In numerous earlier posts, I have been scathing in my attack against Islamic extremism. Piqued by the unabashed critique, some have counseled a gentler tone so as to not alienate “moderates”. I have previously debunked the validity of that proposition and hence I will not being doing that here. Still others have urged me to consider that Islam is not the ONLY violent game in town and that there are others who deserve similar condemnation.
Although I fully agree that Islamic militancy is not the only plague of our times, the subject of those posts were specifically Islamic terrorism / militancy and hence I did not feel the need to dilute the subject matter of my post by including references to its virulent brethren. However, this time I would like to show that fascism is NOT the sole preserve of any one religion or any one community. Religious chauvinism has a common formula that is adopted and exercised by different practitioners. In doing so, they tweak the superficial elements (color: Green v/s Saffron or name: Lashkar v/s Sena) – but the basic constructs are *exactly* the same.
Toward that end I have assembled a set of pictures and I invite you to join me in exploring the similarities.
Street Thuggery and violence against fellow-man.
Have you noticed that the Muslim Taliban and Hindu Taliban share an irrepressible impulse to *impose* their world-view. They are not interested in persuading you – they are ONLY interested in coercing and subjugating you. Hence, they resort to violence and that too public violence – specifically as a tool for intimidation.
In the pictures above, the Hamas is expressing its political disagreement in a refined and composed manner. The Taliban are also conducting a spirited dialog with fellow-muslims with the assistance of a whip.
On the other side, you see the fine gentlemen of the MNS / Shiv-Sena extending the same level of courtesy and decorum to their fellow-Indians.
As you can see , they share the same traits. After all, they are cousins!
Historical Desecration and Cultural Vandalism.
The Hindu and Muslim Taliban have an insatiable desire to demonstrate their piety through destruction. They are intoxicated by the notion that the only way to demonstrate their seriousness about any issue is to unleash barbaric attacks upon historical structures and monuments.
In keeping with this lofty tradition, the Taliban of Afghanistan destroyed the magnificent statues of Buddha which not only pre-date Afghanistan but also Islam itself.
The RSS, Bajrang Dal and its siblings did the same to the Babri Masjid. Their reasons were also the same. Both claimed that the presence of the monument was an affront to their religious sentiments and pride and they had to correct a historic wrong.
Recently, the Bajrang Dal has been discovering new depths by torching churches in Orissa and raping the nuns there (just like Muhammad-of-Ghazni). Their piety is so genuine and so intense that they do not have time to notice that even Ravan – the epitome of evil – did not inflict upon Sita what these Ram-devotees have inflicted upon the nuns in Orissa. Jai-Shri-Ram!!
Violence against women and their subjugation
Somehow, all religions eventually seem to agree on one thing – keeping the woman subjugated and repressed. The methods may vary superficially – but the end goal is ALWAYS the same. The muslims claim that Islamic tradition of Burqa “protects” the woman. They assert that mutilating the genitals of young girls (as young as 8-10 years) is necessary to keep them chaste and thus pure – just like good-ol’-Allah prescribed.
The self-appointed custodians of Hindu culture take a slightly different tack. They point to the dozens of female deities and insist that Hinduism *glorifies* the woman and puts her on a pedestal – to be revered. However, once they are done with their verbal diarrhea, they quickly return the the primary item on the agenda – i.e. sternly policing womens’ activities and unleashing humiliating retribution upon transgressors.
The gallant and intrepid warriors of the Ram-Sena physically attacked women. My my…such breathtaking valor!! And why, you ask? Well… of course, to er… keep them… umm- on a pedestal (which turns out to be a footstool).
The Shiv-Sena frowns upon the practice of expressing amorous sentiments on Valentines day. They find it “antithetical to Indian customs and traditions”. However, they seem to be unmoved by the plight of women that are harassed, teased, molested and often brutalized on a daily basis in the trains, buses, streets and corners of the city. That does not seem to provoke their sense of outrage. But Valentines Day – hey we can’t have that!
