Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Demand For Telangana Intensifies

By Media Scan Desk
Telangana issue is back on the boil. The demand for a separate state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh has gained momentum. Several days of the assembly’s monsoon session were lost to the issue. The Congress state government has been pressurized to come up with an immediate acceptable solution. Resolution For Telangana Demanded The Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, which has spearheaded the movement since 2001, demanded that a resolution to create Telangana be passed in the assembly. Such a possibility, however, was ruled out by the state Chief Minister Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy. The CM said that majority members in the assembly belong to Seemandhra and though resolution is passed, it is sure to be defeated. Mr. Reddy said that it was up to the centre to decide over the issue and they have to consider many issues. The interest of the state and the country are to be kept in mind before taking any decision as the government has the responsibility of protecting the interest of the people, he said adding that nobody could influence the centre to take a decision to divide the state. Telangana March To press for their demands, the pro-Telangana parties and groups will be holding a Telangana March on September 30. A similar event last year resulted in violence; protestors desecrated and vandalised the statues of cultural icons on Necklace Road. For long the demand for separate state of Telangana is made. But the government did not budge to it. This time, Telangana leaders say, it will be a fight to the finish. The agreement of the Congress over splitting Andhra, however, will lead to intensified demands by the separatist movements throughout India. More Political Support For Telangana Interestingly, the positions of political parties have also changed in the last few months, giving a fillip to the Telangana demand. Now, almost all the non-Congress parties are advocating for Telangana. The Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP’s) N. Chandrababu Naidu has finally decided to support the Telangana demand after numerous flip-flops. The YSR Congress Party, floated by Jaganmohan Reddy, which initially stood for a united Andhra but has now come around. The growing influence of BJP in parts of central Telangana is also working up the sentiment for a separate state again. The BJP has again promised a separate Telangana if NDA is voted to power. The senior leader L.K. Advani recently said that the party will include the promise to create Telangana in its Lok Sabha manifesto and would fulfil it as soon as possible. He said that the NDA regime which created Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand as part of fulfilling its poll promise would have created Telangana too if it had been included in the manifesto in the 1999 election. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has even offered to merge with the Congress if a separate Telangana state is declared. The Congress is bewildered. It could be a chance for the Congress to lay claim to power in the proposed state and make up for the losses in the rest of Andhra Pradesh, where it is expected to perform badly in the 2014 elections. Nevertheless, the party legislators and MPs from the coastal districts and Rayalaseema are threatening to resign if the state is bifurcated. All Party Meet On The Issue According to the reports, the Congress at centre is preparing for an all party meeting on the issue. It summoned the Governor ESL Narasimhan and the Chief Minister Reddy for discussions on the vexatious issue of Statehood for Telangana. This followed a meeting of Sonia Gandhi with the party core committee members on the issue. Earlier, 13 cabinet ministers from Telangana had demanded in a letter to Gandhi an immediate solution to the problem. The decision should favour and respect the sentiments of the four crore people of the region, they had urged. Drawing Attention of International Community The decision of the Telangana Joint Action Committee to hold the march on September 30 is said to be an attempt to draw the international attention to the issue. Just a day before the march Hyderabad hosts the much-awaited UN conference on biodiversity on September, set to be attended by 4,000 delegates from 180 countries all over the world. Apart from the Chief Minister, the Governor also personally urged TJAC to postpone the march to some other day. TJAC convener Kodanda Ram said that there was no question of rethinking the date of the march. He, however, said that the “march will be peaceful and it will be a reflection of sentiments of the Telangana people”. Kodanda Ram alleged that some sections may try and foment trouble during the march. TJAC leaders have said that only way of putting off the march was that the Centre should make a positive move on the Telangana issue immediately. Telangana Movement Weakening? Political analysts, however, feel that Telangana sentiment has actually fizzled out and that the Telangana March on September 30 is a desperate bid to corner the ruling Congress on the eve of the international bio-diversity meet. They point to the bickering between TJAC and TRS, both keen to gain the upper hand. In the process, the Telangana movement has lost steam and direction. The TRS wants total control over the agitation while TJAC is chalking out its own course. TRS President K. Chandrasekhar Rao is apparently unhappy with the TJAC for cornering all the credit for leading the Telangana agitation last year. So when the TJAC announced that it would relaunch the agitation with the Telangana March, KCR reportedly tried to scuttle such plans by announcing in public that he had been assured by the Centre that a separate Telangana state would be declared “very soon”, and if that did not happen then there would be total anarchy in Telangana. The TJAC’s convenor, M. Kodandaram, a political science professor at Osmania University and a mentor for the thousands of Telangana students, and KCR do not see eye to eye anymore. The demise of Telangana ideologue K. Jayashankar last June and the decline of balladeer G. Vittal Rao, popularly known as Gaddar, as well as last year’s agitation “fatigue” have slowed down the movement. (With inputs from Sreenivas Janyala’s report “Telangana Reloaded” in The Indian Express).

Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Action

By A. Hameed Yousuf
The freedom of expression exercised in a mindless way by some individuals prompted some others to practice their freedom of action that resulted in the death of at least 14 people, including four American Embassy staffs, in Benghazi, Libya. This, however, is not the only damage done due to the insane action of the individuals of making a film mocking Islam and its prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Before September 11 incident of Libya, the protestors in Egypt had scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag and burned it. Later, people exercised their freedom of action throughout the world attacking American missions. Dozens of lives were lost and properties damaged. The world, while supporting the freedom of expression—blasphemous film— strongly condemned the freedom of action—demonstrations—and termed it an act of violence. If a person hurts someone physically he is duly condemned but the person who hurts others emotionally is surprisingly appreciated as he is deemed to be exercising his freedom of expression! Much has been talked about the reactionary protests and the men behind them but there are few who condemned the men behind the senseless provocative film. We have to better think about advocating for freedom of expression and creativity if it does not complete unless we ridicule any entity or religion. Freedom of expression should not be a free license to pass off abusive remarks about anyone you want. We do not tolerate if a passerby kicks us saying he enjoys freedom of action. Freedom, whatever, cannot be absolute. With everyone enjoying absolute freedom we cannot expect a responsible society. It is illogical to hope that someone holds on patience while others are hell bent on annoying him. If we think that provocation in the name of freedom of expression is not followed by reaction ours are senseless expectations. Nevertheless, in the case of provocative film, with the exception of unheard few the majority tends to support it. It is the men behind the film, though, who hold the responsibility for the violent reactions all over the world. They started the drama and now they have gone in hiding due to the perceived threat from individuals. Who produced the film titled “Innocence of Muslims” is still not confirmed, though. According to one account, some Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian immigrant from Egypt living in America, made this film. This account goes in contrast to the reports which say the producer is an Israeli-American real estate developer. The film shot in the US was shown at a small cinema in Hollywood at the end of June. Two trailers, originally in English, were released on YouTube way back in the first week of July, 2012. Then clips were dubbed in Arabic by Coptic Christian Morris Sadek—an Egyptian-American lawyer and a vocal opponent of Islam—to bring it to the attention of Arabic speaking Muslim world. Interestingly Sadek’s Egyptian citizenship had previously been revoked for promoting calls for an attack on Egypt. It is reported that on September 6, 2012, Sadek sent out mails to journalists containing the link to the 14-minute version of the film “Innocence of Muslims”. On September 8, 2012, a two-minute excerpt was shown on Al-Nas TV, an Egyptian Islamist television station. And on September 11 protests were held in Egypt against the film which soon spread to other nations. Reportedly Sadek was subjected to a shoeing attack by four Coptic women in Washington D.C., who shouted that "If anything happens to a Christian in Egypt, you'll be the reason". The Copts make up a sizeable Christian minority in Egypt. Sadek is the head of the anti-Islamic National American Coptic Assembly. Coptic Christian leaders in the Washington region and across the United States, however, denounced the video as highly offensive and inflammatory, and they expressed concerns that it could further inflame Muslim sentiment against Copts in Egypt. In a statement, the senior Coptic Orthodox bishop in Los Angeles said the church “strongly rejects dragging the respectable Copts of the diaspora” into the controversy over the film. “It is not the Christian way to respond to hatred with hate.” The film is a chain of activities carried out by those aiming at inciting religious sentiments of Muslims for various reasons. While Muslims refrain from saying bad words about any religion or the personalities related to it, anti-Islam elements off and on come up with what outrages Muslims. The Holy Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, his character and his mission is often targeted. The people who do this wrongly believe that by doing so they will downgrade the personality of Muhammad and keep people away from Islam. The film, among others, portrays Muhammad as fool, a philanderer, a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser. These baseless blames are meant only to irritate the Muslim community. Pastor Terry Jones, notoriously known for his mischief of burning Qur’an, has his share in promoting the film. While the President Barack Obama said that the United States rejects denigration of religious beliefs he made it clear that there is no justification for violence. In a statement after U.S. ambassador to Libya Christ Steven was killed along with three other Americans Mr. Obama said, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.” He, however, insisted that it would not threaten relations with Libya's new government. "... And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people,” said Obama. Prior to the attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo had also issued a statement denouncing the contents of the film. It had condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims”. However, Obama’s challenger in the presidential elections Republican Mitt Romney said the timing of the statement from the U.S. embassy made Obama look weak as protesters were attacking U.S. missions. Romney said it was "disgraceful" to be seen to be apologizing for American values of free speech. Here lies the real problem. If you encourage the mischief mongers in the guise of protecting freedom of expression you are more likely to encounter the elements exercising freedom of action. Reportedly, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, taking an unusual step telephoned the radical Florida Christian pastor, Terry Jones, and asked him to withdraw his support for the film. Jones in the past had caused violent reactions throughout the Muslim world through his burn Qur’an campaign. He is roaming freely. The United States is unable to control its citizens. A handful of individuals are defaming the whole of America and the American government is a helpless spectator.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It’s Green On Blue In Afghanistan

