Why do Hindu- Muslims fight? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Why do Hindu- Muslims fight?

India is the land of many religions. However, by any measure, religious freedom has been under a constant attack in the country. Constant Conflicts have been happening between Hindu- Muslim Communities, yet it is neither Hindu -nor-Muslim who dies. It is the Humanity and Peace which dies with the death of every individual.

Minority communities, especially, Muslim, Christians, and Sikhs, have experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence largely by Hindu nationalist groups.  

Hindus feared that they are being forced to be converted by Christian Missionaries in Southern State, and by Muslims as well.  The community assumed that, to be united, they need to support a leader who can understand their concerns and serve justice in their own country. 

However, fear is just the fear, and It has got nothing to do with facts. Muslims also suffered constantly in the hatred. 

Recent riots in India due to hate speech
On 24th February 2020, the bloody violence, which has left the streets of north-east Delhi in flames. More than 25 civilians dead and over 250 injured. 
The unrest in the capital began in north-east Delhi, when a Kapil Mishra, a local leader from Modi’s BJP  party, threatened to violently remove a group of Muslim protesters who had been peacefully blocking a local road in protest against a controversial new citizenship amendment act (CAA), which many belief discriminates against Muslims.

Mishra’s incendiary rhetoric against the Muslims riled up a Hindu mob, and Hindus and Muslims began clashing in the streets, throwing stones and setting alight to local businesses. 

The communal violence further escalated as rumors that Hindu icons had been demolished by local Muslims and a mob of Hindu rioters was pictured violently beating a Muslim man with sticks and baseball bats as he lay bloodied in the street, crying for help.

A policeman was killed when he was hit in the head by a flying rock, and multiple journalists were hospitalized as they were attacked by mobs.

The police responded with teargas and grenades and were reportedly firing Molotov cocktails at the clashing groups. However, the unrest continued to spread across the capital. 

A mosque in Ashok Nagar, north-west Delhi, was set alight, with Hindu rioters seen climbing the minaret and attaching a flag of the Hindu god Hanuman.

A section 144 order, which prevents gatherings of more than four people, was imposed on various areas in the north-east of Delhi where the violence was concentrated and schools in the area have been closed. However, the clashing religious mobs were once again out on the streets in north-east Delhi.

 Many in the Muslim community of Delhi said they feared to leave their houses following reports Hindu mobs were stopping people in the streets and asking to see identification, and not allowing any Muslims to pass.

Modi has been grappling with continuing domestic unrest since his Hindu nationalist BJP government passed the CAA in December, which grants citizenship for refugees of every major South Asian religion except Muslims.

 In conjunction with a planned national register of citizens (NRC) it is feared the law will make India’s Muslim community aliens in their own country and undermine the secular foundations of India by making religion the basis of citizenship.

The anti-CAA demonstrations, which have taken place in almost every major Indian city over the past three months and show no sign of abating, have been met with increasingly authoritarian measures, including incidents of mass arrests and harassment of the Muslim community and reports of torture of activists, protesters and innocent Muslim bystanders.

Hate speech on religion in India

Ancient India is known for its skepticism towards religion and its toleration to opposing views, however, the alarming rise of Hindu religious nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism, and consequently, increasing conflict between freedom of expression and religion, have been well noted by both academic and public intellectuals.
The conflict between freedom of expression and religion in India is well known. 

The censoring of books and films by the state, and the victimization of writers, film directors, and academic by Muslim fundamentalist and Hindu religious-nationalist groups are well noted. 
In this context, the Indian constitution not only empowers media and free thinkers, but also those who are religiously offended.

The desire among many people to prohibit religiously hurtful speech or expression has become a focal point of conflict between religious-fundamentalist groups and free thinkers. Indian Penal Code provisions 298 and 295A have resulted in the harassment of many writers, journalists, and academics. 

In addition, the use of violence and fatwa is also being used to suppress freedom of expression by Muslims and Hindu fundamentalist groups.

