From Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to Muslim countries to Muslim "extremist" elements, they seem to have no dearth of scapegoats, but the real culprits.
Dr Abhay Kumar
MAKING a passing reference to the BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad, several editorials and opinion pieces in the Hindi Press have exhausted their energy by assiduously building a narrative in an effort to lay the blame for the entire episode at the door of Muslim world. From Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to Muslim countries to Muslim “extremist” elements, they seem to have no dearth of scapegoats, but the real culprits.
Rashtriya Sahara went on to the extent of standing in defence of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal through its editorial (June 7). “The party has taken a disciplinary action, but it is not the recognition of the fact that they [Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal] have done really anything wrong. If they have done it wrong, then they should get punishment as have been the demands. However, a large number of people in the country think that Nupur Sharma has not done anything that could amount to an insult to Prophet Muhammad. It means that the extremists and anti-BJP forces are deliberately projecting her statement as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad”.
In short, the daily suggests that the charges against Nupur Sharma, “levelled by anti-BJP forces” are politically motivated.
Instead of criticising the politics of hate carried out by the Hindutva brigade, the Hindi newspapers tried to steer clear of the issue by choosing to argue that suspension of Sharma and Jindal for their remarks has foreclosed the matter. All the same the Hindi press has taken an indefensible stand that the Muslim countries have no justification to criticise the Indian government over the issue of religious intolerance.
“When the BJP suspended its two leaders, who allegedly made controversial remarks against the Prophet, there was no justification, therefore, for the Islamic countries to try to give a moral lesson to India as these countries give shelters to the fanatic (unmadi) religious leaders, who make a mockery of other belief systems, along with terrorists,” Dainik Jagran, one of the leading Hindi dailies, wrote in its editorial (June 7).
Writing in Punjab Kesari (June 8), Firoz Bakht Ahmed made certain contradictory remarks about Nupur Sharma. At one place, his opinion piece called Nupur Sharma’s statement “foolish” (murkhtapurn) while on another place, it tried to defend her by laying the blame on a Muslim panelist who, according to him, hurt her religious sentiments during the TV debate: “In fact, the reason why Nupur Sharma lost her control is that in the TV debate she was participating, a Muslim participant caused an insult by calling Shivaling fountain”.
It’s worth noting here that the author’s piece is upholding the known Hindutva narrative. If the Hindutva forces one fine day decided to call the fountain inside the Gyanvapi Masjid a Shivling, it should be accepted as a universal truth. That the matter is sub-judice and the court has not given a final judgment to settle the fountain/Shivling dispute doesn’t seem to make sense. The Hindutva forces would forcefully impose their own point of view on others if anybody dares to question them he/she will be accused of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.
Writing an opinion piece in Dainik Jagran (June 8), Sreeram Chaulia accused the Islamic countries of double standards. “There is no doubt that the OIC comprising 57 countries have crossed all limits of shallowness (aochhapan). It has made an allegation that the minorities are being ‘oppressed’ in India. It has also claimed that an ‘atmosphere of hatred against Islam’ is being created. But it should be kept in mind that the same OIC, through its extremist member Pakistan, passed a resolution related to Islamophobia (‘hatred against Islam’). The resolution was passed for observing the International Day to combat Islamophobia. Several countries including India and France rejected this resolution and reminded the world community that if we impartially look at the issue, it would be clear that many religious communities are being exploited. That is why recognising Islam as the only persecuted religion is not only undesirable but also dangerous. It is because jihadi terrorists, under the garb of Islamophobia, justify their violent acts”.
As far as the hate speech of Nupur Sharma is concerned, the author uses a few words to cover everything related to her derogatory remarks by hurriedly referring them to as “ some objectionable”. The author does not say anything about the impunity the communal forces enjoy even as the police, the administration and the government openly targets Muslims and their religious places.
In a July 11 editorial, Dainik Jagran failed to look at the Friday violence in a holistic approach. Instead of condemning the use of force by the police on unarmed protesters and an attempt to criminalise the fundamental right to assembly and protest, the daily tossed up a conspiracy theory against the BJP government. “Since country-wide disturbances over the statement of Nupur Sharma were reported after the anger expressed by Islamic countries, it lends credence to the doubt that it was sponsored and planned”.
Dr Abhay Kumar is a Delhi-based independent journalist and writer. He did his PhD (Modern History) from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He also teaches Political Science and Urdu. You may write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org