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Why Trump Is Surprisingly Good for Muslims

Does all this mean that Muslims should vote for the odious Donald Trump? Muslims should definitely consider voting third party in at least the non-swing states. But if one is planning to vote for either Clinton or Trump in a swing state, then hopefully I have presented good reasons to consider voting for Trump over Clinton in particular. In strategic terms, sometimes going against the most outwardly obvious path is what will yield the most fruit at the end.

trump adhan

During his 2015 State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama called for respecting human dignity. This call was met with applause. Obama then called for a rejection of anti-Semitism. Again, uproarious applause ensued. In the very next sentence, Obama called for a rejection of offensive Muslim stereotypes. Suddenly, dead silence. Apparently every politician and government official in the room, whether Democrat or Republican, was on board with stereotyping and profiling Muslims.

Fast forward to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. A father and mother of a slain American Muslim soldier spoke about their sacrifices for the country. And everyone there cheered and has been cheering ever since. Besides them, the convention included five other Muslim speakers including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Sherman Jackson, who both referenced hate and prejudice against Muslims in their addresses while Democratic Party members cheered.

So why the difference? What changed between Obama’s 2015 State of the Union and the 2016 DNC? Why did Obama’s call for tolerance get the silent treatment but the same call is cheered and championed a year later?

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As American Muslims, should we attribute this shift in attitudes to Hillary Clinton and the DNC organizers? Should we thank them for bringing about a new commitment from Democrats for diversity and tolerance of different faiths?

In reality, our actual benefactor — the one who is really responsible for putting Khizr and Ghazala Khan on stage that night — is someone much more orange in hue.

Here is a question: Would the Clinton campaign and the DNC have showcased seven different Muslims in the course of the convention if Donald Trump hadn’t made bigotry against Muslims so central to his campaign? There is no way to tell for sure, but if we understand the nature of oppositional politics in this country, there is much to suggest that American Muslims should be thanking Trump.

The “Islam Means Peace” Rule

As in the world of physics, in the world of presidential politics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Trump’s action is that he broke a long-standing rule about how to talk about Muslims in political discourse. I call it the “Islam Means Peace” Rule (or IMP Rule for short): You can denounce “radical Muslims.” You can imply that there are “extremist” interpretations of Islam and “violent Islamists” who adopt those interpretations. But you must never, ever imply that Islam itself is the problem. You must never, ever suggest that Muslims in general are terrorists or are sympathetic to terrorism. You must insist that “Islam means peace.”

In one of the first speeches that Bush made after the 9/11 attacks, he laid out the IMP Rule and thereby set the tone for respectable political dialogue about Islam and Muslims for the next 15 years. Throughout this time, there were always the Pamela Gellers on the right and the Bill Mahers on the left who shrilly warned that the problem was not “radical Islam” but Islam itself. But these voices were roundly ignored by a mainstream media committed to the Rule. Previous Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney also stuck closely to the Rule, but Trump became the first mainstream politician on the national stage to flout IMP in his clumsy crusade against “political correctness.” Instead of limiting his remarks to the “radicals,” his pronouncements are directed to Muslims more broadly. This is why the Muslim community around the world sees Trump as an apocalyptic harbinger of doom and destruction. The good news is, as a violator of the IMP Rule, Trump is seen by other politicians, both Democrat and Republican, as well as the mainstream media in the same light that most Muslims see him: As an uncouth bigot who must be opposed at every turn.

The Power of IMP

Understanding the IMP Rule and its power is the key to seeing how beneficial Trump really is to American Muslims. The most powerful moral narrative in the American conscience is the fight against racism. Racism is seen as the ultimate evil, universally regarding as a threat to civilization. The two greatest historical manifestations of evil in the collective American understanding is slavery and Nazism, and both manifestations were animated by racial discrimination. As Muslims, we recognize this as a part of our moral compass as well, as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) specifically called out the damaging ignorance and backwardness of mistreating others on the basis of skin color.

In the context of skin color, the odiousness of racism is clear, but outside that context, things become more murky. The racism narrative is so powerful that all varieties of interest groups and political parties attempt to tap into that narrative in order to mobilize people for their particular cause. The LGBT activist movement, for example, has been very explicit about this. Frank Bruni, the NYT’s first openly gay op-ed columnist, has argued that discrimination against people on the basis of sexual tendencies is tantamount to discrimination on the basis of skin color and that LGBT activists must use the language of the civil rights movement in order to advance their cause.

Muslims too have taken advantage of the racism narrative, arguing that discrimination on the basis of religious belief is tantamount to discrimination on the basis of skin color. But simply making the argument is not enough for society at large to believe that these are instances of racism and vile prejudice. The public has to be convinced that the group in question is the subject of systematic abuse, subjugation, violence, and unjust treatment in general.

anti mosque

The purpose of the IMP Rule then is to prevent the public from seeing Muslims in this light. The Rule is meant to project an image of Muslim tolerance, even celebration. This is important because, without this rosy image, many of the policies and regulations that were implemented against the American Muslim community and Muslim societies abroad in the aftermath of 9/11 would be seen for what they are: unjust targeting and systematic violence against one particular group of people.

For the public to see this treatment for what it is would make the idea of “Islamophobia” as a subgenre of racism that much more compelling to the average American, who is, due to the racism narrative, highly sensitive to anything with the slightest semblance of racial prejudice. And once the average American gets even a whiff of that and starts to see Muslims as victims, that would create a chain reaction of support and political mobilization for wider Muslim acceptance. This is why Trump has been and will continue to be a boon for American Muslims so long as he keeps up his heavy-handed, off-the-wall demonizing of Islam and Muslims.

Obama, Master of IMP

For President Obama, the IMP Rule has been monumentally important. Well-off and politically connected American Muslims are reluctant to believe this, but Obama has been a disaster for American Muslim rights. There has not been a single substantive anti-Muslim policy created under the Bush administration that has not been continued, expanded, or accelerated by the Obama administration.

In terms of foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan continue to suffer from the presence of a US military force. Obama’s infamous drone program has extended this death and destruction to Northwest Pakistan as well as Yemen, Somalia, and other Muslim regions. Libya, of course, was invaded under Obama’s directive and has been smoldering ever since. Under Obama, Israel felt at ease brutally pummeling a besieged Gaza in three separate operations, genocidal aggression that Obama awarded with record amounts of military aid stuffed into the pockets of the Israeli murder machine. And the failings of the Obama administration to broker peace in Syria while also tacitly supporting the bloody military coup in Egypt and the Sisi regime has been nothing but an unmitigated disaster.

Hand in hand with the terror Obama has unleashed against Muslims abroad are his domestic “anti-terror” policies, policies which for all intents and purposes target Muslims and attack their civil rights. Obama’s Orwellian CVE program, which essentially saddles the entire Muslim community with assumed guilt for terrorism, is only the tip of the iceberg. His FBI has perfected and regularized an aggressive Muslim entrapment program which was used only sparingly in the Bush years. His NSA datamines Muslim online activity and communication and feeds that information to other agencies which disproportionately and unfairly target Muslims. Local police departments have, through generous grants and guidance from Obama’s DHS, spied on Muslims and created databases cataloging Muslims and their day-to-day activities. The secret No-Fly list, which lists predominantly Muslims, none of whom have any proven ties to terrorism, has ballooned to at least ten times its size under Obama.

white house iftar

By any objective standard, Obama has been a much worse president for Muslims than Bush Jr. But the American Muslim community itself seems to be completely unaware of this and will bitterly deny it. This is because they have fallen into the seductive web of the IMP Rule. Obama perfected the Rule. He made the Rule into a fine art. His paeans to the American Muslim community and even Islam as a religion are unmatched. That’s why Muslims love him — no politician has spoken more glowingly and more eloquently in praise of Muslims. No president has appointed more Muslims into his administration or invited more Muslims to have iftar or Eid dinner at the White House. Clearly a president who goes out of his way to recognize and celebrate Muslims is not actively curtailing their rights and sabotaging their interests!

Alas, the truth is not as picturesque as those lavish White House iftars would lead us to believe. What Obama has proven is the efficacy of the iron fist when it is wearing a velvet glove. The IMP Rule is precisely that velvet glove, and Obama has worn it masterfully. As a result, the “anti-terror” programs — which have stripped American Muslims of so many of their civil rights and which the Bush-era Democrats denounced as the “Shredding of the Constitution” — overnight transformed into bipartisan consensus once Obama endorsed them. And it is that bipartisan consensus that has increasingly shifted public sentiment against Muslims over the past eight years, up until last year’s State of the Union, where even calls for basic civility towards Muslims were met with cold, indifferent silence from the nation’s lawmakers.

