Anti-Muslim Approach Must Be Checked!

Paradoxically, each time a Muslim is labelled as a “terrorist” in any part of the world, questions, doubts, speculations and also accusations start being raised practically all over the world. An impression is created as if the entire Muslim community has some role to play in that particular incident. Of course, each and every individual of any community and group cannot be responsible for nurturing this prejudiced and biased approach towards Muslims. But, even if less than one percent entertain and encourage such a negative approach, it can have an extremely serious impact on the society as a whole.

Besides, the role played by the same in distorting the image of Muslims and also of Islam cannot be ignored. After all, who is to be blamed for totally unjustified terms, with no credentials and which cannot from any angle be viewed as actual definitions and/or explanations of what Islam as well as the Muslim identity really stand for? This includes the rampant use of terms such as Islamic terrorism, Islamist, radical Islamist, conservative Muslim, extremist Muslim and so forth. It may be noted, there prevails the trend to use these terms on purpose with a negative approach towards Islam and Muslims. If such a negative approach did not exist, why would the whole community and Islam as a religion be held responsible for a crime committed by an individual and/or a few individuals?

It is indeed a tragedy that Muslims are made to suffer for what they are not responsible for. And this trend prevails primarily on the strength of biased approach held towards them. What else does Dadri incident indicate? The same may be said about other incidents when Muslims have been struck at for no fault of theirs. If there did not prevail a prejudice against them, communal riots and various forms of communal behaviour targeting Muslims would not have continued.

Understandably, there still remains no dearth of secular, non-Muslim Indians criticising these incidents and taking steps to help Muslims. And this cycle has continued for decades. While secular Indians must be appreciated for their commendable role in favour of targeted Muslims, it cannot be ignored that this is not enough. This does provide some temporary relief to affected Muslims and also a voice to their grievances, which, however, cannot be viewed as signalling an end to their problems. '

Relief is not provided in all communal cases and also not to all the targeted Muslims. Punishment is not levied against all agents of communalism. Please note, on one hand there is no denying that Muslims remain victims for no fault of theirs. On the other, agents responsible for the same are not punished in all the cases. To a degree, this trend, letting the criminals go scot free, is responsible for encouraging them and others holding a similar biased approach against Muslims to continue indulgence in communal behaviour. This trend has also considerably encouraged certain politicians to try and spread communal venom against Muslims through their speeches and fuelling aggressive behaviour targeting them in hope of gaining majority votes to win elections. As a result, the same anti-Muslim malaise is further encouraged.

At yet another level, similar bias is also responsible for quite a few misconceptions held about Islam and Muslims. These include stereotyped notions held about divorce, Muslims having four wives, women being treated as secondary citizens and so forth. Little importance is given to the fact that such problems have a greater linkage with socio-economic values practiced by citizens. For instance, there is hardly any society where women are not considered inferior to men. Comparatively, religion has accorded greater importance to economic and social rights of Muslim women. Yet, the assumption prevails as if all Muslim women are abused. Further, their sufferings are linked with dictates of religion. Who should be blamed for nurturing negative views about Muslims, from regarding them as terrorists, targeting them communally, holding wrong notions about their approach towards marriage, women’s status and so forth?

Sadly, Muslims are likely to remain targeted for these and similar reasons while a biased approach prevails against them. Even if a small percentage holds a negative approach, it can play a major role in manufacturing news against the whole community. How can it be forgotten that on numerous occasions Muslims have been falsely labelled as “terrorists” and arrested or even gunned down by officers confident that these move would win them some reward and promotion. Their confidence rested not on any evidence, but the religious identity of those labelled as terrorists. Similarly, while Muslims are not to be totally blamed for the negative approach that is held against them, they have to give countless explanations to defeat the same. That is they are not terrorists, men in their families marry only once, women are accorded respected and so forth. '

Isn’t it time greater importance was given to taking strong action against bias/prejudice prevalent against Muslims? Till effective action is not taken to prevent such behaviour, Muslims are likely to remain at the receiving end, that too for no fault of theirs!   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2016 on page no. 11

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