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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Padmaavat: Where are Muslim protesters?

In the article appended below, Aijaz Zaka Syed wrote, "What really worries me — as it should every Indian who loves his/her country and desires its wellbeing is the hate and ill will all this is generating between the Hindus and Muslims. Being taught those textbooks and perpetually bombarded with hate in films and on television, even Muslim children would grow up hating their own ancestors."
This is a real concern, indeed, this is precisely the experience of Native Americans. In one of our Programs of Holocaust and Genocides, we focus on Native American Genocides, and one of the young men says similar words.  Watch this at 7th minute in the video https://youtu.be/uneRYgYfgWI

As Muslim Indians, we care about the state of our nation and will do everything to restore her back to our pluralistic traditions, where we respected the otherness of others and accepted the God-given the uniqueness of each one of us. If you cannot respect a fellow Indian, what will you respect then? Let everyone live his own life and you live yours. 

One of the comments that reflect the thoughts of many a Muslims came from Safia Faruqi of Lucknow, "We are uninterested in how Khilji is portrayed. We do not identify with any of these kings. We are neither proud of them nor apologetic about them. We should, in fact, stay away from such meaningless things. We would be playing into their hands and furthering the agenda of polarization." 

In a message to my fellow Indians, I had posted a question;  
"Should Muslims condemn the wrongdoers who happened to be Muslim Kings? After all, they did not do any good for Islam or Muslims except fulfilling their own greed like any other king of the time."

Another good response came from Tariq Farooqi, who wrote, "
So what should Indian Muslims do?  There is no need to defend these kings as they were defending their empires and not representing Islam or Islamic virtues.  Muslim masses suffered as poorly as their Hindu counterparts.  While they could point to historians in stating that the movie is a fictional account of love between a king and a fictional woman, the Bhakts have taken over and started burning theaters and damaging surrounding infrastructure.  We can stay away from this madness and condemn the cowardly and unbecoming violence of the mobs."

Indeed, I am working on pulling Indians of different hues together and develop a working program to build a cohesive India, where every Indian takes pride in who he or she is.
Mike Ghouse 
Padmaavat: Where are Muslim protesters?
Courtesy - Saudi Gazette
If anyone should be going ballistic over Padmavati — sorry, Padmaavat — the spectacular cinematic tribute to Rajput valor (obviously decent, virtuous Hindus) and crass demonization of Emperor Alauddin Khilji (the archetype of marauding, meat-gorging, horny invaders!), it is Muslims. Why’s Karni Sena, pray, going on the rampage, burning down multiplexes and malls and turning the whole country upside down?

This when bowing to the diktats of these defenders of Hindu pride, the filmmaker has already changed the title from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’. It was only after the Supreme Court intervened that the film got released after repeated delays albeit it remains a ‘no show’ in many northern states.

Those who have watched the film found it so utterly reverential to the Rajputs and so demeaning to Khilji that it’s perplexing why the assorted nuts have been thirsting for Bhansali’s blood.

As Anjana Kashyap of India Today puts it, it is as if the Karni Sena whispered Padmaavat’s plot into Bhansali’s ear!

So what if Padmaavat is a deliberate distortion of history, just as many such period films, including Jodha Akbar, and television serials in the recent past have been?

In fact, the beautiful Rajput princess Padmavati never existed except in the imagination of Awadhi poet Malik Mohammed Jayasi.

And most of the valiant Rajput chieftains, except Rana Pratap Singh, never put up a fight against the Delhi sultans and Moguls. Many of them joined the ‘enemy’ against their own. Hindu Rajputs and Muslim Moguls even inter-married. Indeed, Mogul emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan had been the sons of proud Rajput mothers.

As for Khilji, he was anything but a savage barbarian and womanizer. Poet Amir Khusro, a contemporary, offers a detailed account of his reign. India’s first emperor, it was Khilji’s bravery that spared the country ruination at the hands of the Mongols.

Far from presenting historical facts accurately, Bhansali doesn’t even do justice to Jayasi’s romantic epic. Which is fine, I suppose. Filmmakers and storytellers enjoy a creative license. They hardly claim to be faithful chroniclers of history.

