Issues

United Colours of fundamentalisms

India had hardly recovered from the ghastly terror attack of 13 July, 2011 in Mumbai, that terrorism struck in Norway. In Norway on 22nd July, Friday, around 3.20 PM in the afternoon the high-rise, where the Prime Minister’s office is located in central Oslo, was targeted resulting in blowing out windows and facades of neighbouring buildings; a few hours later a gunman in the uniform of a police officer opened fire on youngsters at a summer camp of ruling Labour Party, in Uloya Island. The twin acts of terror snuffled out 93 innocent lives.

Even before the horror of the act could be registered, the verdict about ‘who did it’ was out, and the usual suspects in acts of terror were named, all around the world, by media pundits and experts. The ‘experts’, ideologically motivated commentators and section of media revolved their discussion around Al Qaeda chief Ayman-al Jawahitri, saying that he was the culprit. It was commented that the Al Qaeda, the dreaded Islamic terrorists have done this. Incidentally Norway is also involved in the war in Afghanistan.

As it turned out the culprit was a Norwegian, Anders Behrig Breivik, a 32 year old Christian farmer who has been part of right wing ideology, a neo Nazi racist, opposed to multiculturalism, Islam; Muslims and immigration of Muslims, seething with anti Muslim sentiments. His blogs mirror his ideology whereby in the name of tradition he opposes the development of European Union and Multiculturalism. Also he profiles Muslims as being supporters of Al Qaeda and so of terrorism. It seemed through this act he was opposing the liberal policies of the Norwegian Prime Minister related to immigration.

Despite this being true, the common perceptions have been manufactured to generate hate for Muslims and Islam by projecting them as terrorists. Whenever the word terrorist is mentioned, the image of a bearded Muslim flashes up. This is mainly due to the machinations of US-CIA through the media. The same hold true for India, the Muslims are projected as terrorists and the perception here is that all terrorists are Muslims. Some commentators go further and say that while Muslims are terrorists due to their religious dogma, those from other religions have political goals. All this is a total distortion of facts. Gettign at the depth of reality, will unearth the role of the US in creating the whole ‘Jihadi terror’ phenomenon, and it is the US again which has played the worst role in doctoring the mass consciousness against Islam and Muslims.

The tragedy of this bomb attack reminds us of various phenomena in society. To begin with the first and major suspect for any terror attack in India and at the global level are on the so called Jihadi groups, thereby the Muslims. By now some of the verses of Koran have been taken out of context and misinterpreted to create Islamophobia. One recalls that the promotion of the right wing Al Qaeda-Taliban was promoted by United States in its goal to throw out Russian armies from Afghanistan, which was occupied by them on the request of the local Communist Government. US planned to turn Russia’s Afghan occupation into its Vietnam, as US had to bite the dust when it had attacked Vietnam.

Since US armies were totally demoralized due to the humiliating defeat in Vietnam, US- CIA planned to set up Madrasas in Pakistan in collusion with the ISI. In these Madrasas the radical version of Islam was taught to young Muslim boys.  The verses of Koran exhorting the Muslims to kill the infidels attacking them, were taken out of context to indoctrinate the young Muslim boys. As a matter of fact these verses were meant for a war situation to protect the Muslims, and as a last resort.  When seen in isolation it seems as if the advice to followers is to kill recklessly, when seen in the context, it is clear that these verses are meant for a war situation and it was a defensive struggle for new converts to Islam.

A special syllabus was developed in Washington to be used in these Madrasas. These Madrasas produced the Al Qaeda breed. Osama, again a US creation was brought in as leader of Al Qaeda and was provided with 8000 million dollars and 7000 tons of armaments. The indoctrination of Al Qaeda-Taliban recruits was aimed to make them join anti Russian forces to defeat the Russian army.

It is after 9/11 2001 that US media popularized the term ‘Islamic terrorism’, it was a deliberate propaganda to demonize Islam and Muslims to prepare the ground to attack Afghanistan and then Iraq. In India the likes of Osama, Swami Dayanand Pandey; Assemanand and Company, were bred and brought up in the organizations with the goal of Hindu Rashtra and these terror suspects were determined to demonstrate their ‘bravery’ by following the dictum of ‘Bomb for Bomb’. The association of Islam and Muslims with terrorism became firm in popular perception and Indian investigation agencies have been recklessly arresting Muslim youth, even when the blasts have taken place in front of Mosques and other places of Muslim congregation. Even after 13/7 2011Mumbai attack, similar theories have been put out by the agencies and one hopes that these authorities will start delinking their biases from professionalism.

