We publish an article which was sadly disregarded by the concerned newspapers.
Before starting to pen down my feelings let me make an honest confession. I am neither a prolific writer nor an intellectual; but I am an ordinary citizen of this great country. Today an atmosphere of mistrust is prevailing, especially against the Muslims all over the world. The print and electronic media have played their part in it, with few exceptions. What happened on 11th September in New York is a crime against humanity and is deplorable.
But what has followed suit? On 12th September the headline in New York Post screamed: “Kill the bastards”.
An extraordinary situation required an extraordinary restraint and objectivity. Unfortunately even the Indian electronic and print media betrayed lack of professional integrity and objectivity. For example, on 16th September a news item appeared in The Hindustan Times: “VHP condemns Imam Bukhari’s stand.” I tried to look for the statement of Imam Bukhari in the newspaper of 15th September that had been criticised the following day. My efforts were in vain. The imam of Jama Masjid supposedly made a statement on Friday the 14th September asking for restraint from the Indian government in the context of allowing military facilities to USA. Now the question arises that if the statement was not carried by the newspaper then why its condemnation? After the attack on WTC the very next day the Jamiat ul Ulema-i Hind, an organisation that produced many freedom fighters and is respected by the Muslims in India and abroad, condemned it in no uncertain terms. This condemnation was totally missed by the newspaper in question. Was it deliberate or an oversight?
In editorials umpteen times the phrase “mad mullahs” is used. If my memory does not betray me I do not think such qualificative adjectives have been used for the religious heads of other faiths. This is in no way to justify th acts of brutality carried out by the so called jehadis and their patrons. But then journalistic ethics should not be pushed aside for the pleasure of an individual or a group.
Aaj Tak, the news channel of India Today group carried malicious propaganda against the famous Darul Uloom Deoband by pronouncing three students of that institution as guilty in a train bomb blast. The police said that the three students were not involved at all and in fact have nothing to do with such matters. Yet this malicious propaganda continued against an institution that fought in the freedom struggle and was firmly opposed to the partition of the country along religious lines. We should not forget that practising Muslims, with reference to whom stereotypes are created, could be quite secular while a very westernised looking person may not be. Maulana Azad and Jinnah come to mind.
My late father appeared for an interview for a job just after the partition and he was asked by a member of the interview board: “Mr. Moudud ul Haque, why don’t you migrate to Pakistan?” My late father replied very calmly “Sir, I think you should ask this question to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.” The interview was over. The point is that if you are going to play to the gallery then you are not doing justice to yourself or to the society at large.
If we dwell into history we shall find ample evidence of how a group of individuals was blindly supported by the most powerful “democracy” in the world to counter genuine grievances and feelings of the people. Who was behind the overthrow of an elected government in Chile? Who made the lives of the people in Vietnam miserable?
Have we forgotten that it was the US that sent its Seventh fleet to the Bay of Bengal in 1971? How much compensation did we receive for the disaster in Bhopal? We are citizens of a poor country-does that mean we should not be treated at par with citizens of rich and powerful countries? When terrorism strikes in Jammu and Kashmir it does not raise any storm for the US. When Palestinians are driven away from their homeland it does not stir our conscience. Why? Losses of innocent lives- in USA, India, Palestine or in Iraq are the same for me.
Today terrorists are branded as Islamic terrorists by the media. Have you heard of Christian, Jew or Hindu terrorists? It seems that a very carefully thought of and well-planned strategy exists to malign Islam. A very important incident from the life of the Prophet will give us some insight into what Islam stands for. A non-Muslim lady used to throw garbage on the Prophet everyday. For two consecutive days when the prophet did not get the garbage on his head, he went to enquire about the well being of the lady. She was ill and the Prophet prayed for her health. Islam spread through out the world with the message of peace and moral decency.
If the protagonists of a faith do something wrong, dos that give a license to any one to put into the dock that faith itself? I would say very emphatically NO. it was a Hindu who killed Mahatma Gandhi but I shall never accept that the Hindu faith should be prosecuted for that or that all Hindus should be blamed for the act. Two Sikhs assassinated Indira Gandhi, but we cannot blame the whole community for the crime.
It pains me a great deal when Muslims in India are asked regularly to prove their patriotism. Let it be settled once and for all that Muslims are Indians by choice and not by chance. I need not remind you who wrote the famous “Sare Jahaan Se Achchha Hindostan Hamara”. Unfortunately the narrow mindedness of our times allows for discrimination against them. Otherwise how could you imagine that Ali Sardar Jafri was not included in the recently concluded census of India. If this could happen to a person of his stature and eminence it is dreadful to think of what can happen to ordinary people.
My arguments could be unending but through these feelings that have taken shape in this write up I just want to make an earnest appeal to the media to please be sensitive and objective. Osama bin Laden is alleged to have masterminded the attacks on WTC and pentagon. He has denied the allegation. What do we do? Do we support carpet bombing of Afghanistan and take sadistic pleasure in enjoying the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan? The land of the apostle of non-violence should not succumb to this idea. We should insist that all actions be routed through the United nations and see to it that no injustice is done to anybody as happened in Iraq where approximately half a million people have perished due to to the sanctions. Why do US and its Allies not want to liberate Tibet? There is no petrol in Tibet.
Today the victims could be Muslims. Tomorrow it could be you or anybody else. Let us not forget what the great German pastor, Martin Niemoeller wrote in 1945:
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I did not speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me—
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
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