By Junaid Maseeh
There have been increasing incidents of men in Afghan security forces uniform attacking foreign soldiers in Afghanistan. This has given rise to mistrust between the NATO forces and the Afghans they are training. As many as four US soldiers were killed on September 16 by Afghans dressed in police uniforms. The incident took place at the district headquarter in the Mizan district of Zabul province. It is the latest fatal “insider” attack; the new threat faced by the allied forces in the country. Only on the day before, two British soldiers had died in a similar attack in the southern province of Helmand. NATO refers to these incidents as “green on blue” attacks wherein Afghans—police, soldiers or individuals wearing the green uniforms—attack the blue-clad coalition forces. These attacks are a cause of great worry as regards the security of the allied forces and that of long term security of Afghanistan. If the same Afghan police personnel and soldiers, who are trained by and supposedly work hand in hand with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), turn their guns on allied troops then the men in blue have every reason to worry about their security. The international forces are training Afghans for taking the charge of the country after withdrawal of the NATO forces by 2014. It will be a clear defeat of the international community led by the United States which attacked Afghanistan to liberate it from Taliban, if the country again goes in the hand of the Islamist fundamentalists. This, unfortunately, is what many of the analysts fear in the view of the ground realities in Afghanistan. Even after more than a decade of war the foreign troops are unable to weaken the Taliban. They strike at will whenever they want. Their claim of having infiltrated the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), which is trained by NATO, is not baseless. These very infiltrators are believed to be the inside attackers. Taliban have taken responsibility for many of the "green on blue" attacks. Afghan and NATO officials, however, say that about 75 per cent of the attacks are not connected to the Taliban and are mostly triggered by misunderstandings and cultural differences among the Afghans and their Western allies. Factors Leading To Insider Attacks In fact there are multiple reasons behind increase in inside attacks targeting especially the US troops. After withdrawing the 33,000 troops ordered into the fight as part of a military surge three years ago the US has 68,000 forces on the ground in Afghanistan. One of the factors that might be urging the Afghan security forces to go against the alien troops is said to be personal grievances. Some of them might have lost their dearest and nearest ones into NATO strikes. In their views the foreign troops are murderers of their kith and kin. Participating in a TV debate over insider attacks Brigadier General Gunter Katz, NATO forces spokesperson, said, “The main cause for those incidents were personal grievances. Knowing this, we still have confidence in our Afghan partners, the troops out there are still willing to work with them, they have the trust that we all are working together to achieve the same objective.” There are also the reports that the western troops do not treat the Afghan security forces the way they expect. In a conversation with a member of the ANSF in the southern province of Kandahar, Wazhma Frogh, executive director of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security, says the soldier told her: “We didn’t have water to drink or food to eat and we were fighting on the front lines. The American forces behind us, who weren’t on the front lines, would have the best food and bottles of water in front of them.” Besides, like a majority of the Afghan society, many inside the security forces are unhappy with the current state of affairs in the country. It has been twelve years since Taliban were ousted. Still there is widespread anarchy in the country. Civilians are killed both in militant and NATO strikes. Out of frustration the Afghan security forces may pull the trigger against the western troops whom many of them hold responsible for the current state of affairs in the country. Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analyst Network, told that the expectations of soldiers and average citizens may have been too high but general frustration that the past decade “didn’t bring peace ... didn’t bring stability” to the country, permeates across the ANSF ranks. Barring Taliban, a large section of the Afghans holds foreign troops responsible for anarchy in Afghanistan. “The claim ... [that] each of these events is an isolated incident ... simply doesn't fly .... It may be that everyone of those attackers had some personal grievance [but] that doesn't explain the trends. It doesn't take into account the fact that beyond the Taliban, there is massive opposition throughout Afghanistan to the presence of foreign forces occupying their country,” said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Ending the US war in Afghanistan: A primer. The feeling of being occupied is common in Afghans. Talking to Al Jazeera news channel Omaid Sharifi, a transition coordination consultant, said that regardless of who is actually responsible for Afghanistan's problems, there is "a lot of propaganda" by the Taliban and government opponents to "paint a negative image of this government and international forces". Though the international community claims that it is there to establish peace in Afghanistan a major section of Afghans see them as mere occupiers. In fact, the night-time raids and drone attacks, of which civilians have to bear the brunt, have lent credential to their perception. Abul Rahim, a shopkeeper in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, says that night-time raids into Afghan houses by foreign forces are one cause of local resentment. “We are traditional...Maintaining safety and authority over our own households is everything for us.” Rahim says such “insults” against the local population leave a lasting mark on the psyche of Afghan troops. According to Iqbal Hussain Gajri, a university student in Kabul, the NATO and US soldiers “have created the opportunity for these green-on- blue incidents". “They did many things insulting our religious beliefs, like burning the Quran.” The incident of burning the Qur’an at the Bagram airbase had led not only to a series of angry protests, but also to one of the year’s first insider attacks when two US advisers were shot dead by an Afghan “ believed ” to have been a police employee, in a heavily guarded area of the Ministry of Interior, only accessible through a numerical combination. The members of Afghan security forces come out of these common Afghans who are not necessarily Taliban sympathisers but do see the western forces as occupiers and insensitive to their religious sentiments. However, the big reason behind increase in insider attacks may be successful infiltration of Taliban in the rank of ANSF. This possibility cannot be denied. It is hard to detect the loyalty of any aspirant while recruiting as the Afghans are same in appearance and Taliban are but common Afghans. According to the reports, ANSF has increased recruitment rates by more than 60,000 in 2012. Taliban can take advantage of the situation and infiltrate in the ANSF. Some days back Afghanistan's defence ministry issued a statement saying that it had arrested or sacked hundreds of Afghan soldiers for suspected links to the Taliban or other anti-state fighters. However, Aimal Faizi, the spokesman of Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that these killings were the result of “infiltration by foreign spy agencies into Afghan security forces”. Reaction of the Coalition Forces The international community is taking the new trend of rogue Afghan soldiers and police turning their guns on the foreign troops very seriously. According to the reports, the American Forces Press Service, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said the Afghan government needs to take the problem as seriously as do US commanders and officials. "We're all seized with (the) problem," Dempsey was quoted as saying. "You can't whitewash it. We can't convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change." According to Mr. Dempsey, the current situation is worrisome for both the foreign troops and the Afghan security forces. "But we've got to make sure our Afghan counterparts are as seized about it as we are...We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign." United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said that he views rogue Afghan troops and police turning their guns on allied forces attacks as the "last gasp" of a Taliban insurgency that has not been able to regain lost ground. Afghans To Be Left On Mercy Of Taliban? The insider attackers target mainly US soldiers. These attacks have come at a time when the NATO-led forces are preparing to leave and hand over security responsibility to the Afghan army and police, with the withdrawal process due to be completed by 2014. NATO troops have been in the country since the US-led invasion in October 2001. By 2003 the US secretary of defence claimed that "major combat" had ended. But a decade later the number of the NATO-led force had risen to 150,000 with no significant let up in the level of violence. By 2014, however, they will be leaving Afghanistan. The question remains how they will be successful in establishing peace within the remaining two years or so while they could not do this in ten years? Will the Afghans who had supported the coalition forces be left on the mercy of Taliban? If ANSF has been infiltrated by Taliban, will the insurgents dominate Afghanistan security establishment after NATO turns the security operations over to Afghan forces?

