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The Funny, the unfunny, and the bizarre
By M. Zeyaul Haque

Some of our responses to the Sept.11 events and their aftermath come under the above three categories

M. Zeyaul HaqueSeptember 11 incidents have made people behave in strange ways. The queer response of one of my friends, who is a BJP-RSS supporter and staunch Hindutvavadi, to these incidents is an indicator of a wider trend. Seeing images of the carnage on TV he became hysteric, and instead of showing concern and sympathy for the US, he started shouting abuses at distant America for not giving a nice beating to Muslims. After he calmed down, I asked him why was he so angry with the victim. He said, "because those bastards have not been beating up Muslims at all."

By September 12 my friend was a little cheerful, reassured as he was that Uncle Sam was hurt enough and peeved enough to give the Muslims a good thrashing, cowboy-style, or Rambo-style, so to say. I was a little relieved to see my friend happy, after all.
September 13 saw my friend in a euphoric state: he was beside himself with joy. I asked him why he was so excited. "You see, America is such a great country, such a powerful country. Its anger has been aroused finally, and that means it is going to be the end of Islam and Muslims forever. Good riddance, thank God."

I was grateful to God for having given my friend such joy after so many years. I asked him in half ernest, "but that means I, with my family and relatives would be finished off." To that he responded quickly, "come on yaar, you are not a Muslim. You are a friend. Nobody dare come near you." I trust my friendís feelings for me, yet I cannot figure out how I am "not a Muslim." I realised that there was something terribly amiss with our understanding of things around us.

By September 14, my friend had convinced himself that it was really going to be the end of Islam and Muslims. He had fished out his dog-eared copy of the forgery called Prophesies of Nastrodamus. Somewhere in the book he found an equivocating remark (this fraudulent book is based on equivocation only) which said that the "twin brothers would be attacked, and that would start the Third World War." He virtually shoved the ignoble rag into my face, which I refused to read.

"Ok, relax! I take it and read. But tell me what does it mean?" I asked.

"You thick-skulled mullah. Donít you know the twin brothers are none other than the two WTC towers destroyed on Sep. 11, and that is going to unleash the Third World War against Muslims?" he gushed.

I had begun to see my friendís point. Still I was not convinced with his logic, because I could not figure out which Muslim countries were going to fight in the Third World War of my friendís hallucinations. I could not find even one Muslim country mad enough to fight America and its allies. Not even Qaddafiís Libya and Asad Juniorís Syria. Not even Saddamís Iraq, much less Khatamiís Iran. Certainly not Pakistan. I told my friend that I was afraid his dream was not going to come true, and there would not be a Third World War.

My assessment inflamed my friendís passions once again. "You are a fool. You donít understand the Muslim psyche at all," he declared. As usual, I decided to lose an argument than to lose a friend.

Next day, my friend was back to his depressed status. Extremely dejected and aggrieved, as if he had been bereaved. It is distressing to see a fellow journalist who is such a simple-hearted man, being so dejected.

"You seem to be right, yaar. We would not have a Third World War," he said softly. Which meant that Islam would possibly survive Uncle Samís rage. That was the most depressing prospect for my friend. In his simplicity, he thinks that the Third World War would selectively kill Muslims, leaving others alone.

All this gave me reason to read the media a little closely, and I was amazed to discover that there were quite a few others who had been waiting for an armageddon between the Cross and the Crescent, and were frustrated to see that it was not actually happening. These are the people who have taken Prof. Huntingtonís bullshit about the clash of civilisations to their heart. One set of people (VHP leaders) declared right after the bookís publication (Clash of Civilisations and the Making of a New World Order) that in the coming war between Islam and the West, VHP and other Sangh groups would be on the side of the West. My friend, brought up on a steady dose of anti-Muslim hocus pocus, takes these things as gospel of truth.

My friendís mood lifted a little bit with the first wave of US air attacks on Afghanistan. The much awaited moment had finally come. We could see some of it in our media. My friend was no longer disconsolate. Still he was not really happy. The real happiness would come only after the Third World War, which does not show any signs of coming too soon. If only it came, my friend would be really happy. And the end of Islam would be real nirvana. But that is something even I, his best friend, cannot bring him. Others like him too would have to wait. Probably till the Day of Judgement.
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