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UK’s Islamophobia ban can turn into a blasphemy law: India should look at it

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : May 18, 2019, 12:05 am IST
Updated : May 18, 2019, 12:05 am IST

The suffix was added to distinguish the death-cult from one of the popular religions of the world.

It’s not the same in attacks on Muslims by supposed other Muslims in mosques and shrines in Pakistan.
 It’s not the same in attacks on Muslims by supposed other Muslims in mosques and shrines in Pakistan.

“Just because you think it,
Doesn’t make it true
Conviction is no test of truth
Neither for me nor you

Descartes came close when he declared
“I think therefore I am!”
Don’t be like Dracula who dared
To mistake blood for jam.”
From The Taste of Dhoka Cola by Bachchoo

Idiots blow themselves up in Sri Lankan churches killing hundreds of people at prayer. These idiots the media say have been brainwashed, believing that they will go straight to paradise and be afforded earthly luxury and 72 virgins. (Are all women suicide bombers lesbians?). I disagree — not with the notion of going to paradise and its rewards but with the statement that they have been brainwashed. One has to have a brain for someone to wash it.

These murderers must, like creatures great and small, possess some protoplasm in their skulls, but calling it a brain is an insult to every human being and even to the birds that sing. These robotic “persons” have put themselves beyond earthly justice through being programmed with a doctrine, which its cowardly perpetrators call “Islam”.

For the last three decades, perhaps from the appearance in the public eye of Al Qaeda, the vicious death-cult and several variations of it, have been labelled “Islamism”.

The suffix was added to distinguish the death-cult from one of the popular religions of the world. It shouldn’t have been. Islam should not in any way have been associated with the death-cults and their convictions and preaching. Any perusal of Islam, by laymen, by theologians, by scholars and renowned Imams will prove that the religion does not, in any interpretation, instruct people to tie explosives to themselves and kill innocent people Neither does any interpretation of the Quran or the Hadith justify driving vans into people walking on the pavements of Westminster Bridge. These are far-fetched willful medieval interpretations unacceptable to most Muslims in the contemporary world,

Innocent Muslims are also being slaughtered, some by right-wing maniacs who target mosques in New Zealand or in Finsbury Park, London. It is likely that both these attacks were not motivated by any knowledge of the teachings of Islam. They were murderous attacks on places where Muslims would gather to pray and were racially anti-immigrant in their animus.

It’s not the same in attacks on Muslims by supposed other Muslims in mosques and shrines in Pakistan. Those are, through the genocidal boasts of the perpetrators, attacks by Sunnis on Shias and “Sufi” worshippers — not racial in nature but motivated by historical and theological divisions attributed by the murderers to their own interpretations of Islam.

Then there are the bombs and slaughters in Palestine by Israel (not through the theology of Judaism versus Islam but by territorial ambition and imperialism); the proxy war of Wahhabi Saudi and Shia Iran in Yemen with millions of Muslims caught in the conflict; the wars for control throughout the Middle East and north Africa…

And let’s not neglect a mention of the anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions of Hindutva groups, politicians and murdering vigilantes in India.

In the wake of attacks on Muslims in Britain, fatal and verbal, the present government is considering a new definition of “Islamophobia”. The proposed definition is:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

This definition has been accepted by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. Not, gentle reader, by me.

Britain certainly needs a definition of and even a punishable law against “Muslimophobia”. There have been an increasing number of attacks on mosques — so far not anything like the massacres in New Zealand or Pakistan — and these, or the instigation to perpetrate such attacks, ought certainly to be defined and prohibited in law. So also, the instances of attacks on individual Muslims — and that includes “hate crimes” which may not be physical in nature.

The proposed definition comes close to defining Muslims as a race in the eye of the Muslimophobe. To call the acts they seek to ban “Islamophobia” can be interpreted as a new, restrictive, blasphemy law, which were laws Britain abolished years ago.

One can openly disagree with the Bible or the Quran without fear of criminal prosecution. When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses it was perceived by Ayatollah Khomeini and by millions who hadn’t or couldn’t read it, as anti-Islamic. What the book wasn’t, or isn’t, is anti-Muslim and despite demonstrations against it the government of Margaret Thatcher, a constant target of Salman Rushdie’s politics, decided quite rightly, to afford him full protection.

Martin Hewitt, a senior police chief and chair of the National Police Chief’s Council, has written to the Prime Minister pointing out that this definition proposed by a committee chaired by a Tory called Baroness Warsi, may inhibit the investigation — or worse — make it illegal to investigate people and premises suspected of terrorism in the cause of “Islamism”.

Another objection to this definition comes from Trevor Phillips of the Policy Exchange think tank. He quotes the case of schools in Birmingham which were investigated for “teaching” extreme forms of Islamism as a result of having been infiltrated by Islamists who joined as senior staff or school governors. The investigation into what was labelled the Trojan Horse phenomenon would be prohibited as Islamophobic under this definition and the besieged pupil-Trojans of Birmingham would be institutionally subject to brainwashing, protected, if not by statute, by this inhibiting definition.

While rejecting it as an inhibition to free speech and recognising chief Hewitt’s and Mr Phillips’ reservations about applying such a definition and enshrining it in law or in any code of practice in Britain, I wonder if it would be useful in the recent political climate in India. I think the Mahagathbandhan and even Amit Shah, who professes to love all Indians, should have a look at it, even after the election results.

Tags: islamophobia, blasphemy law