Innocence Of Muslims: Voices Of Sanity And Reason Needed

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed
Till these lines going to the press, 30 Muslims have lost their lives in protests against the absurd film Innocence of Muslims. As a devout Muslim myself, I plead with Muslims all over the world that they must, at any cost, not lose their lives and leave the matter to God , today and even after as they’ll always be, till the world lives, be hurt like that. Undoubtedly, it is a stupid film clip put on YouTube and translated into Arabic that has, obviously triggered heartburn and violence. It’s not the first time that the Prophet Mohammed and Islam have been demeaned. Prophet had himself prophesied that Islam will be put down and he will be debased, however, Muslims must never react to that. Best to ignore such issues that they die their natural death rather than being framed. Muslims should not allow themselves to be exploited by radical and reactionary groups to ferment anti-Western feelings. The problem with us Muslims is that without having read the holy Quran, without having truly followed the Prophet and Islam, we are ready to lay or take lives if someone is critical. We forget that both Islam and the Prophet invite dissent. That’s how it has spread through the Sufi saints. Mark Twain quite genuinely once wrote, “It is by the grace of God that in our country, we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the prudence never to use them.” Muslims should not react but respond patiently depicting tolerance and sabr (patience), two of the umpteen positive aspects of Islam in spite of the fact that the manner in which the film was made, gave credence to the suggestion that the point of this exercise was not defending freedom of expression but offending Muslims. Blasphemy is common place as it’s a global fact. Christians have become accustomed to artists’ offending their religious symbols. They can protest — cut off public funding but the right of the individual to say or depict offensive messages or symbols is not denied. M. F. Hussain, the famed Indian artist drew a nude pose of deity Saraswati but no death sentence was announced, rather Hindus tolerated and more than that — ignored the best treatment to such things. No protest took or no death sentence was announced to Hussain! Let’s be objective. The non-Muslims ask about the community’s response regarding another blasphemy that occurred on September 11, 2001 when fanatics murdered thousands of innocents. “So where were the Muslim protests and boycotts of Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan after that horrifying event? Since 9/11, mosques have been bombed in Iraq and Pakistan by terrorists in the name of jehad. Where were the protests condemning attacks on holiest of shrines?” questions Andrew Sullivan in Time. This is a common grudge that is often heard by non-Muslims whenever there’s a terrorist attack on innocents. Nevertheless, this doesn’t justify the demonizing of the Prophet as two wrongs never make a right. The film, Innocence of Muslims is harmful as it tends to misinform, mislead, generalize and characterize about the Prophet and Muslims on the whole as violent and sexually pervert (as had also been in the case of Danish cartoons). Both sides including the makers of the said film disparaging Prophet Mohammed and reacting Muslims have exaggerated showing not clash of civilizations but fundamentalisms and orthodoxies. If it’s a fact that Prophet Mohammed’s picture is strictly prohibited, Muslims must open heartedly understand that there is an old tradition in the secular Western society to make fun of everything. Besides, Prophet himself has borne such attacks throughout rather sportingly when he propagated Islam. Not only this, he had strictly refused his followers to be violent if he were demeaned or attacked. He asked them to be tolerant and patient. Simultaneously the West too should be sensible not to insult Prophet. The community must introspect as to what’s lacking in their attitude that time and again the Muslims in India and globally, are at pangs the way the media ill portrays them pertaining to issues like — Danish cartoons, triple talaq, family planning, jehad, position of women, Vande Mataram, Muslim identity etc. Truth is that the problem lies with us as we are not able to explain to them comprehensively and lucidly the concepts of Islam that are all astoundingly modern and practicable. When we don’t educate ourselves about Islam, how can we instruct others? Muslims should articulate their response to these provocations and outline a peaceful and intellectual course of action to be undertaken in protest of this blasphemy. To react emotionally is excessive. Islam never asks to react to the extent that one lays down one’s life. Sanctity of life must be above every issue be it Babri mosque, Taslima, Rushdie, cartoons, a blasphemous film or any other issue. We have to calm down. Moreover, in the Quran, it has clearly been mentioned that there will always be non-believers trying to off track the ummah but it is not for the Muslims to take revenge or even react but to leave it to Allah. At the same time, secular fundamentalism and orthodoxy too must be reined in that we see in some Western societies. France, supposedly the champion of freedom of expression, by prohibiting the hijab (veil), wearing a turban, skull cap or applying a bindi (decorative spot applied on forehead by Hindu women), has joined hands with what it castigates — zealous jehad. Is this French jehad? The range of reactions to the film among Muslims and non-Muslims simultaneously served as a reminder of the gaping wedge that still exists between the West and much of the Islamic world. This gap should be lessened as much as possible. What is of paramount importance is that along with the right to expression is also attached the duty of not to ignore others’ rights. This applies as much to Jyllands-Posten as to the protesters who are burning and trampling US flags. It’s on record that Muslims have never portrayed Jesus or any other deity like that as Islam asks its followers to respects all faiths. It has been seen that time and again, the Western media has been cajoling and provoking Muslims on such issues. The film disgracing the Prophet, hurt not only the religious sentiments of Muslims but the soul of freedom of expression, fraternity, secularism and civil society. In the given situation, a moderate Muslim is pushed to the fringes. If he speaks up for the protestors, he would be branded as a fundamentalist and if he sides with the freedom of expression, he would be declared a heretic by a fatwa or more so, done to death. The film seems to be a part of the conspiracy to malign Islam and Muslims as they are on a fast track of anti-terrorism movement. Moreover after the innovation of websites and other communicative organs, since Islam happens to be the most propagated and popular religion in the Western world, diatribes like this have been common to undermine the faith. Prophet Mohammed himself used to be very calm and composed in such situations. He never criticized people but through magnanimity, a trait of his character, he used to win his opponents’ hearts. He always advised people cater to the voice of sanity. He was beset with enemies for most of his missionary life but he faced all persecution and tortures with a smiling face, and never complained; he carried out his duties undeterred. But despite that I am completely against banning of these newspapers. Muslims have the right not to read these newspapers but they don’t need to shut them down and we certainly don’t need to indulge in arson and kill people. The film, despite knowing the seriousness and consequences of the subject of deprecating the prophet, wanted to provoke a reaction. That reaction has been provoked. But along with the right to speech should also be clubbed the right to conscience as all the adherents of various faiths have an unwritten consensus to mutually respect each other’s faith.

Prime Minister Admonishes Media

By A Hameed Yousuf
Being a democracy India gives freedom to the media. Rather, the media is considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy. With this freedom come many responsibilities which the media cannot ignore. In India, which is home to various cultures and religions, media is supposed to promote co-existence and tolerance. In the case of failing to do so, the media will be demolishing the very structure of democracy which it is expected to support. It is worrisome that a section of the media, both electronic and print, tends to ignore this responsibility. In some of the cases, it even takes a stand with the elements who openly denounce cosmopolitanism of Indian society. Surprisingly the likes of Narendra Modi and L. K. Advani, best known for their divisive politics, have their supporters in the media. Similar is the case with some minority community leaders who enjoy the patronage of some media houses. Besides this, the approach of the media over some issues is sowing the seeds of hatred among Indian communities. This is true especially in the case of terrorism. After media bashing of anyone accused of terrorism, the person and his family face social boycott. Though he is acquitted as innocent later, the hatred towards him in the hearts of people is hard to remove. In an attempt to sensationalize a simple case, the media in fact tears apart the Indian society. Recently addressing a gathering of Kerala Union of Working Journalists the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that media should avoid the desire to be sensational and exercise restraint. According to him, it will help prevent the division of society and country. “The desire to be sensational should be avoided even though it is very tempting sometimes. Restraint should be exercised so that nothing that divides our society and country is written, broadcast or telecast,” he said. Singh’s advice to the media came while referring to the recent violence in Assam and its reverberations in other parts of the country, especially in South, which saw exodus of thousands of north-easterners back to their home states. In fact, the media has a very important role to play in promoting greater communal harmony and inter-group and inter-community dialogue. It is so that the Prime Minister emphasised that media should be constantly vigilant and work continuously towards this cause. “Freedom for multiple, often opposing, viewpoints to co-exist is one of the defining characteristics of our society and polity. An independent and responsible media is a pre-requisite for sustaining such a society and polity,” he said adding, “...We are proud that freedom of expression is a constitutional guarantee in India. The media in our country is not just a reliable barometer of public opinion; it is also the conscience-keeper of our nation.” Mr. Singh also urged the media to be “fair, objective and balanced” in its reporting and opinion. The media should promote optimism among its audience. This could be done through more focus on positive reporting. It would be laudable if the media carries the reports of development activities. Mr. Manmohan Singh praised the Kerala press for its development journalism. To act upon the suggestions by the Prime Minister is not only in the interest of the country but also of the media. Sane people are fed up with the negativity found in media reporting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Al-Hilal Celebrates 100TH Year

