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Posted Online on Friday 2, September 2005 11:20 IST

Stop demonizing: an open letter to The Times of India 

The Milli Gazette (online edition)


To: The Editor, The Times of India

Your editorial headline: Stop Talibising (TOI, Aug 20, 2005), is the worst example of media sensationalizing and demonizing of institutions of Islam; a religion which is part and parcel of Indian polity for more than a millennium. 

The recent ferocious and continuous targeting of Indian Muslims over their perfectly legitimate and constitutional right to practice their 14 century old religion, points to a new conspiracy to destabilize the country for reasons unknown. No week passes by when the media, both electronic and print, does not dutifully comes out by projecting one or other development in Muslim society with shrieking headlines and convoluted analyses, to enrage and infuriate India’s peaceful Muslim population. Yesterday it was madarasas, today it is shariat court, tomorrow it will be fatwas on burqas or cow slaughter. The scheduling of media targeting on Islam and Indian Muslims is all worked up and bulging over into a self-sustaining propaganda machine. The general thrust of the campaign appears to take its cue from the Western neo-con blue-print to extend their version of clash of civilizations to hereto distant shores that they have chosen to convert into the new front-line state in their quest to resurrect another world war by building trenches in the periphery of the 21st century’s new bogey of resurgent China, threatening the Western’s unilateralist and hegemonical claims on the new resurgent economies. As a ‘leader’ on the Indian journalist scene, Times of India, bears heavy responsibility for not only keeping abreast of the wider perspective changes in the world, but preparing itself to keep its readership informed of all such debilitating moves by forces, which are not necessarily working in India’s national interest, however sweet sounding may their friendly gestures may appear to be. The term Taliban itself is the demonized version of Islam that US propaganda relentlessly promoted, once Taliban leader, Mulla Omar refused UNOCAL the permission to build their pipeline through the newly liberated Afghanistan, in order to preserve its independence. India and its media in particular have no need to feed off the enticing hands of the neo-con policy makers and end up jeopardizing their own national interest, peace and stability. The week after week resurrection of bogey of Islam while the presence of 150 million Muslims within the territory of Nehruvian India, that had denied the US/UK colonizers any entry during the last fifty years of its independence, has been noted by President Bush himself. One is at a loss if President Bush was praising India, for having such a huge population of Muslims, that had participated robustly in the democratic process to make India, world’s largest working democracy or he and his neo-con partners were relishing the idea of one more target practice area from where the Muslim ‘threat’ perception for his country’s avowed designs on India, could be sanitized. By demonizing Muslims and their institutions at this critical juncture of a new economic dawn, India’s media are becoming willing tools to rendering India open to US hegemonical stranglehold that is something not hidden from the editors of India’s leading National English newspapers and its owners. Playing politics with Indian Muslims in these times is bound to be most unproductive and render Muslims open to exploitation by other international misadventurers. Probably that too is the deliberate design of the destabilizers of India. Times of India should show leadership and guide others out of the pitfalls of Muslim-hunting and Muslim-bashing. The stakes are too high to blindly follow the lead of a few shortsighted motivated propagandists and sully the otherwise peaceful communal atmosphere that has been prevailing in the country after the change of guard at the center. It is entirely within the ambit of responsible journalism to participate in maintaining peace and stability in the country. One hopes Times of India will take note and give Indian journalism constructive and positive direction in order to avoid the dangers of coming changeovers and building up India as a model nation that allows its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious people to progress without getting involved in intra-communal divisions that will empower outsiders to intervene and rule over us.

Muslims have much to contribute to India’s future provided they are given a fair chance.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai 
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