19/02/2012

The Maldives, India and Islam

(1) Question (by The Times of India, Feb. 11): “There have been fears that radical Islamism has been growing in the Maldives and could takeover. How would you address such fears?” Answer (by Mohammed Waheed Hassan, new president of Maldives): “You have to remember we are a 100% Muslim nation. We expect there will be Islamic scholars in government…. Our view is the best way of dealing with Islamist ideology is to engage with them and work with them.” (2) A major headline in The Times of India (Feb. 13) “Rise of Islamism in Maldives a cause of worry for India”. Further, in the main body of the news item, after saying that Islamic forces in the Maldives are so powerful that the ruling elite are powerless before them, deposed president Nasheed had also an understanding with them, it is written that “the new president Mohammed Waheed, in an interview with The Times of India, said that they would work with Islamic groups.” (3) One sentence of a detailed news item in The Hindustan Times (Feb. 8): “Despite close ties, New Delhi had expressed some concerns over the presence of Islamist in Maldives police and army.”

This is the tone of the news items and comments
Since Feb. 7, when the Maldives underwent a change of guard, the news items and comments in the Indian media have gone in this very direction. Newspapers and TV channels are regularly unleashing the propaganda that the Islamic elements in the Maldives have become a big threat to India. They have contacts with Al-Qaida and Taliban. They are mostly Salafi and owe allegiance to the ideology of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The media, in their reports and news analyses, are often referring to government sources. The powers-that-be in India themselves have the same thinking.  Sometimes they indirectly announce their statements and often get it declared in media; particularly in government media. In the night of Feb. 8, at 9.30 p.m., All India Radio was broadcasting a discussion under “Charcha ka Vishay (Topic of Discussion)”. The participants were Ranjeet Kumar, Hindi journalist (convenor); Shashank (former Foreign Secretary); and Mahendra Ved (senior journalist). A major part of their talk consisted of the presence of “Islamists” in the Maldives, on which these educated persons were repeatedly expressing concern. It is especially worth mentioning that they were not hesitating even a bit in mentioning Islam viz. fundamentalist Islam, Wahabi Islam and jihadi Islam, rather Islam itself.

Muslims must have their own standpoint
This attitude of the Government of India and the Indian media is really not unexpected. They have got one more opportunity to draw the attention of America towards it and thereby receive American aid more and more to fight the “Islamic terrorism” in this part of the world. As the matter is between two independent countries, it is the requirement of the “patriotism” of the citizens that they support the policy of their government. But, along with it, as this is an issue related to Islam as well, the name of which is mentioned under the various pretexts and often in a negative way, so Muslim citizens must have their own stand on this crisis, which should be under the real sense of patriotism and in which right and wrong should be termed as they are. And the requirement of true patriotism is that the powers-that-be, who are badly afraid of Islam, should be acquainted with the real teachings of Islam. It should be made clear to them that Islam is a religion of mercy and kindness. And it stands against everything that harms human beings and humanity in any way. Therefore, before saying anything or forging a policy related to Islam, they must study Islam. Can’t a few of the 15-20 crore Muslim population take a firm resolve to do this work?
19/02/12 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf

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