Among the older publications during the long fight for freedom, Maulana Azad’s Al-Hilal has made great contributions. It is a pity that the present generation of Indians is almost ignorant about this whistle blower journal. July 13TH 2012, marked the 100TH year of launch of Al-Hilal, the Urdu weekly journal published by veteran freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. It is upsetting that the day passed without many of us even realizing that it was the 100TH birth anniversary of Al-Hilal. Started in 1912, Al-Hilal was not just a weekly journal of the likes we see today. It was not supposed to be a tool of accumulating wealth. Instead it was launched for a mission: to invite Muslims to become a practical example of Islamic teachings in particular and to prepare Indians mentally for fighting against the British imperialism in general. At a time when there was a tendency among people of repute to enslave their thoughts and propagate to common men to live under slavery, for some honours and financial & political interests Maulana Azad did not sell his self to British powers. Lamenting the writers who long for donations and gifts from wealthy people and accept it under various pretences Maulana Azad wrote that such people had better quit journalism. He says if they remain in journalism they should put them on auction to be bought as “useful editor” by prosperous people. Before launching Al-Hilal Maulana worked with various publications but quit them as he could not agree with their policies. During the time, however, he gained experience in the field and understood the complexities and niceties of journalism. He also learnt that journalism is not merely about informing people about day-to-day happenings. He believed that journalism could be used for a larger purpose. Maulana realized that journalism had power to shake the foundation of British Raj in India as well as it could effectively bridge Hindu Muslim gap. According to Maulana, the academic and ideological articles not only create awareness among people but also give a positive and constructive direction to their thoughts. Al-Hilal served as a platform from where Maulana experimented all these aspects of journalism. He ventured into journalism in 1899 with starting a magazine “Nairang-e-Aalam” which unfortunately stopped after six issues. In 1900 he edited “Al-Misbah” which also stopped publishing after some days. Then he contributed some articles for “Makhzan”. In 1901 he joined “Ahsan-ul-Akhbar” and in 1902 he edited the prose part of “Khadang-e-Nazar” Lucknow. It was the time when important magazines of the country published his write ups. On November 20, 1903 Maulana started yet another journal “Lisaan-e-Sidq”. Then he joined “An-Nadwa” and became known as a respectable writer all over India. In 1906 he was appointed editor of “Al-Wakeel” published from Amritsar. And in July 1908 he joined Kolkata newspaper “Dar-us-Saltanat” as its editor. Then in 1912 he launched his own weekly Al-Hilal. Writes Abdul Wasey, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi that Maulana started Al-Hilal on 13TH July 1912 in Kolkata. However, he had sketched its details six years ago. “The main aim behind establishment of Al-Hilal was freedom from British colonialism which would be achieved through Hindu-Muslim unity. Maulana Azad believed that if there were any party that would challenge the existence of Muslims most, it was none but British rule. He advised Muslims to shake hands with non-Muslim brethren of India to fight the menace. In this context he found in the agreement of Prophet Muhammad with pagans a good example,” says Wasey. “If Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi got light from Gita to blow the spirit of freedom among majority brethren, Maulana Azad referred to Qur’anic teachings to inspire Muslims. They all told Indians that in the traditions of every religion freedom, equality and justice occupy prominent place. So, it was imperative upon them to raise voice collectively against imperialism,” he adds. Al-Hilal would openly attack British policies while at the same time exploring the challenges facing common people. It talked about Indian nationalism and encouraged young into fighting for independence and Hindu-Muslim unity. Al-Hilal discussed the problems an Indian faced in political life and showed the way out. Among other topics it also focused on Muslims’ social issues. Through serious articles it nurtured people’s thought and boldly presented the religious education as a solution to problems. So acceptable was the journal that people would wait for its next publication. Speaking in a programme held in Lucknow to celebrate the 100TH year of Al-Hilal Malik Zada Manzoor, renowned litterateur and critic, said, “Al-Hilal in journalism is like a minaret of light. Through Al-Hilal, Maulana Azad not only created awareness among people but also inspired them to fight for the freedom of India. It covered both national and international issues. The chapter of freedom struggle would be incomplete sans mention of Al-Hilal.” Al-Hilal founded a new pattern in journalism. Besides inspiring its readers for freedom fighting Al-Hilal covered topics related to politics, the society, literature and religion. It introduced a new dimension to Urdu journalism; translation of useful material into Urdu. Al-Hilal would publish news with photos about Middle East, the struggle of mujahideen in Africa and Balkan war. At the time Urdu media did not publish foreign news on this pattern. Through investigative reporting he tried go down in the depth any issue. Al-Hilal, however, was banned in 1914. With the onset of World War I, the British stiffened censorship and restrictions on political activity. So, Azad's Al-Hilal was banned under the Press Act. Its last issue was published on 18TH November 1914. On November 12TH 1915 Maulana Azad started a new journal, Al-Balagh. It was in fact an extension of Al-Hilal. This weekly too supported for nationalist causes and communal unity. In the meantime, he became active in his support for the Khilafat agitation to protect the position of the Sultan of Ottoman Turkey, who was the caliph for Muslims worldwide. Azad took this opportunity to energise Indian Muslims and achieve major political and social reform through the struggle. With his popularity increasing across India, the government outlawed Azad's second publication under the Defence of India Regulations Act and arrested him. Al-Balagh was published only for six months before being closed on 3RD April 1916. In 1927, again there was an effort to revive Al-Hilal. But Maulana Azad had less involvement with it; he only shared its ownership and the editor was Abdur Razzaq Maleehabadi. Maulana contributed very little to it. So the real period of Al-Hilal journalism spans from 1912 to 1914. Maulana’s article published over this period of present him as a great journalist. On September 1913 when a bond of Rs. 2,000 was sought from Al-Hilal under Press Act, Maulana wrote extensively about freedom of expression and explained what the freedom of press is. These thoughts of Maulana about freedom of expression gradually changed into the foundation of Indian Press Association. On October 2, 1913 a meeting was held in Indian Association Hall, Calcutta under the presidency of Surendra Benerjee. So, a case of bond became the cause behind establishment of a strong institution to protect the freedom of press. In short, through Al-Hilal Maulana wanted to free Muslims from inferiority complex and bring them into the mainstream. He tried to replace the disappointment and fear among Muslims post 1857 with expectations of a promising future. He extended the course of journalism which was limited to just reporting to an effective tool to shape ideology. Maulana was against the partition of India. He always exerted efforts for Hindu-Muslim unity. One of the main aims of Al-Hilal was to promote unity among Hindus and Muslims. Today, the section of the media that plots fissures among Indians on religious grounds should borrow the tolerance spirit of Al-Hilal in terms of striving for unity among Indians. By A. Hameed Yousuf (With inputs from two Urdu articles by Prof Abdul Wasey and Dr. Umair Manzar.)

