Sutanu Guru

Since there can be no doubt that “progressives” and “liberals” would pronounce me guilty of Islamophobia for displaying the temerity to write two consecutive columns criticising some Muslims, I might as well admit it upfront. I am not an active keyboard warrior fighting tribal wars on Twitter that is now X.

But recent events in Israel & Gaza have so outraged my sense of basic humanity that I haven’t been able to stop myself posting about once a day on X. Here is a sample of my posts last week. Both are responses to otherwise decent humans and Indians I had mentioned in my previous column, namely Shahid Siddiqui and Saba Naqvi:

On October 18, one of the numerous posts by Siddiqui read: “Shame on Indian Media which is proving to be more loyal to Zionists than even the Israeli Media or their apologists. Their hatred of Muslims is another level. They will buy any lie if it makes Muslims look bad.” This was related to reports of an Israeli missile strike on a hospital in Gaza that killed scores of children.

By the time this lament about “Zionism” was posted, enough evidence had come out to suggest that the Hamas claims of an Israeli missile strike were stretching the truth.  My response was: “Absolutely agree with you Sir. Shame on them. They should have also pointed out how the massacre of about 150 school children in Pakistan in 2014 was done by Zionists. Shame on them.” My post refers to a 2014 event in Peshawar in Pakistan where more than half a dozen Taliban “fighters” stormed the Army Public School and slaughtered about 150 Muslim school kids. The “fighters” were Holy Muslim warriors, of course.

A day after that, when conclusive evidence had emerged that the propaganda about the Israeli missile strike was a lie (Not that Israeli air strikes are not killing innocent civilians in Gaza), Saba Naqvi posted: “I am a coward. I could not sleep last night after seeing the footage from Gaza and the children injured, bewildered, terrified. So I just did not look today. Imagine life in a war zone for those who have no escape. #Gaza”. My humble response was: “I am a coward too. But i forced myself to see slaughtered babies, young girls and the elderly thanks to Hamas and slaughtered babies, children & the elderly thanks to Israeli retaliation. Am a human being. I mourn & pray for ALL victims”.

But here is the problem: since I have stated Muslims often happily slaughter other Muslims, including children and since I mourn and pray for slaughtered Israeli babies and children, I am proclaimed Islamophobe by default. But some thoughts swirling in my mind with memories of 9/11 will leave no doubt that I am a certified Islamophobe. Everyone remembers what happened on 9/11. Almost everyone remembers how the then American President George Bush told the military dictator of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf that his country was either “with us or against us” in the imminent “war on terror”.

Pakistan did “officially” join the war on terror. But almost nobody remembers the speech delivered by Musharraf while announcing Pakistan was a part of the war on terror that was telecast live and watched by millions across the world. I remember that speech of September 19, 2001. It was meant primarily for his domestic audience which was incensed that Pakistan was joking the “Satan” in a fight against Islam.

Musharraf invoked Prophet Mohammed to justify his unpopular decision. In brief, in the early days of Islam, the Prophet migrated away from Mecca where he faced pagans hostile to Islam to Medina. His new religion faced hostility even in Medina. The Prophet was a great strategist who looked at the big picture and thought long term in those days of tribal warfare.

Here is how Musharraf reminded Pakistanis of those decisions in his speech: “Some clerics and some religious leaders are being driven toward an emotional decision. I want to remind them of the first six years of the history of Islam. Islam’s calendar started with migration when Prophet Mohammed himself went from Mecca to Medina to save Islam. It was his, of course, wisdom to go towards a migration… After migration, when the prophet reached Medina, then he entered a friendship treaty with his enemies, the Jews, in Medina… After six years, the Jews noticed that Islam was becoming stronger… he decided to sign an agreement, an alliance with the same infidels of Mecca with whom he had been fighting… And then in the next six months, there was a battle between Muslims and Jews, and of course by the grace of God, Muslims won the battle. This was possible because there had been a pact with the infidels of Mecca–of a no-war (ph) pact–that Muslims won. And then, of course, Mecca was conquered.”

As was perhaps wont in tribal warfare in that era, virtually all the adult Jewish males were killed and the women taken as slaves. Muslims still celebrate that famous and historic victory with chants of “Khaybar, Khaybar, o Jews, the army of Mohamed will return”. Just in case you didn’t know, thousands of Muslims have marched across cities of Europe chanting the same slogan. The Islamophobe in me wants to ask: if you are protesting the atrocities of the Israeli state against people of Palestine, why are you invoking and celebrating the massacre of Jews about 1400 years ago in a tribal war? Are you professing your passion for human rights or your centuries long and unending hatred of Jews (I wouldn’t dare to gather the courage about other infidels)?

There is more. Muslims have a reason to be enraged with what the western powers have done in Middle East or West Asia (though I wonder why Muslims in Mangalore and Morababad worry about events in Palestine. In an ideal world, people like George Bush, Tony Blair, Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton would be tried for war crimes for what they have done to Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

But it is not an ideal world. America killed about 3 million people of Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. Today, Vietnam is a model of economic success and prosperity. Have you heard of any enraged Vietnamese killing civilians in Europe or the US because they killed 3 million of their countrymen?

Since I ask such questions, I am accepting I am an Islamophobe. But I have no doubt more and more people across the world who genuinely believe in humanity will be asking these questions.

(Author has been a media professional for over 3 decades. He is now Executive Director, C Voter Foundation. Views are Personal)