We are living in a society that is increasingly becoming intolerant towards our food choices, our clothing, our lifestyles, our very raison d’etre of existence. If you are a minority, and especially a Muslim, then the fear is overwhelming. The choice is either between conformity or fear of bodily harm. This is a problem, and the first step towards solving any problem is the sincere need to acknowledge that there is a problem.
The intolerance is not just restricted to remote rural villages in the hinterland. The venom has crept right into my and your cozy urban bubbles, where we like to insulate ourselves. I am not even talking about the shameful attacks that took place in South Delhi, where three men were assaulted by the “so-called Gau-Rakshaks”.
I am talking about well educated, influential people providing rationalisation to vigilante attacks, which in any other civilised country would have been thoroughly condemned across all political spectrum.
Take for instance, Harbir Singh. A first look at his Facebook profile, and you would see someone, who has had the best of upbringing, the best of education, a promising career. He happens to be a social media influencer, writes occasional columns for Times of India and his spouse is a Senior Assistant Editor with the same newspaper.
But Dwell deeper into his thinking, and you would come to terms with a very different uncomfortable reality of his thoughts. Here is a Facebook post (which has now been deleted), that he made in the light of the recent increased cow-vigilantism. This post had close to 200 likes and was shared by around 50 people, including the well known public figure Tarek Fateh.
Let us take a short walk through Harbir’s mind. He ends his first paragraph with a rationalisation of the increasing violence in the name of cows, and calls it inevitable, which he also claims has ‘broad public approval’.
The next paragraph is filled with arguments which are simply not grounded in reality. A simple look at the judicial exonerations of people like Swami Aseemanand, judicial proceedings of convicted mass murderers like Maya Kodnani (who has been out on bail since 2014) and what increasingly looks like from the way the judiciary has taken this case, she is going to have her convictions overturned.
There are numerous such cases, where terrorists are being protected by the state, due to their affiliations with organisations perceived close to the government in power. When was the last time you heard Islamists being treated with such kid gloves ? The state comes down heavily on Islamist terrorists, and very rightly so.
But anyway, let us move on to his third and fourth paragraphs. This is where the problem is, which so many of us have taken deep objection to. He begins with another assumption that our state is weak, and is unable to provide justice to victims.
What he ends with, is an all out call for mob violence against the “flock of Islamist Maulanas”. In his world, the syncretic India that provides space to different religious and political philosophies, simply does not exist.
So, if there are people in our society (whom he perceives as Islamists), he thinks the natural consequence should be an all out mob violence against every single Muslim living in India. He calls it an inevitable outcome, and asks us to conform to his wisdom, but we will not ! We will challenge it, at each and every step !
I started a campaign trying to take down his hateful message ! A Muslim friend of mine did the same as well. The next thing we know, Harbir Singh got outright abusive with my friend. He posted the following on his Facebook page. These posts have also been taken down (presumably by him)
What worries me, is not just the actions of a sole individual but the increasing tendency to provide intellectual justifications for crimes which should be condemned outright. Period ! If we don’t all get together to spread the message of love and unity, then we won’t be able to fight the fascism that has crept slowly into our society. Remember, fascism, when it arrives at our doorsteps, won’t come dressed in a Hitler’s SS brown shirt, but rather dressed in smart ties and suits of well educated English speaking men !
Hence – Organise, Agitate, Resist!