But Trump has changed all that. Trump has no patience for the niceties of velvet. His talk of monitoring Muslims and controlling their movement in and out of the country have plenty of precedent in Obama’s policies. Ironically, in fact, Obama’s policies are sometimes even worse than what Trump claims to want to do as president. The only thing that is novel about Trump is the way he talks about Muslims. And as Muslims, we should welcome this frankness. Strategically speaking, we should prefer a president who will wear his hatred of us on his sleeve as opposed to one who smiles in our face while implementing all manner of policy against us under the table. Better the devil you know.

What If Trump Wins?

If Trump wins the presidency, the Democrats will likely latch on to the Muslim cause like never before. We saw shades of this during the Bush terms. Glenn Greenwald said it best:

“The Democrats have been opposed to so many things when Bush was President that they, since 2009, stand up and cheer when President Obama does them. I know that because I was working on civil liberties during the Bush Administration. Things like droning people to death, even Americans, on the grounds that they’re terrorists without having to go to court and present evidence. Obviously, not just keeping Guantanamo open, but continuing to imprison people without charges. These are all things, certainly spying on people without warrants, that Democrats pretended to oppose when George Bush was in the Oval Office that they now either quietly acquiesce to or vocally support now that there is a Democrat in power.”

As journalists like Greenwald have noted time and again, in the Bush days, the Democratic establishment actually took on pro-Muslim causes like closing Guantanamo Bay and opposing Muslim profiling and detention programs. But as soon as Obama became president, all that righteous concern went out the window. The Democrats no longer had any reason to oppose anti-Muslim policies once they were in power. And the GOP saw an opportunity to portray any last vestige of pro-Muslim sentiment on the parts of Obama and the Dems as being “soft on terror,” which had the expected outcome of making Obama even more reluctant to do anything substantial to roll back, much less overturn, the bevy of programs infringing on Muslim rights.

gitmo obama

A Trump president, however, will bring that righteous pro-Muslim fervor back with a vengeance. The initiative to feature the Khan family at the DNC and the media success that followed proved to the Dems that they can once again use American Muslims as a stick to beat their GOP counterparts. The fact that Trump is so overtly bigoted, the fact that he shuns the IMP Rule so shamelessly, will only make Democrats respond with that much more sanctimonious intensity.

If Trump is president, expect a significant uptick in mosque visits from the Dems. Expect a lot more Congressional pushback on anti-Muslim policies that have hitherto enjoyed bipartisan support. Expect a lot more positive media coverage on the Muslim community in general.

Muslims are also worried that a President Trump means he will implement the ludicrous anti-Muslim policies he has proposed on the campaign trail, e.g., implementing special Muslim ID badges and banning Muslims from entering the country. This rhetoric should be taken for what it is: grandstanding bluster with no real chance of materialization. As I have argued elsewhere, the Obama administration has already facilitated far-reaching measures to catalogue and track religiously observant Muslims in this country, which is functionally equivalent to the issuing of ID badges, so Trump wouldn’t be adding much to what his predecessor has done already. Besides this, even if Trump wanted to force Muslims to get ID badges, he would face a firestorm of political opposition. Similarly with banning Muslims from the country, a proposal that even GOP leaders have denounced.

Only God knows, but to the contrary, four years of Trump could mean American Muslims as an identity group finally attain that elusive mainstream status, where it becomes politically incorrect to even imply that Muslims are inherently inclined to terrorism and therefore must be profiled, monitored, detained without charges, and controlled.

What About Hate Crimes?

Some have argued that if Trump were to win, that would vindicate his anti-Muslim rhetoric and bring out the worst in violent racists. Certainly, there has been an increase in violence directed at Muslims since Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015. But, there has also been a marked increase in terror attacks on Western soil in this same time period. The national debate on Syrian refugees has also played a significant part in stoking nativist anti-Muslim bias. Outside of Trump’s rhetoric, both of these factors could independently account for at least some, if not most, of the increase in anti-Muslim violence.

But if, God forbid, the rate of such terror attacks remains consistent over the next four years, wouldn’t it be far better to have someone in the Oval Office who is less vitriolic to Muslims than Trump?

This is debatable. In actuality, there is not a clear correlation between presidential rhetoric and tenor, on the one hand, and hate crimes and bias, on the other. Obama’s presidency provides the perfect example of this. People expected that race relations would significantly improve upon the election of the first black president, when, as it turns out, the exact opposite occurred. Anti-black racism has significantly increased during Obama’s two terms than in prior years. There has been a surge in the number of white supremacist chapters and “patriot” groups around the country, which also correlates with an increase in bias attacks against different minority groups, including Muslims.

southern poverty law center racism

How do we explain this seemingly paradoxical increase in racism and violence under Obama? Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center suggests that much of the increase is tied to the anxieties of beleaguered working-class and middle-class white people who have suffered due to increasing income inequality and other economic factors. As these groups perceive society to become more diverse and less white, they react with anger and violence directed at those minorities imagined to be most threatening. In this way, paradoxically, a black president in power can increase anti-black racism while a white conservative, even bigoted president in power can actually decrease it.

A Trump presidency could have the same effect on anti-Muslim bias. Having him in office would do much to appease these racist white factions, which would lower anxieties and ease tensions, potentially resulting in less negativity towards Muslims and mosques.

Hate Crime Under Obama: The Case of Park51

As further insight into this dynamic, consider the year 2010, which saw 53 mosque attacks that year, whereas 2015, the year of the rise of Trump, saw 78 (data and bar chart below can be found here). Back in 2010, ISIS had not yet emerged and there had not been a single major Muslim-related terror incident in the US or Europe that year. 2015, in contrast, saw ten of them with death tolls in the hundreds and nearly around-the-clock media coverage throughout the year, not to mention the Syrian refugee crisis to boot. Why, then, was 2010 a horrendous year for American mosques with such a seemingly Muslim-friendly president in the White House?

2010 mosque attacks

Well, this was also the year of the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, where a Muslim community center and mosque, Park51, was planned to be built two blocks away from the World Trade Center site. There was an uproar from both Democratic and Republican national leaders arguing that building a mosque in that place was a “violation of sacred ground.” At first President Obama seemed to support the building of the mosque, but after getting blasted by Republicans, he later backtracked and clarified that he would not comment on “the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.”

This incident perfectly encapsulates the dynamics of American political discourse surrounding Muslims. When Republicans are not in power, they have great incentive to portray Dems as soft on terror and, like trained puppies, the Dems respond with cold indifference, if not outright callousness, to Muslims and their interests. This creates an antagonistic bipartisan consensus on Muslim issues which further feeds public paranoia and an atmosphere of anti-Muslim hate, which inevitably leads to mosque attacks and other acts of bias.

ground zero mosque

What If Clinton Wins?

A Clinton presidency would further anger white supremacists and other bias groups, making them feel like the walls are quickly closing in on them. This could have devastating results, as the GOP would, in the interests of oppositionalism and reactionary politics, shift further in the direction of nativism and racially-charged rhetoric in order to capitalize on the raw emotions of their disaffected base. They would also continue to paint Democrats as soft on terror, as the anti-Muslim elements across the country would be incensed, not quieted, that their beloved crusader failed in his White House bid.

In reaction to this, Clinton would shift right as well, which would all but ensure the continuation and likely expansion of Obama’s anti-Muslim policies. Of course, this would all be done with smiles and White House iftars galore, i.e., the IMP Rule in all its slimy glory.

Even without this shift, Clinton has more than proven herself to be hostile to Muslim interests, both abroad and at home, even more so than Obama, which is saying something in itself. Like Trump, she has embraced the term “radical Islam” and believes that a muscular surveillance state is key to national security and fighting “homegrown terror.” She has proven herself to be an arch-Zionist, even more antagonistic to Palestinian life than Bush, Obama, or Trump. Her hawkish stance toward the Middle East should be enough by itself to give any conscionable Muslim pause for concern. She has demonstrated support for the US-funded dictators across the Arab world, and has even befriended them.

sisi clinton

Does all this mean that Muslims should vote for the odious Donald Trump? Muslims should definitely consider voting third party in at least the non-swing states. But if one is planning to vote for either Clinton or Trump in a swing state, then hopefully I have presented good reasons to consider voting for Trump over Clinton in particular. In strategic terms, sometimes going against the most outwardly obvious path is what will yield the most fruit at the end.

And, of course, there may be other reasons unrelated to Muslim interests to support Clinton over Trump, though as commentators like Mobeen Vaid have argued, American Muslims need to reconsider their reflexive alignment with liberals, while developing a political culture which is based on or at least informed by their religious values, instead of simply parroting “Red vs. Blue” political bickering.

Putting these concerns aside and focusing on the issue of which candidate, Trump or Clinton, is relatively better for Muslims in the short and long term, there is no question.

 

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43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Avatar

    bruce

    August 4, 2016 at 2:17 PM

    This is an excellent and well-thought out piece. As a ‘conservative’ Muslim who is watching the news with growing alarm and sadness, I despise Trump. However, getting an Honors’ in Political Science has taught me to sometimes analyze a different view point, and I agree that a Trump presidency could actually be more beneficial to American Muslims than a Clinton one, ESPECIALLY in the longer term.