But should they degenerate into deliberate vilification of a whole community as bloodthirsty savages who live to kill, rape and eat, as Padmaavat and movies of this genre suggest?

It is not just cinema. Of late, there has been a deluge of such dramas on television too with everyone making the most of the hate fest roiling India these days.

Perhaps taking cue from the reigning order, these ‘historical’ storytellers claim to present the stories of Indian heroes. Almost always they are pitted against “fanatical Muslim invaders” with their regulation endless beards and violent tempers.

Even in a period drama like ‘Porus’ on Sony that tackles Alexander the Great’s attack, which happened centuries before Christ when the Muslims didn’t even exist, there are ubiquitous references to ‘foreign invaders’ who look and speak like you know who.

From willful and dangerous distortion of history in films and television to misrepresentation of historical facts in textbooks, there is a desperation to turn back the clock and rewrite the past, playing havoc with impressionable, young minds.

Medieval Muslim rulers are routinely panned as bloodthirsty barbarians who kill their subjects, destroy temples and are on an evangelical mission to convert all Hindus.

Although no shred of historical evidence exists to support these claims and fallacies, authored by orientalists, they have been wholeheartedly embraced and are routinely peddled by the Right.

If had been any truth in these claims, India would have been a Muslim country today. Instead of plundering and sucking it dry as the British did, Muslims made India their home, taking it to the heights of glory. India became the richest and largest economy in the world under the Moguls. You have to be blind to miss the Muslim imprint on every facet of Indian life.

Churchill said history is written by the victors. One wouldn’t lose sleep over it if this ‘Otherization’ of Muslims had been only limited to historical inaccuracies.

What really worries me — as it should every Indian who loves his/her country and desires its wellbeing — is the hate and ill will all this is generating between the Hindus and Muslims. Being taught those textbooks and perpetually bombarded with hate in films and on television, even Muslim children would grow up hating their own ancestors.

After all this vilification of a voiceless, dispossessed minority, coupled with the propaganda of love jihad and multiplying Muslims, who are loyal to Pakistan and forever lusting after the cow and fair Hindu women, would you be surprised if Muslims are increasingly being hunted like animals?

You reap as you sow. The Parivar’s persistent efforts over the past century have begun to bear results. The Muslims have become total strangers in their own country and driven to the margins of Indian society after more than 1200 years of existence in India.

What’s remarkable about this unprecedented phenomenon is the fact that the Muslims, who ruled India for nearly a thousand years, are at the bottom of the heap, according to every social and economic indicator.

As many government commissions and studies have acknowledged, the largest minority is easily the most deprived and disadvantaged in the country, even more backward than the low-caste Dalits. Still blamed for the Partition and reeling from tragedies like the Babri Masjid demolition, the community has learned to keep a low profile, curiously content in its abject poverty and ghettos.

For a community of nearly 200 million people, Muslims have little presence in parliament and state assemblies. The BJP takes pride in the fact that it did not field a single Muslim candidate in the recent assembly elections for Gujarat and Haryana. Again, not one Muslim was fielded in Uttar Pradesh, which boasts more than 20 percent Muslims in a population of 200 million.

There are around 2 percent Muslims in elite Indian Administrative Services. The same goes for the armed forces and police. On the other hand, they have highest representation in jails, far more than their 15 percent share in population.

Yet this pathetic minority is painted as the ‘clear and present danger’ to India and not just by the Parivar. The Indian media is obsessed with the ‘M’ factor, tapping into the inexplicable insecurities of the majority.

From Pakistan-trained terrorists to madrassas being used as terror nurseries to the specters of love jihad and triple talaq, apparently Indian society is perpetually threatened by its Muslims.

In the face of all this sweetness and light, Indian Muslim leadership appears curiously clueless. Let alone evolving a strategy to tackle the challenges facing the community, few of them appear aware of the world falling apart around them.

It is a depressing state of affairs, to say the least. Not very different from what the Muslims faced in Spain centuries ago after their 700-year long reign that enriched Europe and Western civilization. Today, there is not a single believer left in Spain; nor a mosque left standing. No wonder the Parivar often looks to Spain for inspiration.

— Aijaz Zaka Syed is an award winning journalist and former newspaper editor. Email: Aijaz.syed@hotmail.com 

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