In 2002, a bunch of barbaric thugs killed her family members and gang raped Bilkis Bano. An overwhelming proportion of Indians-Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs-publicly called out the savagery without adding any ifs and buts. Barring a few (all communities and all religions have bigoted and evil persons), no one said the burning of about 60 Hindu pilgrims inside a train compartment provoked the thugs into so much anger that they gang raped Bilkis.
No one said: what they did was perhaps wrong, but “what about” Godhra? When these murderous thugs were released from prison last year on remission after 17 years behind bars, tens of millions of Hindus like me publicly stated that they found it disgusting. A C Voter survey revealed that a majority of Hindus were against the release of those convicted criminals.
I am providing this elaborate background so that evil terror apologists do not fall back on the “but what about” ruse.
I have been so shocked, so appalled and so numbed by responses of a majority of Indian Muslims on social media to the slaughter of civilian Israelis by the terrorist outfit Hamas that there literally are no words. I saw large gatherings of Muslims in New York, Toronto, London, Berlin and Sydney come out in support of the Palestinian “cause” but was dumbfounded by the manner in which they cheered and applauded the gory barbarism of the Hamas.
Barring a few incidents here and there including in Aligarh Muslim University, Indian Muslims have not yet taken to the streets to cheer the Hamas. But I have gone through dozens and scores of social media posts of the so called educated, moderate and liberal Muslims and it has been a wakeup call. It is harsh and politically incorrect to say it, but there is no escaping the bitter reality: when it comes to some issues, moderate and liberal Muslims simply do not exist.
Muslims and “ultra secular” Hindus are welcome to label me as an Islamophobic bigot. Who cares? Some Hindutva types too have abused me for describing the gang rapists of Bilkis Bano as barbaric savages who were better off spending their entire lives in prison. Who cares?
Many issues, events and controversies are steeped in “grey areas”. But there are some in which it is either black or white; there can be no context, no “what about”, no both sides of the argument and no grey area. What the Hamas did recently in Israel falls in that category. It was pure evil. And yet, scores of liberal, intellectual and moderate Muslims in India have been trying their damned best to “contextualise” the savagery of the Hamas.
Some seem to have retained at least a modicum of decency by saying what the Hamas has done is unacceptable. Sadly, even these folks have immediately followed up their condemnation with words like: but we must not forget how the Israeli state has persecuted, killed and terrorized Palestinians for 75 years.
The logic is: because Palestinians have been victims of this Arab-Israel conflict since Israel was “illegally” created as a nation state by a United Nations mandate in 1948, we must blame Israel at least equally even as we condemn the Hamas. This argument is so devoid of common sense, decency, humanity and empathy that it is stunning how the proponents still righteously believe they hold the moral high ground.
Just in case you have been living under a rock or are the types who never follow any news, here is what the Hamas has done. By the way, Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, one of the two Palestinian “states” along with West Bank given up by Israel since 2005 for Palestinians to manage. The publicly stated aim of Hamas is to destroy Israel and exterminate all Jews living there.
In their twisted minds, they believe the Islamic Holy Book sanctions and ask for this. Anyways, in the early morning of October 7, thousands of Hamas terrorists broke through the so called “impregnable” security barriers set up by the Israeli security forces.
In one place, more than a 1000 youngsters from many countries were dancing in a music festival. The Hamas terrorists opened indiscriminate fire and slaughtered (as per official body count) 260 young people in cold blood. Eye witness accounts of survivors reveal the terrorists repeatedly gang raped scores of young females before killing them.
More than a hundred have been taken to Gaza as hostages. One victim was a German woman Shani Louk, a fun loving young lady who loved music and dancing. She was gang raped, her limbs were broken and her semi naked dead body was publicly paraded in Gaza as crowds cheered and chanted Allah Ho Akbar.
I have watched dozens of such videos. Many are obviously fake. But some are clearly authentic. Hams terrorists entered the house of a 70-year-old grand-mom, butchered her and used her phone to livestream the act on her Facebook as her helpless family members staying elsewhere watched in despair.
In another, a man manages to sneak his children and wife out through the roof even as terrorists’ barge into their house with blazing guns. He fails to make it, his dead body riddled with bullets tumbling on to the roof. In another, a couple and their three very young children are slaughtered.
In yet another, terrorists enter a neighborhood, shoot a Labrador dog down and launch mayhem. When security forces “rescue” the area, 40 dead bodies of babies are discovered, many with their heads chopped off. I could go on and on, but it is pointless. Israel is in deep shock and trauma.
How have “moderate” Indian Muslims reacted? Politician cum journalist Shahid Siddique posted that that Israel has been oppressing Palestinians for so long that these were “suicidal acts of desperation”. There is little doubt Palestinians have suffered grievously in the Arab-Israel conflict.
But will gang raping tourists from other other counties and beheading young babies bring justice to them? How “desperate” can you get to commit acts like this? Another moderate Muslim Indian is journalist Saba Naqvi. When the Israeli Defence Forces stated bombing suspected Hamas locations in Gaza, she posted: An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.
Of course, she has kept reposting material that highlights the sufferings of Palestinians. But the Nobel Prize for inhumanity goes to Irena Akbar, a former journalist who is now an entrepreneur. In a long post, she ends up saying the gang raped, mutiliated and murdered Shani Louk was used to wearing bikinis so what was wrong in showing her dead body in underwear.
She added for good measure that Islam doesn’t allow this condemnable behaviour and hectored others not to blame Palestinians and Muslims for the savagery. How do you react to this mind set?
I reiterate, tens of millions of Hindus like me call those who gang raped Bilkis Bano barbaric monsters. No ifs and buts. No Godhra train bombing as an excuse. Can “moderate” and “liberal” Indian Muslims not look within their souls and simply call the Hamas terrorists barbaric monsters without any ifs and buts? Or, am I expecting too much?
(Author has been a media professional for over 3 decades. He is now Executive Director, C Voter Foundation. Views are Personal)