    If Clinton wins, you can be sure that in 2020 (and 2024 if she gets that far), there will be a critical mass of vitriol and hatred against a lot of minority groups in the US/ Canada.

  2. Avatar

    Khalil Muhsin

    August 4, 2016 at 3:15 PM

    EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Mahmoud

    August 4, 2016 at 4:03 PM

    This article is very well written, its allowed me to see things from another perspective. I already knew that Clinton is far worse than Trump, and she has a track record to prove it.
    Although in my opinion, it seems that unfortunately a Clinton presidency will be the most likely outcome.
    However, I will still vote 3rd party at least to dismay from this corrupt 2 party system.
    Regardless, inshaAllah khair.
    :)

    • Avatar

      Ali

      August 4, 2016 at 9:30 PM

      Unfortunately the entire American system is corrupt :)

  4. Avatar

    SBZ

    August 4, 2016 at 5:26 PM

    The Guardian actually had a video on this theory a few months ago that was very intriguing:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2016/may/11/trump-has-to-be-the-next-president-american-history-dictates-it-video

    I, myself, mused this possibility until the fever piitch at which prejudice (Islamophobia in particular) and racism have reached as a direct result of Trump’s hate speech and rabble rousing. It is absolutely not just because of an increase in terror attacks as there has not been a marked increase. Furthermore, the vitriol he and his most zealous followers have displayed even for a Gold Star family (the question of serving in the US military aside) just because they were Muslim and, most terrifyingly, Donald Trump confirmed to have been insistent on questioning senior officials (in closed private quarters and not publicly!) as to why the USA can’t just use nukes sealed the deal for me. This man absolutely must be voted out into oblivion with a solid bloc.

    There is way too much at stake to muse theories at this point. This is a man who can not be allowed to ascend to the United States presidency just because we think MAYBE it’ll placate his insane followers into laying off. These circumstances require realism not hypothesis.

    • Avatar

      Daniel Haqiqatjou

      August 4, 2016 at 6:18 PM

      There has been a marked increase in terror attacks throughout 2015 and the first half of 2016 in the US and EU. Please see the data the article cites. I’m not so sure the presumption that Clinton will be better for Muslims than Trump is any less hypothetical…

      • Avatar

        Abdul Malik Mujahid

        August 6, 2016 at 5:50 PM

        The article is powerfully written but does contain many false information.

        Take for example this passage: “…in the Bush days, the Democratic establishment actually took on pro-Muslim causes like closing Guantanamo Bay and opposing Muslim profiling and detention programs. But as soon as Obama became president, all that righteous concern went out the window..”

        Not true.

        1: who presented 110 anti Muslim laws, Republicans, who opposed them Democrats;

        2: When Republican Rep Peter King started his McCarthy style hearings at Congress who opposed him Democrats.

        3. who has been consistent in not using terms like “Islamic” with fascism, terrorism, extremism? Democrats in power and out of power.

        4. for the last 16 years whose party conventions required diversity which provided opportunity for Muslims to participated in the political process. Democratic Party.

        ========== We must not be cynical. Our political participation is not about Hillary or Trump, it is for our own political empowerment. And this election everyone is talking about Islam and Muslims, let Muslims organize America to liberate itself from fear, hate and anger which will destroy. I cannot imaging people arguing for Trump here.

  5. Avatar

    rm

    August 4, 2016 at 9:21 PM

    Pretty sure CAIR rejected ithe Obama administration expansion of surveillance state programs targeting Muslims. That they did not buy into narrative that everything was good for the Muslim community

  6. Avatar

    Christian

    August 4, 2016 at 10:38 PM

    Jesus loves you so much he died for you on the cross.

    Does allah love you?

    • Avatar

      Masood

      August 5, 2016 at 12:27 AM

      Paraphasic error; He loved us so much…But I do not understand why God would send his son to be killed by man so that man could be forgiven?
      It is most logically to believe that Jesus was God’s prophet

      • Avatar

        Madiha Khan

        August 8, 2016 at 1:34 AM

        Very well said, Tell him we are not here to fight with christians or jews , but we are guiding them in the right way and brother masood you have put a very good answer to him !!

    • Avatar

      Mohammad

      August 12, 2016 at 8:29 AM

      Yes. It is His grace that He brought us to this world and guided us trough Quran. He is Everlasting and loves His creation.

    • Avatar

      Haroon

      September 5, 2016 at 1:48 PM

      Even if we were to believe for the sake of this discussion that Jesus peace be upon him died on the cross for us, would we then thank the servant(Jesus S.A.W) who had to obey his master? Or the Master (Allah)who supposedly sent him to die for us? I wonder how you our christian friends managed to get the unquestionable Authority of Allah (God) mixed up in this rather extreme way.

    • Avatar

      Maria Elias

      November 7, 2016 at 9:47 AM

      Allah Almighty created our beloved Jesus. He is not his son, God does not need a son. Jesus is a very special prophet who taught us to only worship Our Lord, One God, and to always do good. How can Jesus save us when he couldn’t save himself? Also, does this mean I can do anything I want good or bad since all sins will be forgiven, Jesus will save us. None sense! Everyone is accountable for their own actions. Educate yourself. Start by reading and understanding your bible. You’ll be amazed how much Muslims follow the teachings of Jesus more than Christians do.
      Peace.

      Great article, eyeopening.

  7. Avatar

    Christian

    August 4, 2016 at 10:39 PM

    Jesus loves you so much he died for you on the cross for you.

    Does allah love you?

    • Avatar

      Masood

      August 5, 2016 at 12:31 AM

      And thus, both Jesus (peace be upon Him) and Allah ( the Arabic word for the One and only God) love those who love God and do so through gratitude, actions, and submission to the Divine commands and etiquettes.

    • Avatar

      Masood Ahmed

      August 5, 2016 at 2:24 AM

      Allah is known as Wadud, which means full of love. Jesus and Muhammad blessings on them equally worshipped Him. And we love them for teaching excellence and compassion for fellow humans. http://www.solution-for-peace.com

    • Avatar

      Guest

      August 5, 2016 at 5:36 PM

      Yes, yea he does mr Christian

    • Avatar

      Wisam

      August 28, 2016 at 9:28 AM

      All loves all people of the world

  8. Avatar

    Ali

    August 4, 2016 at 11:00 PM

    ANY MUSLIM THAT SUPPORTERS TRUMP IS INSULTING TO OTHERS. Trump has lied, conned, exaggerated, his way into the arena with racism and bigotry like no other who has run for office.

    “Let’s ban these ppl but hey there are some good ppl” has been his line (fill in the “ppl” with a minority.

    His ego is going to be the downfall of USA, and the death of many in the world due to his lack of knowledge, humility and decency.

    As a Muslim, sometimes I wish he would win but would love to see his face when he loses.

  9. Avatar

    Mahamoud Haji

    August 5, 2016 at 12:28 AM

    Excellent Analysis. Obama’s posture with respect to Islam reminds me of the concept and practice of Taqiyyah (deception). He has perfected this fooing many a Muslim. I agree a Trump presidency could be a boon for the Muslim community. Remember the Prophet’s (SAW) Saying on the win-win affairs of the Mu’min

  10. Avatar

    Andrew

    August 5, 2016 at 1:43 AM

    The “No Israel Without Hitler” argument. I have seen it before. Go ahead and vote for Trump. People seem to forget what happened next.

    • Avatar

      Matt

      August 29, 2016 at 2:45 PM

      Seriously. The whole argument comes down to picking the people that hate us most and hoping people’s sympathy and pity overpowers giving anti-Muslim bigots power.

  11. Avatar

    Masood Ahmed

    August 5, 2016 at 2:26 AM

    MashaAllah well written.
    British Prime Minister, Theresa May dismisses white peoples fears on Islam
    https://solution-for-peace.com/2016/01/03/british-prime-minister-theresa-may/#.V6QxYGh96Uk

  12. Avatar

    Eahab

    August 5, 2016 at 6:47 AM

    The flaw in this reasoning of this article is assuming Hilary Clinton is no longer using the IMP rule. Its merely that for her the good Muslims live here, and the bad Muslims live within the reach of the weaponry sold to us by her defense contractor benefactors. For Hillary, we must kill the Muslims over there, for Trump we also must stop them from coming here

    • Avatar

      Time to correct

      September 13, 2016 at 8:32 PM

      Clinton is a fake and a liar. She has changed her mind on many subjects. She wants one thing, to be president. She will use anyone and everyone to achieve this aim. Once she has done with using Muslims, she will betray, this is her way. Do not make a mistake by voting for her.

      Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas: The Prophet then said, “I saw Paradise (or Paradise was shown to me), and I stretched my hand to pluck a bunch (of grapes), and had I plucked it, you would have eaten of it as long as this world exists. Then I saw the (Hell) Fire, and I have never before, seen such a horrible sight as that, and I saw that the majority of its dwellers were women.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the reason for that?” He replied, “Because of their ungratefulness.” It was said. “Do they disbelieve in Allah (are they ungrateful to Allah)?” He replied, “They are not thankful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors done to them. Even if you do good to one of them all your life, when she seems some harshness from you, she will say, “I have never seen any good from you.’ “

  13. Avatar

    Omer

    August 5, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    Great Analysis. .Very Well written article!!!

  14. Avatar

    Ikram

    August 5, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    I am praying that no matter what happens that Islam comes out on top. More than never before in any election, the importance of having a strong 3rd party is vital for US politics. Time to set aside the Presidential Elections as just another celebrity event, and instead concentrate deeply in local constituents for the sake of America.

  15. Avatar

    Ubaid

    August 5, 2016 at 3:13 PM

    Good article. YMCA rule was broken as far back as 2004 mostly by the Republican candidates. I have wrirren a few articles about this.
    http://caravandaily.com/portal/trump-gingrich-team-bodes-double-trouble-for-us-muslims/

  16. Avatar

    P314IE

    August 7, 2016 at 4:32 PM

    I don’t buy it. Trump hasn’t caused a bunch of pro-muslim sentiment to surface. He’s just moved the dialogue backwards to the point that SUPPORTING THE STATUS QUO is now considered pro-muslim, compared to the alternative.

    If you take two steps backwards, one step forward will be progress. And in fact, if we as a country take two steps back, it will be relatively easy to take one step forward! But overall, that’s not something to aim for.

    Maybe Democrats will be able to block new anti-muslim legislation (of course, maybe they won’t.) Maybe when they regain power, they’ll repeal some of Trump’s worst policies (but maybe they won’t.) But then that will be claimed as a major victory, they’ll shout MISSION ACCOMPLISHED without making anything better.

  17. Avatar

    Yasin

    August 8, 2016 at 8:51 PM

    By your rationale Jews should thank butler for helping them combat European antisemitism.

  18. Avatar

    Arshad

    August 9, 2016 at 2:03 AM

    Thanks brother Daniel for a well written article, though I agree with the facts, but my conclusion is different.
    Many Republican candidate played against or beyond IMP rule, but Trump was best to become Republican candidate. If he becomes America’s President, tomorrow, Islam as the ultimate evil and a threat to American civilization might become a reality.
    Few decades later, Islam might become the third greatest historical manifestations of evil in the collective American understanding after slavery and Nazism, but at the cost of ?
    Yes, Bush created anti-muslims policy, and Obama rode on it. Bush invaded Afghanistan & Iraq, and Obama drone on it. They both are bad, but who is worst ? Think !
    I agree with Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid’s comment “Our political participation is not about Hillary or Trump, it is for our own political empowerment.”
    The closest historical lesson, I think we can learn is from our neighbor, Canada’s conservative party’s Ex-leader and Canada’s ex-Prime “Stephen Harper”, not only his views were similar to Trump, but he practically tried implementing them. Just google “harper muslims canada”. Thanks to Allah and the people of Canada for getting rid of him.
    Lastly, it is good to argue with solid understanding and knowledge, let the debate go on, but be united, when it comes to delivery. Even if we err, we will be rewarded.

  19. Avatar

    Ahmad B Hassanat

    August 20, 2016 at 4:11 PM

    The question is not who will be better for Muslims; it is who is going to do less harm to Muslims if he/she wins?
    it is shame to find in the greatest democracy in the world that the people of America are obliged to choose one of two bad candidates, hoping for the less worse instead of choosing the best, this is not a real democracy where the elite decided for the people and they just have to add their final touch !

  20. Avatar

    Ruth Nasrullah

    August 24, 2016 at 12:33 AM

    If only there were such a person as presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    One of the grave dangers of his candidacy is that he has no core beliefs and backs off of every position he’s promoted. He is now walking away from the cornerstone of his campaign – anti-Hispanic hysteria. He will embrace Muslims tomorrow if his advisors tell him it’s good for his campaign. He’s just a vessel, both for his supporters and for his advisors.

    A Trump presidency wouldn’t be driven by the man himself, but by the people closely influencing him. His new campaign lead is Steve Bannon, the head of the propaganda rag Breitbart.com: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/us/politics/stephen-bannon.html Think of people like this running the presidency.

  21. Avatar

    Matt

    August 29, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    Give the people who spread anti-Muslim rhetoric what they want, because if they don’t get it, their racists will get even angrier? This is some Stockholm Syndrome level logic.

    One candidate is promising equal rights and protection under the law. The other has mulled over the idea of special IDs, deportations, and restricted freedom of movement for Muslims.

  22. Avatar

    fen ce

    September 2, 2016 at 3:03 PM

    how dare you speak on that date?….bi-opsy…..! WE want it back…NOW!

  23. Avatar

    HORAY-

    September 2, 2016 at 3:06 PM

    applauds…clap clap…really good SPEECH…….

    before 100 days or not…or even if we have to wait for the next 100 years…..satan’s time is up…not u mr. quack quack…I direct my little speech at that prat…..satan just like stan…I am your fan…..NOT!

  24. Avatar

    mcao larof

    September 13, 2016 at 8:19 AM

    Hello every one,
    I am Mccert, a private loan lender who gives life time opportunity loans.. Do you need a loan to pay off your bills and debts? Do you need funds to expand your business? Do you have bad credit card? Have you been rejected by credit union, banks and other financial agencies? So Worry no more, for we are here to render financial assistance to your loan crisis. We offer loan at a very reliable beneficiary low interest rate, we are also certify and accredited by government to issues out financial assistance to those who are in financial crisis. We are reputable, genuine and legitimate loan lender. Our lenders lend on deals from $1,000.00 and upto $50,000,000.00 USD
    If interested kindly contact us via email: financialhome34 @ outlook com

  25. Avatar

    Abid Syed

    October 14, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    Excellent article; I apple to USA Muslim they should not consider to vote third party, all Muslims should vote to one party and be counted for there unanimity; it is time to create united front as we have done in Canada though it took time to come together may be not 100% at this stage; with thanks to our first generations; we shall see same in USA.
    As we say in Canada
    IN CANADA WE STAND AND UNDERSTAND TOGETHER
    Wassalam
    Abid Syed
    Canada

  26. Avatar

    DI

    November 12, 2016 at 3:14 PM

    “Three months after Trump declared his infamous Muslim ban last December, his campaign according to Arab diplomatic sources, reached out to different Middle East embassies in Washington, DC. The message from the Trump campaign to key Arab diplomats last Spring was a plea to “ignore Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail.”

    http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/11/10/Donald-Trump-and-the-Middle-East-Ignore-the-campaign-rhetoric-.html

  27. Avatar

    Matt L

    April 20, 2018 at 10:54 AM

    I feel it important to come back to this piece now 2 years later and remind folks of just how insane this idea was.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/20/the-threat-of-white-radical-extremism-in-the-age-of-trump/?utm_term=.93f3f89668e9

  28. Avatar

    SBZ

    September 26, 2019 at 2:46 PM

    How utterly ridiculous does the author and all his drones who lauded this article look today nearly 4 years later? Trump is insistently fighting to place Muslim US Citizens like Bilal Abdul Kareem on a kill list, emboldening Israel like no other period in its previous history, giving a legitimized voice to Islamophobes whose rhetoric was previously only on InfoWars and websites with bad HTML but is now the mainstream, strengthening tyrants like MbS, MbZ and Sisi who are now free to kidnap and murder US Citizens, and the list goes on and on.

    You all are the reason why we will never succeed in this country.

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#Current Affairs

In The Name of God: A Communal Rupture Sowed By Communal Legacy

At one point of time, there used to be a mosque in Ayodhya. It stood tall and lofty for 470 long years, until a mob of extremist Hindu fanatics came at it with axes and pickets and razed it to the ground. Stemming from the popular belief that it was the birthplace of the mythological figure of the warrior Hindu god called Ram, the act was carried out for the future construction of a temple devoted to him, and one that had to be erected at the same spot where the 16th century mosque had existed for so long. 

“All we need for the betterment of life is Lord Ram, and there is no survival without Lord Ram”.

The supporters of the Ram Janmabhoomi cause kept reiterating this loud and clear in Anand Patwardhan’s documentary film Ram ke Naam (In The Name of God), that still serves as the single-most myth busting source centred round the whole dispute. But this very claim itself is based on partial accounts that stem from loose historicity, as depicted in the footage.