As far as Europe-US are concerned we have seen in the past also that there have been terrorists and terror groups which have indulged in acts of terror. Irish Republican Army declared only a few years ago that they would not indulge in acts of terror. Timothy McWay bombed Oklahoma in 1995 killing nearly 165 people. The current rise of intolerant, right wing ideology in Europe and partly all over the World has a lot to do with the global changes, post the rise of US as the sole superpower. US has been dictating to the world, for the sake of its economic interests, particularly those related to control over oil resources.  The attack in Norway shows very interestingly as to how the economic problems, which are plaguing the World, are being diverted to issues related to xenophobic, intolerant view of society. The Norwegian terrorist is not an isolated person voicing these views. In Europe there are various trends which promote hatred for Islam and Muslims and oppose the immigration of Muslims.

Swedish daily Expo claims that Anders is a part of group called Nordisk, which is a Neo Nazi group and focuses on political terrorism. He has leaning towards Christian Fundamentalism. Since at the moment Breivik’s fundamentalist ideas are focused against Islam-Muslims, he finds himself close to the Hindutva fundamentalism, no wonder as RSS led Hindutva fundamentalism is currently targeting Muslims in particular. Breivik may be unaware that these Hindu fundamentalists are also on a spree to kill and intimidate the Christians in Adivasi areas. Perse Breivik’s Manifesto seems to have derived a lot of inspiration form the RSS Combine. He appreciates the work done by Hindutva groups of targeting Islam and Muslims. Breivik has quoted from the Hindutva ideologues, for his criticism of Islam and Muslims. No wonder B.P.Singhal of VHP, a RSS affiliate said the Breivik’s cause is correct but the method is wrong.

Terror trends are very parallel all over the World, here a person inspired by Christian Fundamentalism is taking to terror, in Afghanistan-Pakistan Al Qaeda type of groups are fed on the diet of Islamic fundamentalism and the likes of Aseemanand and Pragya Singh Thakur base themselves on Hindu Fundamentalism. The culture of liberal values and ideology of struggle for dignity and rights of people is being substituted by the fundamentalist ideas all around. Fundamentalism generates Hate against the ‘other’ religious communities leading to heinous crimes, witnessed in different parts of the World, particularly in South Asia and occasionally one’s like this in Europe.

There is a deeper unity in the ideologies of all fundamentalisms. Globally there are two major factors promoting Fundamentalism in the name of this or that religion. One, when a privileged section of society feels threatened by the rise of assertion for equality by the deprived classes, women included. Two, when a superpower promotes it proactively to use the products of the fundamentalist mind set for its economic-political goals. These trends come up in the wake of social changes where the weaker sections of society are trying to come up and assert their rights. In such situations the entrenched social groups resort to politics in the language of religion. This in turn co-opts and uses the marginalizing section of people, those getting marginalized due to social processes, and unleashes an identity politics which ensures the status quo. At the superficial level they target the people of other religions. At the deeper level this fundamentalist related political ideologies are opposed to the values of Democracy, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. They inherently believe in birth based hierarchy of caste-class and gender. This is where Breivik will appreciate what Hindu Fundamentalists are doing in India. India must have been mentioned by him because it is here that ideological sophistry of Hindutva elements against Islam-Muslims is so aggressive and visible from last few decades.

The tragedy is, one fundamentalism feeds on another. Promotion of Al Qaeda and accompanying radical version of Islam is used as a pretext by other fundamentalist factions to strengthen them. The Norway tragedy should wake the World up to the reality of this dastardly economic-political reason for terrorism. Religion should be for moral values, terrorism is a political phenomenon. Like in Norway the economic crisis is leading to the rise of intolerant views. It is time we address the deeper political issues, we should work for global democratic system, we should also aim for a global peace movement so that this aberration in the understanding about terrorism is overcome, so that we can really engage with the deeper issues related to the deprivations of society. This is what will help us eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism.(Issues in Secular Politics)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2011 on page no. 13

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