
mounted by a section of the media.
The article asserts (of course, wrongly) that all over the world terrorist
operations are carried out exclusively by Muslims and, whenever there is a
war or a civil war, either one of the parties or both of them are Muslim.
Needless to say, this is a transparent lie. For instance, Latin American
insurgents are Christian, the LTTE is almost exclusively Hindu, the IRA is
Roman Catholic and Basque separatist fighters are Christian. The writer of
the Jagaran article, Bhanu Pratap Shukla, is an experienced journalist,
and there is no possibility of his not knowing that the terrorists who
killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi belonged to the LTTE, and the
terrorists who killed the last British Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten,
were from the IRA. None of these groups is Muslim.
Despite the noise against Muslims and Islam, the fact remains that Muslims
are still a minority in the business of terrorism. Even the latest U.S.
Department of State list of terrorist organizations has far fewer Muslim
entries than others, contrary to Mr Shuklaís claims.
Historically too, Muslims had no major role to play in the evolution of
terrorism. For instance, some of the earliest terrorists were the Sicaris,
Jewish zealots who fought against Romans after the fall of Masada nearly
2500 years ago. Among the earliest Muslims to be identified as terrorists
were the Assassins (Hashshasheen in Arabic), Ismailites who specialized in
murdering public figures in the early Sunni caliphates. The word zealot
comes from Jewish history, while assassin is merely the anglicized version
of the Arabic Hashshasheen. On the other hand, the early thugs were of
Hindu origin, worshippers of Kali, who cheated and murdered people as an
offering to the goddess. The words thug and thuggery in modern English are
thus of Indian origin. All this goes on to show that terrorism is not the
exclusive intellectual property of Muslims, nor is it an Islamic
invention, as Mr Shukla would have us believe.
That violence is not an Islamic prerogative is evident from a cursory look
at the 20th century history. The two World Wars which together killed,
maimed and dislocated more people than all wars put together in the last
1000 years, was not the handiwork of Muslims. In fact, Islam and Muslims
had no role to play in them, except as victims. Nor were Marxism, Nazism
and Fascism Islamic doctrines. Each of these claimed millions upon
millions of lives.
Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Pol Pot were not Muslims; each one of them
killed far more people than the total number of casualties in the entire
history of Islamís war against non-Muslim adversaries. Even Genghis
Khan, another mass killer, was not a Muslim. Violence has only a tenuous
relationship with Islam, far more tenuous than it has with most other
faiths and political doctrines. Interestingly, all the Mongol mass killers
(including Genghis and Hulagu) were Buddhists, not Muslims. Even Pol
Potís faith is Buddhist.
This is only a brief account of how off the mark the exaggerated claims of
Islamís penchant for violence can be. However, people like Bhanu Pratap
Shukla have already made up their mind and there is no scope for argument.
Of course, he can cite his own set of "facts and arguments". For
that matter, anybody can muster enough "arguments" to put
virtually any faith in the dock. Mutual mud-slinging is one luxury which
has to be avoided like plague. Let us hope newspapers like Dainik Jagaran
and columnists like Mr Shukla focus on improving the lives of their own
constituency rather than wasting their energies on Islam and Muslims. q