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On December 22 1949, Lord Ram was said to have appeared in the dream of a priest in Ayodhya, who along with a few other men installed an idol of the god inside the mosque in the dead of night. The film tracked down one of the priests who had participated in the plan, and identified him as Mahant Ramsevak Das Shastri. He claimed that the erstwhile district magistrate K.K. Nayar was also an organiser of this act and had ensured that Shastri and the others accused were released on bail. Although generally identified as the first breach of communal trust that gradually gave rise to the whole dispute, in truth, this religious fundamentalism has its roots running deeper than most of us fully grasp or acknowledge. 

Even at present, about a dozen places in India and Nepal claim to be the potential birthplace of Ram and there is no consensus among Hindu scholars and historians regarding the same. Ayodhya has been housing many Ram temples since the 19th century, and incidentally, quite a lot of them had claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram at one point of time or the other. After the construction of the Babri Masjid in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, historic records show that the first instance of communal riots in the area was not before 1855. Sunni Muslims clashed with Bairai Hindus in the area claiming that the temple of Hanumangarhi (for the Hindu mythological figure Lord Hanuman) was built where once stood an already demolished mosque. Nawab Wajid Ali, the then ruler of Ayodhya promptly intervened and made peace, but not before the incident caught the attention of the colonial overlords. This took place just two years prior to the Great Revolt of 1857. It was the first known pan-Indian unified struggle for independence, and one that was founded upon the Hindu-Muslim unity which had been turning into a growing threat for the ruling East India Company. And of all the temples claiming to be the holy birthplace of Lord Ram, the British chose a mosque having Mughal origins to be the designated one for spreading the rumour that Babur had constructed it after destroying what was once a temple housing Lord Ram’s original birthplace. 

As this notion started gaining momentum, the British installed a fence on the premise, which led to an arrangement that had the Muslims praying inside the inner court and the Hindus being allowed to use the outer courtyard. This communal understanding and secular practice went on and in peace till 1949, until the breach orchestrated by Nayar occurred. 

The 1949 breach then led to communal rifts, which was followed by the mosque being sealed. This marked the beginning of how those in power have been manipulating the masses for centuries, either for ensuring a vote bank, or being mostly fueled by a blind sense of religious fanaticism that made them feel empowered over other religions. 

Repeated petitions were filed to open the locks and allow namaz inside the mosque. While the inner court was kept out of bounds, puja was allowed to be carried out in the outer courtyard. As many as four suits were filed between 1950 and 1961 asking for the restoration of the Muslims’ right to pray, none of which were heeded. Twenty years later, the Sunni Waqf Board finally filed a suit for complete possession of the site, and the one which turned out to be the final blow. Hindu groups in turn formed a committee to protect their rights, and the plan to construct the Ram temple was spearheaded, causing the Ram Janmabhoomi movement gaining momentum like never before, with erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) member L. K. Advani giving leadership to the same. 

It was no less than a “political game”, according to the court appointed priest Laldas, who was charged with tending to the Ram idol after the mosque was sealed. During his tenure from 1983 to 1992, he was known to have been critically vocal against the whole Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the premeditated conspiracy that was growing around Babri at that time. He was removed from service 9 months prior to the demolition act and was found to be shot dead a year later under mysterious circumstances. 

“BJP does not believe in Ram, only in hatred…the Hindu Parishad members have never made a single offering or prayed at the temple even once,” he had told Patwardhan during an interview clip in the documentary. 

Surprisingly, none of the subjects that Patwardhan approached in the film knew exactly when Lord Ram was born, or at least even in which century. Not the poor tanner squatting on the ground, not the first year law student brandishing a sword before the march to Ayodhya and not even the saffron clad priest inside the air conditioned Toyota van. But all of them were unwaveringly certain in their belief that Ram’s birthplace was none other than Babri, and how it has been a known fact for many years. 

It was December 6, 1992 that witnessed the right wing mobilisation movement carry out the act of political vandalism quite unparalleled in the modern world, leading to subsequent communal riots, and a massacre which the country has not completely recovered from since. Babri was destroyed. 

Twenty seven years, varying heartbeats, deadly communal violence acts and the loss of about 5,000 odd lives later, the landmark justice on the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was delivered. 9th November 2019 was a date that meant too much to too many people. It was a day that either meant the end to so many years of rioting, divisibility and cut-throat communalism, or a further tint in the already widening secular fabric of the nation. 

2019 was also the year that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term and had implemented a number of administrative decisions that gave BJP’s Hindu supremacist ideology a new momentum and utmost urgency. One of the first things that he did after taking office was revoke the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, which had so far granted the internationally disputed Muslim dominated region of Kashmir a special status independent of Indian jurisdiction. The abrogation allowed Kashmir to be reinvaded by a strong Indian military, annexed to the Indian subcontinent and put under complete curfew with an internet blackout. And exactly one year later, Prime Minister Modi is about to lay the foundation stone for the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya on the site of the demolished mosque on August 5, 2020, as thanks to the landmark verdict on the decades-spanning historic wound that has completely redefined the politics of the country, the forces responsible for the demolition had found themselves in complete legal possession of the land. 

For many blinded by irrational faith and hyper nationalism, the judgement reinstated the inherent vice of fanatic Hindutva ideology in the sense that their religion is all superior, and one that fuels the necessity to construct the Ram temple at the very spot of the Babri Masjid. But to others still believing in the idea of the independent India that awoke at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15th August 1947, the judgement could have very well been a bigger, and more dangerous rupture in the democratic and secular pillars of the country than the actual act of the demolition itself. 

The current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who was charged with overseeing the construction of the temple had gone on record as early as 2017 during a pre-election campaign to promise a Ram Mandir

Agar Samajwadi Party jeetegi to Karbala-kabristan banega, jabki Bhajapa ki Sarkar banegi toh Ayodhya mein Ram mandir banega.

30 years ago it was L.K. Advani who had promised that Mandir wahi Banega and today, it is Yogi Adityanath, the third face in line on the saffron political firmament, who is delivering on this promise.

Vikas Pathak, who is a professor at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, said that this is Hindutva’s true and unalloyed form, one that was supposedly hidden beneath layers of political exigencies for so many years leading up to this. This claim is further supported by an independent multimedia journalist in Kashmir, who said he feels the same due to the obvious choice of the date of inauguration. Requesting to be anonymous, he expressed his thoughts on how this is more of a planned move than a mere coincidence, and one which gives out a clear message.

The fact that it’s happening on the anniversary of the repeal of Kashmir’s autonomy, accentuates the importance that the Modi government places on its aggressive pursuit of a Hindu nationalist agenda”, also augmented Michael Kugelman in his comment on the matter. He is senior associate of the Wilson Center and the deputy director of its Asia Program. 

Just like Jai Shree Ram, this Mandir agenda too had been normalised into one which sounded like a clarion call for battle. In Patwardhan’s film, an unnamed Congress politician held a campaign where he asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that if indeed a Ram temple should be built, why could it not be anywhere else in the city, as Ayodhya is such a large place. 

“I am amazed at this stubbornness that they will build the temple at the very same spot! And that too, only after destroying the mosque… He (Advani) can easily build a temple anywhere in Ayodhya, but please do not insist that this can only be possible by demolishing an existing mosque. I want to promise that the temple will most definitely be built, but the mosque must also remain.”

As we went on to see in the film, and even twenty seven years down the line, it was firmly decided that Mandir wahi banega, and one existing holy site was destroyed to give rise to another. Come November 2019,  the temple plan gets sanctioned by the Supreme Court of India as well, ironically granting the Sunni Waqf board an alternate piece of land to construct their mosque instead.

While the 5-judge bench lay claim to the demolishing act accepting it as a crime, and while they also accepted that the installation of the idols inside the mosque was an act of desecration, it also gave the land over to those who desecrated it at the same time. A judge on the bench had called it “one of the most important cases in the world,” but when the perpetrators of what the Supreme Court has openly identified as a crime find themselves to be the main beneficiaries of the judgement, it brings to question how just the verdict actually is.

Quite bizarrely, the court had declared that while there was some evidence of Hindus worshipping on the disputed site, no such documentary evidence could be found in the case of Muslims until before 1857. 

“The mosque was built in 1528, and the area was under Mughal occupation till 1722. Then it was ruled by Nawabs, and finally annexed by the British in 1856. It must be self-evident that during this entire period of being under Muslim rule, Muslims were offering namaz inside the mosque and not the other way round”, said a Kashmiri student currently studying at Jadavpur University in Kolkata on the condition of anonymity, adding how such a reasoning based on “balance of probabilities” as one of the reasons to give it to the Hindu side is itself one of inequality. 

On the other hand, the judgement also referred to a 574 pages long report published by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) 15 years ago, which claimed that Babri Masjid was not built on vacant land. Reading the unanimous judgement and considering the report valid on the assurance of being scientifically tested, Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi who was leading the bench said: 

“There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”

While the court relied heavily on this ASI report, independent archaeologists who observed the site on behalf of the Sunni Waqf board differed entirely with the ASI findings. While the six month long court ordered investigation did reveal the existence of an underlying structure beneath the mosque, eminent archaeologists Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon believe that the evidence collected on their part do not support the claims made by ASI. 