Has the RSS Put Aside Hindutva?

With the changing time the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has also changed itself. Materialism has affected the sincerity of this organization too, points out the writer. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded by Maharashtra’s famous Brahmin Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925. The foundation was laid when the sun of British Empire seemed to be setting. At that time the question as to whom the British would hand over the reins of India was being asked. The effort to restore the Mughal Empire in 1857 was sent in exile to Rangoon where it slept forever. The basic features of Gandhi’s Congress too were not evident. In this situation some planned to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra after freedom. They were the people who like Hitler’s Nazi party believed in supremacy of Aryans over other communities. Their symbol too was that of the Nazi’s: Swastika. Then the slogan “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan” was invented that defines itself. Interestingly none of the three words has its origin in Sanskrit or any other Indian language. They are Urdu words and are borrowed in Urdu from Arabic. These words are still used in Arabic dictionaries. The word Hind relates to black or dark brown. Like in India black or brown skinned babies are named Shyam, Shyama or Rajni, in Arabia they are named Hind, Hinda or Laila. So, Hind and Hanadi are still popular names among Arabs. In fact, this could be a topic of research whether RSS founders knew they were Arabic words or they had simply imagined that many would not realize it. Anyway, RSS came into existence and started working under the philosophy that is today known as Hindutva. After its involvement in Gandhi’s murder it was impossible for RSS to transform into a political organization. It confined itself to a cultural organization. After many years of independence Shyam Prasad Mukherjee resigned from Nehru cabinet and floated Jan Sangh Party. RSS volunteers joined the party in folks. Jan Sangh undoubtedly was a political party but it was greatly influenced by the RSS philosophy “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan”. Jan Sangh traversed a long journey to become Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP, despite its claims of being a public party, could never detach itself from Hindutva philosophy. Its main philosophy remained unchanged. Change began when under veteran leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee a coalition government was formed in centre. After assuming power it dawned upon BJP leaders that to stay in power and win elections they needed wealth more than popularity and high moral values. This was the beginning of game. Late Pramod Mahajan emerged as its most expert player. In this article, however, we do not intend to analyze change in the BJP. Instead, we want to unveil the secret that this trend is not limited to BJP. The circumstances suggest that this change has engulfed also RSS. This has been revealed not by any anti-RSS political leader or journalist. Rather it was revealed by Anand Moonje in an interview to an English weekly. Anand is grandson of DR. B.S. Moonje, who is among the founding members of Hindu Mahasabha. Anand also disclosed that this change to the RSS was introduced by very late Pramod Mahajan. Mahajan was a known RSS member and dear to Sangh. Before that, RSS would be an organization of the volunteers leading simple life away from worldly pleasure. They would wear khaki chaddi, white shirt & black cap and carried a stick in their hands. Most of them did not even marry. There was common perception about Swayamsevaks that they did dream of Hindu Raj but they did not long for wealth or power. Even those who opposed their philosophy would appreciate their simple life. Changes occurred when the BJP ascended to rule in many states and then in the centre. At this point, the RSS started penetrating its men in the government hoping that it would not let the BJP governments deviate from the path of Hindutva. But after testing power, the mouth taste of the volunteers also changed. Pramod Mahajan told the Swayamsevaks that philosophy and rules aside, there could be no work without money. RSS was indeed an inflectional organization but it was not a wealthy. It had great influence over bureaucracy and a reference to RSS would do in favour of the aspirants. But when multi-national companies flooded India the volunteers lost interest in becoming a Swayamsevak and wielding lathi in encroaching sun. They though it to be a wastage of time. Now, the youth did not look for government jobs. They preferred jobs in multi-national corporations. According to an estimate, during the last ten years enrolment for RSS declined by 42%. By the time RSS, however, had spread its network to a large area. There it required money. As Anand Moonje would put it, this problem was solved by Pramod Mahajan. Then everyone could see the change. The present scenario is that a leader as sincere and devote to Hindutva philosophy as Lal Krishna Advani is ignored, the faithful Swayamsevak like Sanjay Joshi is sidelined and bounties rain on Narendra Modi. Because Modi has power and he has control over large resources of wealth. This is despite that Modi does not care for RSS leaders. One more example in this context is that of Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. The relation of Shettar with illegal mining mafia is an open secret. Yet, RSS helped him to become CM saying that he is an old Swayamsevak. Old Swayamsevaks say that the BJP had a reason not to always abide by the Hindutva philosophy. According to the BJP leaders, they have to collaborate with the political parties that do not believe in Hindutva philosophy because they have to run NDA in the centre. But the reason why RSS is putting aside its philosophy is beyond perception. The Hindutva was its main aim. One of reasons may be that RSS is now bereft of the likes of Nanaji Deshmukh who spent his entire life in social service, who never ever knocked the door of power and who during his last days too continued working for public welfare from an Ashram in Gorakhpur. Today, those running RSS are not that committed nor are they averse to woman, wealth and power. Add to this the fact that unlike in the earlier days the devout and sincere Swayamsevaks are discouraged. The example of Sanjay Joshi is before us. On Modi’s wish he was sacked from the BJP and humiliated. RSS did not do anything except a light agitation. Perhaps, gone are the days when RSS would challenge ‘disobedient’ ones like Modi. As a result, the oral claim by the RSS that it still abides by the commitment to establish Hindu Rashtra is not convincing for many. A common perception has emerged that now RSS is not an organization of Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Sudarshan, but it is an organization of Swayamsevaks who have succumbed to worldly pleasures. By Hasan Kamal hasankamal100@gmail.com

The Muslim Convention Of JD(S)