Hindu Fundamentalism
The main objective of Hindu religious-nationalists is to establish Hindu rule in India: to spread Hindu values and to defend Hindu society from alien religion, culture, and ideologies.

 Among prominent Hindu Fundamentalist groups are. R.S.S (Rashtra Swayamsevak Sangh), V.H.P (Vishva Hindu Parishad) and Shiv Sena. 

Since the early 1980s, these groups, to a certain extent, have been responsible for inciting communal violence against religious minorities in India.

These Hindu fundamentalist groups are vehemently against the idea the ethnoreligious minorities should have equal rights with Hindus. Within these groups, R.S.S. in particular ultimately aims to make India a Hindu nation (HINDU RASHTRIYA) and consider political ideas of secularism, democracy, and Westernization unfit for Indian culture.

Hindu fundamentalist forces have become emboldened since the Bhartiya Janta Party (B.J.P), the Hindu nationalist party, came into power in 2014 and elected Narendra Modi (a full-time R.S.S member) as the Prime Minister of India.

Hindu fundamentalism has succeeded in threatening publishers to withdraw publications, exerted pressure to censor films deemed offensive to their political agenda and silenced critical voices contesting the Hindu religious myths and legends. 

Islamic fundamentalist
British rule over India was a setback to the Mughal Empire, leading to a loss of power among its elites. Consequently, Muslim backwardness and the political reassertion of Hindus in India, to a certain extent, led to Muslim nationalism.

Later the rise of Deoband (Conservative Islamic seminary) and the Aligarh school played an important role in Islamic nationalism and affirmation of Islamic religious ideas. The idea of ‘purifying’ Islam and Muslims in India (through vigorous preaching and holy war) was formulated by men like Shariatullah and Syed Ahmed and expressed some of the fear haunting the local Muslims. 

This generated in India’s Muslim elites a preoccupation with the “revival of Islam’s lost glory”.

The foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and fear of Hindu domination led the establishment of the Muslim League, which demanded a separate state of Muslim-Pakistan. 

Through the rise of Hindu revivalist movements, Arya Samaj crystalized Hindu nationalism and Muslim Fundamentalism.

After Independence in 1947, Muslims remain backward economically and politically. However, for fundamentalist Muslims, the ideal has remained for an Islamic state and a universal Islamic revolution.

Insurgency in Kashmir and the Babri mosque demolition further alienated Muslims in India. The Indian state, Hindu nationalism, and Kashmiri Muslim ethno-religious nationalism all contributed to the polarization of the Hindu-Muslim population.

As a result, mutual suspicion helped strengthened fundamentalist forces in Muslim society.

Usually, fundamentalist Islamic groups such as Deoband and All India Muslim Personal Board resort to mob violence, religious and public condemnation, or filing cases in the court if they deem anything to be offensive to their religion. 

Shirin Dalvi, editor of an Urdu newspaper, was arrested for printing a controversial cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Dalvi was booked and charged with outraging religious feelings by insulting its religion with malicious intent under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. 

Similarly, Hindu Mahasabha activist, Kamlesh Tiwari earned the wrath of Muslims for making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed.

       As a result, thousands of Muslims demanded the death penalty for Tiwari.
In the court, Indian Penal Codes (IPC) 298, 295A, 153A have been invoked against free thinkers. In more informal ways, fatwa, physical violence, and threats have been employed by Islamic fundamentalists. 

Freethinkers normally face challenges at two levels; either the offended party drags them into the court of law or coerces them with intimidation, physical violence, and social pressure.

 Most of the interviewed Muslim students lived in Islamic Madrasa (Islamic university hostel), followed a strict religious discipline and offered five times daily prayer in a mosque located on the University Campus.

All of them showed strong religious tendencies and political knowledge about the topic concerned. Most of them, more or less, followed the same line of argument and expressed similar views. 

 It seems their religious orientation provided them with political meaning. Their worldview seems dominated by their religious motivations. They were well informed about the national debate on intolerance and the political situation of Muslims and other minorities in India.