Their report read: “underneath the Babri, there existed older mosques.” 

They further added that even if the underlying structures were not of Islamic origin, they closely resembled Buddhist stupas at the most, and in no way anything remotely close to a Hindu temple. This particular claim is in turn also supported by the archaeological surveyor Alexander Cunningham, who was the first individual to survey Ayodhya (around 1862-63), and was known for his interest in tracking down and identifying places associated with Buddhism.

Had India as a country boasted of a very robust and strong judicial institution, such an incident would not have been dragged all the way from 1949 to 2019, let alone pave the way to constructing a temple on the disputed land. December 6, 1992 should have been permanently brought an end to it with strict actions being taken against the perpetrators. While the B.J.P. indeed is directly linked to the whole incident, the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi allowed the locks to be opened in the 1980s. Following the demolition, the Congress Prime Minister Narsimha Rao allowed them to get away with the violence in 1992. And in 2019, the Supreme Court judges have done the same. 

Ayodhya, for more than a quarter of a century, had been turned into a place of cynical and political revanchism. And thrust between this politics of a loosely manufactured historicity aiming to upend the Republic of secularism by replacing it with a system running on Hindutva ideology, were those that represented what India truly stands for. Of the numerous subjects that Patwardhan interviewed, both Hindus and Muslims, most of them unanimously awaited, and wanted peace. Something that was so easy to understand for someone who lived a simple life of an ironmonger, belonging to the low Bishkarma caste, was at the same time completely unimaginable to those amassing trucks and weapons to demolish the mosque:

“Once it exists, it is wrong to break. If someone tried to break our temple, would we allow it? We’d say go build your mosque elsewhere.”

Zahir Adil, the lead on Save India From Fascism Project of the human rights organization Justice For All also expressed a similar sentiment, saying how he would have actually welcomed it if the temple was not built after illegally destroying a historic mosque. 

“Apart from being a day that RSS criminals are rewarded with a new temple after perpetuating systemic violence in India, 5th August 2020 also goes down in history as the day that the words Jai Shree Ram will be displayed in the iconic Times Square as the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for a Ram Temple on the site of the demolished mosque”, informed Masood Rab, spokesperson of Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in India (CAPI). It is one among the coalition of organizations that  have refused to carry forward the programming by the pro-Modi group in Times Square. 

The RSS, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, being the parent organization of the current ruling party in India has its roots in pre-Independence times and were also known for openly supporting Hitler’s Nazi agenda. They were banned as many as four times when India was ruled by the national Congress, but it has now become the de-facto power under BJP rule, with Modi himself being a known RSS member. 

Indian American Muslim leaders, as well as human rights organizations, having categorically denounced this display of religious bigotry has called for a day long protest in the iconic Times Square from 8 AM, asking for this display of vehement arrogance to be stopped. Those like Adil and Dr. Shaik Ubaid (President of the Indian Minorities Advocacy Network) have also expressed concern on how the proponents of this fascist ideology have become so confident that they are celebrating an illegal and bloody act in the middle of Times Square, and for the entire world to see. But others like Kugelman expect, and have pointed out that while there will be messages in Times Square blaring out communal rhetoric, there may also be messages expressing solidarity for Kashmiris.

“It is perhaps fitting, in this globalized era, if the incredibly polarizing Kashmir issue plays out under the bright lights of Times Square”, said Kugelman over a brief electronic conversation, but added how this juxtaposition is also extremely divisive within the country on the whole.

The mandatory in this case seems more like a political campaign trick than anything to do with actual Hinduism, and essentially a symbiotic Displace perpetrated by a fascist government.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this could be the rise of divisive Hindu supremacy as never seen before. In all its entirety, the day of August 5, 2020 marks the end of an era and the possible beginning of a new one. It detriments the idea that our founding forefathers had envisioned for the nation, and while we may not like it at the same time, this is essentially a new India that is emerging for everyone to see – one that is a land of strident Hindutva and religious dissonance at the forefront. 

LINK to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMT18TMNQbY

 

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#Current Affairs

The Perennial Siege: Kashmir’s Tense Lockdown Anniversary

A year after the revocation of Article 370—special status of the valley, Kashmir continues to be under security lockdown, intermittent internet restrictions, almost negligible functioning of education system, amid reports of continuous detentions and across-the-board human rights violations.

Two-day curfew has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir in anticipation of containing any form of dissent ahead of the 5 August anniversary—the day Indian government stripped Kashmir of its special status. Officials say the curfew is meant to prevent violence by groups planning to observe 5 August as “black day”.

On August 5 2019, the state was split into two federally administered regions and its semi-autonomous status was revoked. The decision to revoke article 370—part of Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir special status—an action with potentially devastating consequences for Kashmiri identity and community was met with anger and feeling of betrayal in the region although it was widely welcomed in the rest of the country. In preparation for this, it put Kashmir into a complete lockdown at midnight on Aug. 4, 2019. Eight million Kashmiris were restricted in their homes. In-an-effort to impose a complete communication blockade, internet connections were cut, and phone connections were terminated.

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Everything seems to have come to a halt, and the past experiences have begun to conjure the images of unprecedented violence. Since the revocation or illegal annexation of Kashmir on August 5, the betrayed and besieged population, including me, treated like a prisoner in a forsaken paradise on earth, continue to mourn India’s deceptively organized virulent manifestation of democracy. The fact-finding report, Women’s Voice, counters the state narrative of “return to normalcy,” indicating that 13,000 boys and young men were detained illegally after August 5, including some as young as 14, with some imprisoned for up to 45 days, and with families paying as much as 60,000 rupees ($850) for their release

Kashmiris, however, saw their integration as a threat to the state’s ethnic character, and a milestone on the road to the realization of the BJP’s dream of a fundamentally Hindu nation. Many legal commentators decried the Indian government’s unilateral abrogation as “illegal,” calling it an “unconstitutional deed,” which was “accomplished by deceitful means” (Noorani 2019). 

The Problem oF Kashmir

A brief context of the conflict offers a perspective to understand the problem of Kashmir. “The world is reaping the chaos the British Empire sowed,” Amy Hawkins wrote in Foreign Policy, and “local populace is still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.” The anti-colonial uprisings in the Indian subcontinent, China, the Arab world and elsewhere did not result in freedom or democracy for the nations ruled by the British Empire”. In Kashmir, the British left a bleeding wound amid the partition of colonial India. Kashmir in post-partition and to be more succinct, post-1947 emerged as a boiling pot from the cultivation uterus of the two-nation theory.

Since then, Kashmir is known to be the most heavily militarized zones in the world. More than 7 million soldiers have been deployed, as per the reports, to counter what the Indian army itself claims as “cross-border terrorism”. This myth has been busted time and again because of the actions of the Indian government in the last three decades. If there were any doubts earlier, they should have cleared by now. Their real enemy is the Kashmiri people, especially “Kashmiri Muslims”, the hindrance in the way of turning India into a “Hindutva nation” claims Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019 U.N. general assembly speech.

India’s decision to abolish the state’s nominal autonomy last year is the most far-reaching move in the region in the last 70 years and has been pushed by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as a development-focused action to “mainstream” the only Muslim-majority state in the subcontinent. While the government —which justified the shutdown as “preventive” — and the leading Indian media outlets are propagating an image of the region as slowly returning to “normalcy”, the reality on the ground, as documented by the New York Times, is very different. 

Kashmir continues to simmer under the siege.

Post 5—August SiegeAnd  Defiance

This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since the first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire population. There is also an unwavering manifestation of defiance, as by now the Kashmir street is sufficiently educated politically to not pin its hopes on an infusion of benevolence in the government’s Kashmir policy or any practical outcome from the partial solidarity from the international community. The mass arrests, in thousands, including minors and pellet victims [including a cancer patient] holding 7 million populations under eight hundred thousand jackboots has unveiled the façade of Indian democracy. 

“No government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India. An incredible 213 times in just three years”, reports Time Magazine, “which is far more than Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt together”. And more than half of those shutdowns have been enforced on Kashmir—is that because, questions Abid (PhD scholar, Dept. of political science department, Kashmir University) “of the special (autonomous) status Kashmir “enjoyed” in the larger Indian union? Will they also ban clean air, now that the special status has been erased?” 