Violence is a substitute for ideas.
The Holy Beards of the saffron and green brigades agree on yet another thing: If you have nothing substantive to say, then say it loudly, aggressively and accompany it with violence. See the shining stars of Hindutva and Islamiyat below. You could easily exchange the saffron and green flags and the substance would be *exactly* the same. As a matter of fact, “Jai-Shri-Ram” is just another way of saying “Allah-o-Akbar“. “Lashkar-e-Tayebba” translates to “Army of God” . So does “Ram-Sena“!. By pre-pending or appending ‘God’ to their wicked enterprise, they arrogate divine sanction for their depravity.
Indoctrination & Corruption of Youth
Despite the claim that they are custodians of divine knowledge and celestial truths, the Hindu and Muslim Taliban seem to share the same anxieties about the longevity of their cause.
Hence, they enlist and recruit young and impressionable youth (even kids) and poison their minds from early on. Raised in an atmosphere of pious belligerence, the youth soon adopt the same corrupt mindset of the old and decaying demagogue.
Besides, someone has to do the back-breaking job of burning, rioting, raping and pillaging while the old fossils rest their aching backs.
Perpetrators and Propagandists
Both the Hindu and the Muslim Taliban purport to deriving their inspiration from their version of a “puritanical past”. They brandish an imaginary “golden period” either in history or mythology and stir up religious passions.
By claiming to promote divine mandates, they usurp legitimacy and use that to enslave the rest of us. Here are some common elements of their formula:
- Talk loftily about a bygone era. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar invoke prophet Mohammed and Sallahuddin. The RSS, Bajrang Dal, Shiv-Sena and its ilk invoke Ram and Shivaji and Rana Pratap.
- Glorify those periods. The muslims talk about the Caliphate. The Hindus talk about Ram-Rajya. The muslims talk about the heroism of their warriors who spread Islam right into Spain. The Hindus talk about Rana Pratap and Shivaji – which are undoubtedly true heroes – but the main reason they co-opt these giants of history is to usurp their historical legacy. If Rana Pratap or Shivaji were to return to life, they would send this dastardly crew to the gallows.
- Highlight current problems and blame someone else for it. Osama and Mullah Omar lament about the muslim world being in decay and blames the west and other Kafirs for everything. Shiv-sena laments about the plight of the Marathi person and blames outsiders (Non-Marathi residents of Mumbai). The RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal complains about the suppression of the Hindu person and blames it on the Muslims who have been pandered to by the Congress party.
- Call to (violent) action: Having drawn up a romanticized version of the past and having shed tears about the current malaise and having found someone to pin the blame on, both the Hindu and Muslim Taliban issue stirring calls to action. And that action is:
The Afghan / Pakistani Taliban bans TV, music and enforces beards, Burqa. The Shiv-Sena and Ram-Sena demands a ban on Valentines day, couples holding hands…. The Bajrang Dal would like to ban Christianity itself…
On a concluding note:
The point of this post is that the Hindu right-wing organizations and the Muslim Taliban-esque organizations are two sides of the same coin. We don’t have to choose one or the other. We can reject the whole currency as counterfeit. To be fair however, Hindu right-wing organizations, repugnant as they are, do not constitute the same level of threat to world politics as do Muslim organizations. This is simply because their scope of operations is limited (so far) to India. However, this does not make their ideology any less pernicious or toxic. In my opinion, they represent two points on the same continuum.
In other words, if allowed to proceed unchecked and unmolested, Hindutva will grow to be just as menacing and blood-thirsty as the Islamic-Jihad because both share the same intellectual DNA.
Therefore, in my opinion, the best way for ordinary citizens to curtail their extremism is by criticizing them ruthlessly and making them a laughing stock. Let us mock and ridicule them so intensely and comprehensively that they become a political liability and thus never grow to attain the levels of infamy reached by Islamic militancy.