India and elsewhere: Religious wars are forever – February 10, 2022

Plain English Version

At the Dasna Devi temple, a placard read: “This is a holy place for Hindus. Entry of Muslims is forbidden.” Photo Credit: Saumya Khandelwal for The New York Times.

People of different backgrounds live together. Unless, for some reason, they decide not to live together. They do seem to get along better in dictatorships. Tito ran Yugoslavia, Hussein ran Iraq and Khaddaffi ran Libya. Their people had no freedom of choice about with whom they lived. And so, for the most part, they got along.

The neighborliness ended when the dictators fell. A good example is Iraq. Most of the population is Muslim of Sunni and Shia sects. The ruling class came from the Sunni. Without the Sunni Hussein, long-simmering hostility became open. This led to the beginning of ISIS, a radical Sunni group. Their goal was to drive out the Shia and all foreigners.

Why does this bring us to discuss India? The independence of India led to the founding of Pakistan. Pakistan was for Muslims, while India was for Hindus. The nation itself was a republic. But people of different religions resided in both countries.

India now seems on a track to promote hatred of Muslims. A newspaper account reported a recent incident. A packed audience and thousands online watched a rally. Hindu monks called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them.”

Leaders said the events were not significant enough to engage them. Observers see it in a different way.

Hindu extremists are on the rise in India. They want to create a Hindu state. The Constitution of India protects the rights of all people. But, when the extremism of the Monks was known, the leaders of India said nothing.

The hate speech in India is creating tensions. India is a country where minor incidents have incited mass-death tragedies. The monks’ agenda plays to increasingly emboldened vigilante groups.

Vigilantes have beaten people accused of disrespecting cows, considered holy by some Hindus. They have dragged couples out of trains, cafes, and homes on suspicion that Muslim men might be seducing Hindu women. They have barged into religious gatherings where they suspect people are being converted.

One expert said the activities that lead to genocide are well underway in India.

After the creation of Pakistan, the monks wanted India to be a Hindu state. The founding fathers made it a secular republic. The George Washington of India is Mohandas Gandhi. Hindu extremists celebrate his assassination.

Neither Muslims nor Hindus come to violent disagreement without fault. Whether India will descend into systematic violence between the groups is the question.

Migrants are moving from the Middle East, Africa, and Central America. How they are treated is one of the big questions facing nations.

Religion, culture, and nationality are about differences. It will be hard to overcome those feelings as long as people feel their qualities are superior.

Source: The New York Times February 8, 2022

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