Picking out promising adolescents; sometimes old men and even women, they branded them, as with batons and red-hot irons, to forcefully teach them how to behave. Abid Khan, 28, and Idrees, 29 from Shopian district in South Kashmir were raided in the middle of the night, tortured for hours by dozens of army men. Khan says he was dragged out and blindfolded along with his brother, who has learning difficulties, on August 14. “They gave electric shocks to my brother on the road outside our home. I heard him scream painfully,” quoted in AFP story, showing marks on his arms, legs and buttocks. Khan said. “Then they gave me electric shocks again on my genitals and wounds. One of them said ‘I will make you impotent’.” On September 13, Irshad Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy from neighboring Buchpora, Srinagar, suffered a serious head injury. His hospital registration card noted that it was a ‘fire-arm injury’, adding the word “alleged”. Those accompanying him said he had been hit by a cluster of pellets in his head. The bar has been raised so high for all forms of political dissent, and the detentions, numbering in thousands have choked any form of political activity on the ground. What remains still is an unwavering manifestation of the overarching defiance against the government-enforced execution of oppression. 

Pandemic Lockdown- In and Out of Kashmir

Since the world has now entered the sixth month of Covid-19 restrictions. With self-isolation, physical-distancing and e-learning online education, for most populations the robust internet and phone service has still provided a lifeline to let them work and be engaged and entertained. But in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, the repression and militaristic method in the latest indignity in a 73-year cycle of oppression, militarization and scarcity especially since last year August in Kashmir has intensified: communications were completely cut in August 2019 and were only beginning, even after weeks pandemic broke out. Since March, only 2G is available, and only sporadically. As Waheed Mirza, novelist and political commentator on Kashmir asserts “A military siege is like a chokehold on an entire people”.  

For the world, asserts Arundhati Roy:

“Kashmir and Kashmiris signify as a prototype to learn the craft of surviving under a lockdown. For the former, it is a self-imposed precautionary measure experienced for the first time in the recent history by the world to fight against an unseen disease; as for the latter, it is the endless fight against the continuation of a seven month long enforced siege against their will.”

 This reality soon turned into a buzzword “the world is turning into Kashmir”. Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan asserted India has been using the “cover of the coronavirus” to “mow down” Kashmiri youth and change the Muslim-majority character of the disputed region.  

According to news reports on Kashmir, anyone who violates curfew–even those with valid passes allowing them to leave their homes–risks being detained by soldiers or police and possibly beaten. Even doctors, who’ve been celebrated as heroes elsewhere in the world, report being harassed on their way to work in Kashmir, which already suffers an acute lack of medical resources and staff. Limited access to information has also obstructed Kashmir’s coronavirus fight. The region uses 2G internet, an online connection so slow that it is nonexistent elsewhere in the world. Indian authorities have cut online access in Kashmir 55 times since it was restored in March 2020. According to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, a local group that documents and litigates human rights abuses “this has delayed doctors’ ability to read emerging treatment guidelines and new research on the disease”.

For some, the repressive methods allude to the fact that the Indian government’s priorities in Kashmir have not been changed by the pandemic. “Any administration that is willing to impose the longest Internet shutdown in history only believes in the right of censorship and surveillance,” says Mishi Choudhary, the legal director at the Software Freedom Law Center, a group that campaigns for Internet freedoms. The period post 5 August 2019 has changed the whole political landscape of the region. This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since that first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire people. 

Mental health workers say “Kashmir is witnessing an alarming increase in instances of depression, anxiety and psychotic events”.  Doctors Without Borders estimated after surveying 5,600 households in 2015. Nine of 10 have experienced conflict-related traumas. The figures are much higher than in India, according to other surveys.

Education: The Perennial Casualty

Ten months after India unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, reports New York Times, “education stands as one of the crisis’s most glaring casualties”. Previously, Kashmiri Valley in particular suffered huge education losses as the students were forcibly kept away from schools and colleges by frequent official curfews and restrictions, shutdowns, incidents of violence and prolonged political unrest stretching for months, the worst of these witnessed in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016. “The long school closures in the valley cause major disruptions in young people’s educational and professional development, producing feelings of insecurity, helplessness, and demoralization,” said Haley Duschinski, an anthropologist at Ohio University specializing in Kashmir.

Around 1.5 million Kashmiri students remain out of school. All educational institutions are closed, and most government and private schools are shut—except for few intermittent opening of educational institutions for some weeks, one of the clearest signs of the fear that has gripped Kashmir since the Indian government locked down the disputed territory. Parents in the Kashmir Valley also show this fear that “they are terrified of sending their children out with any exception reaction from the public amid troops deployed everywhere and on the prowl for trouble”. 

“What if the school or a bus carrying children is attacked?” asked Saqib Mushtaq Bhat, a father worried about violence by Indian troops or militants. “What if there are protests and their faces get shot by pellets?’’ Amid only 2G internet services working in the valley, G.N. Var, chairman of Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) which has 2,200 schools associated with it, termed it ‘denial of right to education’. The research scholars across the valley have equally suffered due to low speed internet and hugely affected the mental stability of people across the spectrum of the society. 

He said, “The restrictions on high speed internet are making it difficult for our students to avail online courses and access information which is vital in their career-building. We see it as a denial of the right to education.”  Reports suggest “no government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India with 55 Internet blackouts in 2019 alone, including the longest in recorded history, 213 days, when Delhi put the valley on lockdown last year August.

Settler Colonialism

So far, anti-insurgency operations have proved equally devastating for Kashmiris amid the pandemic. As of June 30, 229 killings, 107 CASO’s (cordon and search operation), 55 internet shutdowns, 48 properties destroyed in the first half of 2020. Children and women continued to be victims of violence in J&K as 3 children and 2 women were killed in the first half of 2020. India continues to take possession of Kashmir despite being hit ever harder by the pandemic.

With all the constitutional amendments and new laws India has instituted in Kashmir especially since 5 August last year, the Palestinian case is often invoked to find the parallelism of how this sounds like the beginning of settler colonialism. The recent developments that highlight this process are, on the contrary, a further deepening and expansion of a matrix of control characteristic of such a project, duly aided through laws, to ensure the eventual elimination of the native.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s order to withdraw a 1971 circular that made it mandatory for the Indian Army, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force to obtain a “no objection certificate” to acquire land in the region is also seen as part of a settler colonial project. Not only has the decrees evoked a sharp reaction among locals, which have long feared Delhi’s forceful integration of the restive region with the Indian union, but observers are also accusing Modi’s right-wing dispensation of using the Covid-19 pandemic to advance its Hindu settler colonial enterprise in the region, saying it is a page right out of the Israeli playbook to transform the region’s demographics. United Kingdom-based Kashmiri lawyer Mirza Saaib Bég argues that “J&K’s demography is bound to be altered beyond belief. And at a speed so astonishing that the procedure for issuing a domicile certificate will seem, unfortunately, a quasi-colonial project”.

Around 400 thousand people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir till July, 2020 proving right the fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population. “The whole purpose of revoking Article 370 was to settle outsiders here and change the demography of the state. Now this provides the modalities and entitles so many categories of Indians whose settlement will be legalised over here.” – Kashmiri law professor and legal scholar Sheikh Showkat Hussain (Al Jazeera, April 1, 2020).

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said, “India should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir.” He also asserts “Restrictions on dissent, such as peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet weakens democracy,” in a policy paper posted on his website. Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that India’s latest step was a vindication of the country’s “consistent stance that the major intention behind the Indian Government’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 was to change the demographic structure of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and turn Kashmiris into a minority in their own land”.

“This has long been part of the RSS-BJP’s ‘Hindutva’ agenda,” the statement added.

An  Indian Consul General in New York, Sandeep Chakraborty’s recent call for the ‘Israel model’ in Kashmir should ring alarm bells for the Muslim world. He flagrantly asserted “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” Chakravorty said.

Kashmiris on Twitter were quick to call out Al-Jazeera, accusing them of “promoting settler colonialism”. The social media users were mainly drawing a parallel with expansionist or colonial settlements of Israeli Jews in Palestine or of Han Chinese in Xinjiag to forcibly settle and diffuse indigenous identity.

Tailpiece:

Kashmir is transformed into an open prison where the state works with a self-proscribed impunity to confiscate or mitigate basic universal rights, while the Indian state is trying to entice assimilatory participation of the common people. That territory-wide control by the state and its various institutions is countered through years of survival, persistence and resistance against the state’s operations over Kashmiri lives.

One inevitable fact that successive union governments since India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru have arrogantly with military highhandedness ignored is the political question of Kashmir. The recent political expedition of the Indian government in Kashmir paradigmatically problematized the political destiny of Kashmir and future of Kashmiris. Even in the 21st century globalized world, in the middle of a global pandemic, 8 million people are denied access to education, livelihood, entertainment, and health respite via a medium that has become an essential service for the rest of the world.

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#Current Affairs

Indian Myths Channel Genocide in Kashmir

India is a land and society of myths. More so now than ever before, under the Hindutva-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party government led by the claim of the myth manufacturer Modi: “India is a democracy; it is in our DNA.”

A much talked about myth has been that India is a secular state, and in the light of the post August 5 2019 developments in Kashmir and the Indian mainland, much sighing is being aired that Indian secularism is endangered.

