By Sajjad Shaukat
Taking cognizance of the growing threat of global terrorism which has been dividing the Western and Islamic nations on cultural and religious lines since 9/11, American and European governments have already started inter-faith dialogue especially between the Christian and Muslim nations. The main aim of such a dialogue is to create interfaith harmony among various religious communities.
In the recent years, many conferences were held in various countries in which scholars from Islamic states also participated with a view to creating cultural understanding and interfaith cooperation among major religious communities. In this regard, a four day conference of Muslim and Christian intellectuals held on August 1, 2009 at the Yale University Divinity School of America for promoting interfaith dialogue, but ended without discussing any issue of religious fundamentalism in connection with state terrorism. Another conference of Muslims, Christians and Jews was held in at Madrid, arranged by the efforts of Saudi King Abdullah.
However, all these measures are proving fruitless due to a deliberate anti-Muslim campaign, launched by the Indo-Israeli lobbies, resulting in obstacles in global interfaith harmony. America and its allies continue to kill many innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine through heavy aerial bombardment and ground shelling in the name of war on terror. The occupying forces have been using every possible technique of state terrorism in these territories which have become the breeding grounds of a prolonged interaction between freedom fighters and state terrorists, thwarting global interfaith harmony.
Indian-held Kashmir has become a special focus as state terrorism there keeps on going unabated. In this respect, on September 13 this year, Indian forces killed more than 22 protesters in confrontations across the Indian occupied Kashmir, fueled in part by a report that the Holy Quran was desecrated in the US. Despite a rigid curfew clamped across the region, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, throwing rocks, torching government buildings and chanting, “Go India, go back. We want freedom.” Within the last few days, the death toll of the innocent Kashmiris reached more than 100.
Nevertheless, massive demonstrations, strikes and firing by the security forces continue in the occupied Kashmir intermittently and people raise the slogans for liberation of Kashmir.
It is notable that there has been a routine failure of justice in Jammu and Kashmir. In the recent past, hundreds of unidentified graves with more than 3000 bodies were discovered in the Indian-held Kashmir. Sources have accused Indian RAW of the custodial killings of the Kashmiri people through brutal methods. In this context, only the European Parliament has passed a resolution, condemning New Delhi for human rights violations.
It seems that non-condemnation of Indian acts of massive human rights violations by the so-called civilized international community has further encouraged India to step-up its brutalities on the armless Kashmiri masses. Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds. India perhaps reached a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with Kashmiris, demanding their right of self-determination. Surprisingly, Indian successive governments are trying to ignore the dynamics of the Kashmiris movement for the freedom from the Indian rule. This indeed is the continuation of their resistance against the Dogra Rule, started in early part of the 20th century.
Besides the pre-planned assassination of the Muslim population, killing and harassment of Christians, entailing attacks on Churches by the Hindu fundamentalists have been continuing for the last ten years, adding a new dimension to Indian state terrorism.
Another obstacle in the interfaith harmony is that irresponsible attitude of some Indian, Israeli and Western politicians has introduced dangerous socio-religious dimension in their societies by equating the “war on terror” with “war on Islam” and acts of Al Qaeda with all the Muslims. Their media have also been contributing to heighten the currents of world politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam. In this connection, reprinting of the caricatures about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and release of a Dutch film against the Holy Quran in the recent past might be noted as an example.
No doubt, under the present international scenario, the very concept of interfaith harmony is facing serious threats. For instance, last month, a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida had planned to host an “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11, 2010. While, according to The Dove World Outreach Centre, this malicious event was planned to honour the victims of the tragic incident of 9/11. The event could be the beginning of a campaign against the Muslims and Islam. Maliciously, the handful people of Christian community associated with the Dove World Outreach Centre believe that the Muslims are responsible for the incident of 9/11. Although, still there are lot of assumptions, yet who planned that unfortunate incident?
Nonetheless, it is because of these developments that a greater resentment is being found among the Muslims who think that the US in connivance with the Indo-Israeli lobbies is sponsoring state terrorism, directly or indirectly from Kashmir to Palestine.
In this context, on October 19, 2007, the special issue of South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, under the caption-‘Working for India or against Islam? Islamophobia in Indian American Lobbies’ wrote, “In the past few years, Indian American community has gained an unprecedented visibility in the international arena and now constitutes influential ethnic lobbies in Washington. Among other factors, Hindu aligned with Jewish pressure groups in relation to the war against terrorism and to further the India-Israel-US strategic partnership play a major role in exaggerating Islamophobic overtones in the Indian American lobbies”.
By manipulating the present phenomena of world terrorism and anti-Muslim approach of the west, both India and Israel have been availing this golden opportunity to achieve their covert goals by convincing the US-led European states that a ‘nuclearized’ Pakistan is sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan and Kashmir. And Iran and Syria are doing the same act in Iraq, Lebanon and Israel. In this regard, equation of ‘war of liberation’ in Kashmir and Palestine with terrorism has become the main target of New Delhi and Tel Aviv who intend to divert the attention of the west from their own atrocities, being perpetrated in the occupied territories. In this connection, Israeli brutal attack on the naval aid flotilla which was carrying basic necessities of life for the besieged people of Gaza, presents a worst example of its kind.
Most alarming point in this context is that India and Israel for the sake of delaying the solution of Kashmir and Palestine under the pretext of so-called Islamic terrorism are not only creating obstacles in the East-West cooperation, but are also taking the world to the brink of clash of civilizations.
We can conclude that all the global unity and religious cooperation, we had before 9/11, have evaporated in the air because of the anti-Muslim campaign, particularly, conducted by Indo-Israeli lobbies which are creating obstacles in the interfaith harmony.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.