In the view of the Karnataka assembly elections due next year the Janata Dal (Secular) held a Muslim Convention in Bangalore. As apparent from its name the convention was organized to woo the Muslim community. It was for the first time that a political party has organized a convention for a certain community. This politically correct move is absolutely incorrect when we see that the fabric of Indian society is secular. Holding of conventions in the name of religion should better be left with the non-political leaders of the respective community. A political party is representative of all communities hence it does not suit to see it practicing discrimination. The stated aim of the convention among others was creating awareness among Muslims about their underrepresentation in government and various job sectors while at the same time seeking an effective remedy for it. This initiative was taken by a party which allegedly played politics to defeat a Muslim candidate in the state Legislative Council elections held in June. As of now among the total 26 MLAs from JD(S) there is only one Muslim face. The issues raised in the Convention by JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda, its state chief H. D. Kumaraswamy and its leader B. Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan are ground realities. Muslims are backward educationally, economically and socially and in proportion to their population have less representation in various sectors. But the professed commitment of the Janata Dal (Secular) towards solving the issues remains doubted. The party has the credit to facilitate 4% reservations for Muslims in Karnataka. But now everything is not as is being portrayed in the party. Ex-MLC of the party Abdul Azeem who recently quit the party has labelled serious allegations against Kumaraswamy. According to Azeem, Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Zameer conspired to defeat Mr. Saradgi fielded by the Congress in the MLC elections. Mr. Azeem was very active for the cause of the minorities and the poor section of the society. A former police officer Azeem would immediately consult the respective management authorities whenever there was a communal disturbance. When his tenure as MLC ended this year the JD(S) did not nominate him for the second time. Mr. Azeem has alleged that there is no discipline in the party and that he was continuously ignored by Kumaraswamy who did not like the emergence of a disciplined and honest Muslim leader. One of the unstated motives of the Muslim Convention was to pacify the anger of the community which did not like Mr. Azeem being replaced by any other candidate. Azeem’s successor Syed Mudeer Aga is not believed to be as active for the cause of the community as was Azeem. Aga, reportedly was nominated only after JD(S) learned that he was trying to contest for assembly polls on a Congress ticket. Muslims should not be so gullible as to be fooled by promises made in a convention. Kumaraswamy has promised to field 15 to 20 candidates in the next assembly polls which in proportion to Muslims’ 12% population would be less if JD(S) contested on all 224 seats. This, however, will be a decent number provided the Muslim candidates are not fielded in the constituencies where there are little hopes of JD(S) victory. are not fielded in the constituencies where there are little hopes of JD(S) victory.

Media And Sexual Exploitation Of Women

The mainstream media should be praised over its campaign for females’ rights. In the past civilizations women would be treated as lesser human beings, the source of sins. So, it is of course a great achievement that we have not only started considering women as much human as men but also trying to give them equal rights and opportunities in day-to-day life. It is hoped that we will not end up making women a source of sexual satisfaction to be used and thrown when it loses charm. In this context, the role of media cannot be ignored. So crazy is the media when it comes to rights of women and providing security—it should be considered why only women are in need of security against sexual exploitation—to them that it does not even care what message it is conveying and how. Few days ago, the Indian wife of a French Consulate official Pascal Mazurier accused her husband of raping their young daughter for years. This is a serious allegation. The media duly condemned it. Pascal denied the charges of his wife and maintained that he could not have done this. However, in the meantime the media used the words like “demon father” and “child rapist” to describe Pascal. It even gave prominent place to the news that one activist protesting against the rape slapped Pascal. Not to take a stand for Mr. Pascal, but it should be accepted that an accused is innocent as long as his guilt is not proved through legal process. But the media accustomed to disgrace any one it wants went uncontrolled so much so that the wife, Suja Jones Mazurier, had to write to the media demanding to be fair to her husband. According to news appeared in The Hindu she appealed to the media to not use “harsh adjectives” such as “demon/monster father” while referring to Pascal. In a letter, Suja asked: “Can you imagine what my children will go through when they grow up and read such words describing their own father?” She said she hopes the trauma faced by her family “will not be converted into a race issue by any of your journalists or the Indian or French public”. She also said that it pained her to read harsh words against Pascal. “I am the complainant in this case but I still love my husband and it is very difficult for me to read such words in the press.” She was saddened to read that someone slapped her husband when he was being arrested. In another incident related to women the media exhibited its craziness overemphasizing some points while completely ignoring some others. On July 12, the leaders of some 36 clans gathered in Asara village of West U.P. to ponder upon how to check the cases of females’ sexual exploitation. There they decided that women under 40—the age after which sexual desires of females almost vanishes and they do not have any charm to lustful men—should not visit the market unescorted, should not use personal mobile phones and when out of their homes should cover their faces. Besides, they sought a complete ban on love marriages, restriction on boys from taking photograph of girls on mobile phone –to check its misuse—and restriction on using ear phones while walking or driving, because it can lead to accident. They also decided to punish the boys found guilty of eve teasing. The decision was taken after a consensus was reached among those present in the meeting and it was ostensibly to safeguard young girls and women from “teasing” and keep them safe from “roadside Romeos”. The panchayat, as reported in the media, was called after growing incidents of teasing in the village market and some cases of teenage girls eloping with boys. When this incident was known to the media it was reported as Taliban-inspired diktat to suppress women and their freedom. It presented it as if the elder male Jats have treated their women like the Greek and European civilizations would do some time ago. Reacting to the diktat the union home minister P. Chidambaram quite clearly said that “these kind of diktats by khap panchayats, fatwas, dress codes, according to me, they have no place in a democratic society.” He also asked UP government to ensure that such "illegal" orders were not enforced. On the other hand Uttar Pradesh Minister Mohd Azam Khan said that it is an internal matter of the concerned society. According to him, people have freedom to express their views but the government will act in case there is any violation of law. "It is not a fatwa. If people sitting in common village say something is not a diktat...Anyone can say anything....We have freedom of speech and how can you prevent from them from this, but if any force is used or it comes in the way of the law of the land then for that there is the government and there is law." Besides some other organizations the All India Jat Arakshan Samiti (AIJAS) have also supported the ban with its President Yashpal Malik slamming Mr. P Chidambaram for calling khap panchayat and their decisions undemocratic. He alleged that a section of media is painting khap panchayats in bad light. “We are also opposed to dowry system and female feticide but it is not being highlighted. Instead the decision we take for orderliness in the society in accordance with our traditions are dubbed as 'Talibani'," he said. The decision taken by the panchayat in Asra was an 'advisory' and not a 'diktat'," said Malik. In another incident related to the khap panchayat— which the media had earlier called undemocratic and termed as running a parallel system—the media endorsed the decision of a Khap panchayat in Haryana's Jind district. The decision is about taking a strong stand against female foeticide and dowry system. It was decided during a grand gathering of over 150 khaps representing Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. They demanded an amendment in the law to book perpetrators of foeticide for murder. At present, foeticide is punishable by imprisonment for maximum five years. As regards the rights of women and the freedom they should also enjoy, it has been a point of high controversy among religious elites and the so-called liberals of today. The ethical rulings which restrict actions of not only women but also men, set some codes of conduct to be followed in order to build a balanced and anarchy free society. They ask women to be more cautious as they are always on the receiving end of any sexual harassment. There have been questions as to why should only women and girls always adjust in a society and why not men? Why should only women observe veils and not men? These questions do raise a point but they do not solve the problem. In the societies where, as per the media or common perception, women have complete freedom and enjoy their rights the cases of rape, molestation and harassment are reported by women not men. The torment of free sexual relations which results into undeclared polygamy is borne by women not by men: women have to bear the side effects of abortion, single mothers have to care for the children when live-in-partners desert them to chose another girl and it is again women who are teased and molested by trusted boyfriends. In the name of freedom we can urge a woman scantily dressed to wander among men, who are naturally attracted to beauties, and that too at midnight but if she falls prey to animal extinct of men we will not be there to bear the physical and mental trauma she suffers. Sitting at a safe place we can only express oral sympathy. We can condemn the criminals in the strongest words possible. We can put the responsibility on the security officers. Will all this lessen the suffering of the victim? Security to women must be ensured. But the security measures should not be confined to vigil and sensible behaviour of the police. Even police sometimes could turn molesters, as is seen in many of the cases, because they are among the human beings. So the security measures should be extended to the precautions a woman adopts in order to decrease the possibility of occurrence of any sexual abuse. Stern punishments can do the trick. But why let the crimes occur in the first place? Ours is a stand similar to that of a Bangalore traffic police who stands at the other end of a narrow and meandering one-way lane to spot the drivers who have violated the traffic rule. After the violation has taken place the police are there to impose the law. Had the policeman been there to stop the drivers from entering in the wrong one-way lane there would have been no violation at all. Similarly, if we check the causes of eve teasing, rape and harassment in the very first place we can successfully curb these crimes against women. But if we insist on increasing the causes and expect that crimes figure comes down at the same time it will be too foolish an expectation. By A. Hameed Yousuf