However, the question arises, when was India secular? Was India “secular,” when it invaded Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on October 26, 1947 on the pretext that a non-Muslim should rule a Muslim-majority state, or was it “secular” when Hyderabad Deccan was invaded and annexed on September 23, 1948 on the pretext that a Muslim could not rule over a Hindu majority?

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Based on a myth about the birthplace of the mythical “Lord Rama,” the 600-year old Babri Mosque was attacked and demolished on December 6, 1992. India’s Supreme Court validated the goon squad’s action on November 9, 2019. Today, the mosque’s attackers rule India.

Even the national anthem ‘Vande Matram’ is not secular, where Muslims object to its idolatrous aspects. For instance, the fourth stanza, addresses motherland India as, “Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen, with her hands that strike and her swords of sheen, Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned…”

When a Muslim sings these words, he is forced to equate his country with the Hindu goddesses Durga and Lakshmi, thereby deifying the land of India. This goes against the concept of tawheed (the Absolute Oneness of God), according to which a Muslim cannot supplicate to anyone except God.

The other long-standing myth, which India validated through a presidential fiat last year, is that J&K are its “integral” part – a territory it has occupied since September 1947 with a million-man force. In doing so, it served up another myth: the constitutional relationship between J&K and India.

Subodh Varma (“Some Myths About Article 370, 35A and Kashmir”, Sabrang India August 8, 2019) explains that in the process of effectively scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution through a presidential order supported by a Lok Sabha (lower house) resolution, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters regurgitated a slew of myths, half-truths and sleights of hand that have been part of its parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) propaganda for decades. Ironically, many parties and opinion leaders who do not subscribe to the RSS ideology also repeated them, which show how far these myths have traveled. Meanwhile, social media went ballistic with RSS/BJP supporters posting bizarre claims while others started offering land for sale in Kashmir.

Arun Jaitley (d. August 24, 2019), who served as finance minister from 2014 to 2019, had tweeted on August 4, “J&K integration with India took place in October 1947. Article 370 came into force in 1952, Article 35A came in 1954, four and seven years later respectively. How can Articles 370 and 35A be a condition precedent to merger?”

He had sought to prove that Articles 370 and 35A were somehow unrelated to J&K’s “joining” [albeit perforce] the Indian Union implying that they are unnecessary and also that they were the result of some [past] Congress governments’ stupidity.

This is a lie.

On October 26, 1947, India invaded J&K, obliging its ruler, Raja Hari Singh, to sign the Instrument of Accession (IOA); the Dogra ruler’s ancestor having purchased the territory and its citizen from the British. However, this document states that the Indian parliament could only legislate on the state’s defense, external affairs, communications and some ancillary subjects. The agreement’s Clause 5 reads: “The terms of this my Instrument of Accession cannot be varied by any amendment of the Act or of Indian Independence Act unless such amendment is accepted by me by an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument.” Clause 7 says: “Nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future constitution of India or to fetter my discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India under any such future constitution.”

Simply stated, it says that many things left pending in the IOA were to be settled later through negotiations. After its invasion, India, which faced the Kashmiri resistance till 1949, finally seeking a UN-negotiated armistice, has yet to lay out the laws and governance mechanism. Accordingly, the UN Security Council adopted successive resolutions call for a plebiscite where the Kashmiris would vote freely to decide their future.

The UN continues to recognize Kashmir as a disputed territory.

The 1947 partition agreed upon by Muslim and Hindu leaders with Britain, the departing colonial ruler, reads that Muslim majority states would merge with Pakistan. Kashmir is a clear case.

To preserve the IOA’s spirit and to reassure the Raja, Article 370 was moved in India’s Constituent Assembly in May 1949, which was voted to be part of the Indian Constitution in October 1949. Consequently, Presidential Orders were issued in 1950, 1952 and 1954 to settle various issues. Jawaharlal Nehru  -India’s first prime minister- and his interior minister Vallabhbhai Patel (d. 1950) were part of these negotiations, which negates the RSS myth that Patel opposed Article 370.

The RSS propped up the full integration bogey to stir up agitation against the land reforms initiated by the Raja-appointed Sheikh Abdullah government. The RSS gave it a communal hue as the landowners were mostly Dogras and Pandits and most peasants were Muslims.

The RSS/BJP propaganda about Article 35A hides the fact that Raja Hari Singh had proclaimed the Hereditary State Subject Order in 1927, which allowed only the state’s residents to own land and to government jobs. The state’s assembly voted to include this order in the J&K Constitution. In keeping with the IOA terms regarding the preservation of rights of state’s residents, Article 35A was added to the Constitution through the Presidential Order of 1954.

Kashmir’s annexation falls under RSS ambition of a pure Hindu India.

The RSS states that J&K, with its “oppressive Muslim-majority character, has been a headache for our country ever since Independence.”

RSS alleges that forces “inimical to Bharat never wanted Kashmir to integrate itself with Bharat …  and in October 1947, these elements conspired with the enemy to defeat every move to save the situation from our [Indian] side.” While, India continues to loudly claim that it was Pakistani tribal fighters and not Kashmiri freedom-fighters who confronted the Indian invading army, RSS claims that it was its fighters who fought alongside Indian troops, adding that if a ceasefire had not been agreed upon, its fighters would have helped completely conquer J&K.

RSS blames the large Muslim presence for J&K being conferred a special status under Article 370, even after its total “accession.”

On December 11, 1991, BJP president Dr. Murli Manohar and Narendra Modi, and also, the now interior minister Amit Shah, led the 15,000 mile “Ekta Yatra” (Unity March) from Kanyakumari -a Tamil Nadu coastal town, the southernmost town in mainland India- which culminated in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on January 26, 1992 to hoist the Indian flag, signaling that they had “arrived to settle the account.”

RSS claims: “The endless appeasement of the Muslim population, especially in Kashmir, practiced by the successive governments at Delhi, has been the bane of our government’s Kashmir policy. Just as too much mollycoddling and lack of discipline spoil the child, so has been Kashmir, a problem created out of our own folly.” RSS alleges that Pakistan arms militants for armed revolt from within India.

Amit Shah has harped the long-repeated party line that Article 370 is the root cause of spread of terrorism. As a corollary, it is also said that the article was the source of sentimental belief in a separate Kashmir, providing ground to cross-border terrorists to exploit.

However, it is the erosion of Article 370 that has led to increasing disenchantment of Kashmiris and their search for a way out. For instance, Article 370 provided for extending provisions of law to J&K through Presidential Orders, issued after concurrence of the state assembly. However, the 1954 Order has extended almost the entire Constitution to J&K. Out of the 97 entries in the Union List, 94 have been made applicable to the state and out of the 47 entries in the Concurrent List, 26 have been extended to the state. This has largely reduced the state’s powers. Overall, Article 370’s provisions were used at least 45 times to extend Constitution’s provisions to J&K.

Not only have the J&K rights been increasingly restricted, but also the spirit of the section has been violated by simply getting the state government to rubber stamp such extensions.

Also, the J&K Constitution was amended several times using Article 370. For instance, Article 356 was extended removing a similar provision in the J&K Constitution (Article 92), which called for President’s concurrence for imposing President’s rule. Article 370 was used for the extension of President’s rule. Even Article 249 (parliament’s power to make laws on State List entries) was extended to J&K through a recommendation of the governor, bypassing the state legislature.

In the past, Congress governments and later BJP, used these measures to manipulate the politics of the state to install ministries or impose President’s Rule.

Another myth, really a blatant lie, proffered by BJP, is that development was not possible because Article 370 didn’t allow it. Post-August 5, Indian politicians and opinion leaders continue to harp that with the removal of special status, including J&K will now become part of global India. Seriously, how Article 370 stopped any government from providing or encouraging more investment and industry in the state when most provisions of the Constitution, including Union list entries were extended to the state. The Union governments could have undertaken any economic measures or programs they wanted in J&K. In fact, there was nothing except unkempt promises of colossal special packages. No Indian government undertook any economic or political measures that would provide sustainable and long-term benefits to J&K.

Simply, the removal of Article 35A will now free real estate sharks to gobble up properties and use it for setting up private businesses including private schools. It is difficult to believe that private investment will flow into J&K, when an occupied people there are discontented and uncertain.

Indian propagandists in and out of government harp on the myth Articles 370 and 35A, and the arrangements they enshrine, were unique to J&K. In fact, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa enjoy similar provisions. In other states too, there are laws preventing non-domiciliary persons from owning land.

The Narendra Modi-led central government had, after the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, recently announced that people will now be able to buy land in Kashmir. As a result, the 1971 circular, which restricted land acquisition and requisition without a ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)” from the Home Department, has now been replaced by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. And, the displacement of Kashmiris with the replacement of Indians has begun the process of ethnic cleansing, leading to a genocide of the Kashmiri people.

Citizens of India ought not to live by the myth of living in the largest democracy and in greatness but instead should heed to Gandhi, “as human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

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