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Saturday , December 14 2019

Tolerance waning in India

Ahmad-Al-Sarraf

For centuries the Indians were the most forgiving people in the world, with each other and with the stranger despite their strict class system which rejects the lower classes. India was a homeland for those who have no homeland regardless of race, religion or ethnicity and did not force anyone to convert to Hinduism as a condition for acceptance to living among them.

They provided shelter to the Jews after the collapse of their structure as the sources said. The Christians of the Levant also resorted to India to escape the oppression of the Romans.

The Zoroastrians of Iran chose India as a shelter when the Muslims occupied Persia. Baha’is and Kuwaitis, like dozens of other nationalities, had their share of India’s cake of generosity and tolerance. For example, the Zoroastrians do not bury their dead like Muslims, nor burn them like Hindus, but leave their bodies on the upper edges of high towers for eagles to devour them and this is a religious ritual that is not permitted by any country in the world except in India.

The relative tolerance would have been possible to continue to exist forever, had it not been for what had been expected. People are changing and attitudes are changing as sectarian, religious and ethnic violence increased especially between the larger Muslim minority and the Hindu majority.

The latter had no choice but to continue to stick to tolerance, as has often been the case but such attitude did not last for long. Hard-line Hindu politicians have taken advantage of the situation for electoral purposes, thus violence increased with the support of groups and their terrorist organizations, both local and foreign.

This caused huge losses in lives and property and resulted in more than one situation reaching the edge of the war between the nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan. The peak of tension began in 1993 when large numbers of Hindus demolished the ancient Babri Masjid (mosque), India’s oldest under the pretext it was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple.

All this religious violence and counter-violence was often among the Hindus and the Muslim minority who make up about 14% of the population, paved the way for Narendra Modi president of the Hindu nationalist Gujarat Party to take power in 2014 and gaining an overwhelming victory in the last elections that had not occurred before.

The suicide attack carried out by a radical group based in Pakistan which led to the killing of 40 Indian soldiers, in the Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14 played a major role in achieving this victory. I love India, people, customs, food, music and art and it pains me to see the gradual deterioration often because of the unjustified violence committed by foreign extremist Muslim religious groups against the regime.

The situation had become a source of concern for many of its top politicians, recalling a similar situation in India before the separation of Pakistan, when tens of millions of people from the two sides were killed. India’s government at the center has recently begun to change some aspects of the state as an attempt to blur the achievements of Indian Muslims, renaming many cities and streets with Islamic names to Hinduism, and the change reached some textbooks to diminish the importance of Muslim contributions to India.

The Indian Prime Minister’s appetite for change will increase with the mandate he won in the last election. There is a fear that Muslims may turn into second-class citizens over time, especially since they do not have a political party that represents them. What happens in India takes place in many countries, when extremist Islamic groups commit various acts of terrorism under the pretext of defending Islam and Muslims and then quit suddenly leaving behind hatred more than in the past without achieving any benefit to the Muslims, a majority or minority.

We saw it in India and saw it in Syria and elsewhere. What applies to the Muslims of India applies to all Muslim minorities in the countries of the world, and Europe in particular, who should avoid winning the enmity of the majority. The homelands always expand for all.

By Ahmad alsarraf

e-mail: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

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