On the other hand, In the case of Hindu respondents, fundamentalism was seen as laced with negative traits such as radicalism, terrorism, communal violence and imposition of sharia law. 

Hindu students, nearly all of them, considered their religion ‘a tolerant religion’ whereas Islam was associated with intolerance and violence, reflecting stereotyping of the minority. 

However, many Hindu students highlighted the insecure situation of Hindus in Pakistan and compared this with the relatively better situation of Muslims in India.

 Religion and Human Rights
The relation between the discourse of human rights (particularly freedom of expression)        and religion is complex.

“While human rights norms encourage pluralism and diversity, many religious bodies require orthodoxy and uniformity…while human rights norms teach freedom of expression and petition, several religions teach duties of silence and submission”. 

Nevertheless, some religions started to see human rights as natural rights rooted in natural law, and natural law is religiously inspired. 

Their (values) interchanges have been increased globally and are of the utmost importance to maintain communal harmony in a pluralistic society—particularly in a society where religion is a way of life, and where human rights norms are still at the nascent stage. 

Religion in India has been a way of life for ages, but human rights as a Western modern legal concept is relatively new.

Religious fundamentalist movements in different parts of the world are intolerant to other denominations within their own religion as well as with other religions. 

They either seize or join political power. This is what is happening in India where not only Hindu fundamentalism is in direct conflict with human rights of freedom of expression.

In India, fundamentalism is in direct conflict with the discourse of human rights. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that religion has been, and still is, a formidable force for both political good and political evil, it has fostered benevolence and belligerence, peace and pathos of untold dimensions; the proper response to religious belligerence is not to limit religion to the private sphere, but rather to conform those religious teachings and practices that are most conducive to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

What are the constitutional provisions?

·         Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Any restriction on this right shall only be permitted if the speech falls within one of the eight grounds set out in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. 

·         The freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) includes the right to express one’s views and opinions at any issue through any medium, e.g. by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture, film, movie, etc.  It thus includes the freedom of communication and the right to propagate or publish an opinion. But this right is subject to reasonable restrictions being imposed under Article 19(2).  Out of the eight different grounds listed on Article 19(2) of the Constitution, the majority of hate speech laws are saved by the ‘public order’ exception. The eight different grounds are;

1.    Security of the State.
2.    Friendly relations with foreign States.
3.    Public order.
4.    Decency and morality.
5.    Contempt of court.
6.    Defamation.
7.    Incitement to an offense, and
8.    Sovereignty and integrity of India.

Reasonable restrictions on these grounds can be imposed only by a duly enacted law and not by executive action.

A way forward
 As victims of hate speech they fear and are indeed nervous to enter public spaces or participate in the discourse. This brings a change in their behavior, such intangible effects of hate speech on people are the most insidious and damaging to their right to live with dignity.

Therefore, steps should be taken to tackle such problems that could be-
1. the most efficient way to dilute hatred is by the means of Education. Our education system has a prominent role to play in promoting and understanding compassion with others.
2. Awareness programs and initiatives about maintaining cordial relationships must be taken by not only the government but also by private people.

3. Although there are many laws regarding hate speeches but stricter penalizing is required as religious sentiments and beliefs are a precious thing for an individual.

4. Fight against hate speech cannot be isolated. It should be discussed on a wider platform such as the United Nations. Every responsible government, regional bodies, and other international and regional actors should respond to this threat.
5. Cases of hate speech can be addressed through Alternative dispute resolution as it proposes a shift from the long procedures of the court to the settlement of the dispute between parties by way of negotiation, mediation, arbitration and/or conciliation.

For a country like India with a massive population of diverse backgrounds and cultures, subjects like Hate Speech become a complex issue to deal with as it is difficult to differentiate between free and hate speech.

 Several factors are to be considered while restraining speeches like the number of strong opinions, offensive to certain communities, the effect on the values of dignity, liberty, and equality. 

Certainly, there are laws for such atrocities but a major part of work is still left. For a prosperous India, we all have to work together and communicate efficiently to make our country a healthy place to live in.

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