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Media Made Terror Groups

Prejudice and double standard were all evident in the mainstream media when it reported two recent incidents; regime change in the neighbouring country of Maldives and attack on the Israeli diplomats car in New Delhi.
* As the result of the change in government of Maldives, its first democratically elected president Mohammad Nasheed tendered his resignation on February 7 amidst public protests later joined by the police and a section of the army. He has been replaced by his vice president Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

The protests erupted after Nasheed ordered the military to arrest Abdulla Mohamed, the chief judge of the Criminal Court accusing him of political bias and corruption. The judge had ordered the release of a government critic he said had been illegally detained. The vice president, Supreme Court, Human Rights Commission, Judicial Services Commission and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights all called for Mohamed to be released.

With an estimated population of 3,28,536 Maldives is a small Islamic country. It would not pose a threat to Indian security, according to the media, even though one of the terrorists responsible for Mumbai attack is said to be Maldivian. But the current regime change in the country is portrayed as the result of rise of Islamism in it. Islam is a peaceful religion and if any radical Islam—a vague term that should mean Islam in its original shape without any manmade addition or deletion—spreads in any country it does not pose security threat to other countries. But a media that always sees Islam negatively does not believe so.

A report in the respected daily Times Of India “Rise of Islamism in Maldives a cause of worry for India” is adamant to declare that Maldives has been dominated by radical Islamists and that this could pose a serious danger to India.

“The growth of Islamic radicalism in Maldives can be traced to the beginning of the last decade. Like in Bangladesh, Pakistani jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba have been making inroads to indoctrinate young men in a conservative Sunni society, that has been bogged down with slow growth, political authoritarianism (until 2008, certainly) and mushrooming madrassas with Arab funds...Most of the Islamic ideology in Maldives is Ahle-Hadith, which is also the school followed by LeT. But Salafist ideologies are now also evident. Nasheed tried to make a deal with them and even had the Adhaalat Party, the Islamist party, as part of his coalition. In his interview with TOI, the new president Mohamed Waheed said, “Our view is the best way of dealing with Islamist ideology is to engage with them and work with them. That, we believe is the right and democratic way to go about it.”

The report adds, “Maldives is particularly crucial because its geographical position situates it right in the middle of major sea routes in the Indian Ocean. But equally, a radicalized section of the tiny population of Maldives could make it so much easier for the ISI-Lashkar combine to use them as a staging ground for terror attacks against India.” The newspaper, however, does not make clear as to how the perceived ISI-Lashkar attacks would be the result of radical Islam. Islam does not teach terrorism.

* The double standard of the media is explicit from the fact that while it ignored the continuous murders of Palestinians by Israel, it created such a hue and cry when an Israeli was injured in Delhi as if the sky had fallen on the earth. Of course, the blood whether of an Israeli or a Palestinian should be given the same respect and anyone shedding it must be condemned and brought to book.
Again in a story related to the attack the TOI exhibits its bias towards Islam.

Out of the wreckages of the attack it again came out with a new kind of threat posed by Islam; that is Sunni Deobandi terrorism. Until now people were aware of Islamic Terrorism; a term widely opposed by the Islamic scholars. Some years back the world hailed the largest Sunni Islamic seminary in Asia, Dar-ul-Uloom at Deoband when its scholars openly condemned any form of terrorism as un-Islamic.
In a report Israeli Establishments In India On Terror Radar the paper unlike in the report above wherein it called LeT the follower of the ideology of Ahle-Hadith it now calls the terror outfit as a Sunni Deobandi group. And so, “Mondays attack on an Israeli diplomat, seen to be sponsored by Iranian groups, adds a new dimension to the threat posed by Sunni Deobandi groups like Lashkar.”
This is but an Islamophobic propaganda emanating out of bias towards the religion, for many reasons. This must be stopped in the interest of peaceful coexistence. The media will lose the hold it has on readers if it continues with its own whims and fancies. Already most of the media reports are not taken seriously anymore. People have begun to read between the lines and belief in printed news is diminishing.
By A H Y