As the anti-CAA protests degenerate into violence, attacks on the police, stone pelting, vandalism and arson across the country, a poster has emerged from a similar protest in Bengaluru which desecrates ‘Om’ - a sacred symbol in Indic religions.
‘Om’ is also referred as ‘Omkar’, ‘Onkar’ and ‘Pranav’, as is understood as the sound of the universe, and held sacred by Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas, as well as Sikhs in different forms.
The poster modifies ‘Om’ into a Nazi symbol, with the words “F*ck Hindutva”.
The Sham of Hindu vs Hindutva
Only few days ago when unclear audios had emerged with the students at Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia raising slogans “Hindus se Azadi” and were accused of chanting against Hindus, they had clarified that they were chanting against “Hindutva” and not the Hindus.
It begs an answer that if the protesters keep in mind to distinguish between Hindutva and Hindus, why desecrate a sacred symbol like ‘Om’ used not just by Hindus but other Indic religions as well to make a political point?
This is not the first time that the hypocrisy regarding Hindu vs Hindutva has come to light.
On one hand, a prominent media outlet’a reader’s editor claims that it maintains a distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva, and therefore, avoids using the term ‘saffron terror’, since saffron is considered a sacred colour in Indian religions.
On the other hand, another editor, in the same newspaper, writes an article mocking Hindu gods to criticise Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The desecration of the Hindu pantheon and literature may be considered quite routine in Left politics in India, including calling the gods and goddesses with objectionable names, burning and breaking photographs, idols and books.
As a result one finds the Indian Left on the side of the colonisers and invaders, who with sheer hatred for the idolaters, polytheists and pagans, tried to destroy their cultural heritage.
As late as 2019, American Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard, who is a Hindu, faced Hinduphobic attacks from the Christian Right. Photos of Hindu gods were shared on social media, with the caption reminding people that these are the “demons” that Tulsi Gabbard worships.
Other posts also targeted Hindu gods, making derogatory comments against Krishna, Ardhanarishwara etc, saying Gabbard worships demons, not God.
A sting operation inside a Darul Uloom mosque few years back in Birmingham UK also showed teachers insulting Hindus and Hinduism. Modern-day Islamic preachers like Zakir Naik have made insulting comments against the Hindus and the Hindu pantheon on national television in a Hindu-majority country.
One may think of excusing these comments under the ambit of individual freedom of expression in India, but for the hypocrisy of attacks against only one religion.
For example, even when several social problems arise directly from the religion (and not culture) in Islam, there is no mockery of the religion to send a political message.
Recently, Kamlesh Tiwari, a Hindu rights activist was murdered brutally in broad daylight by Islamists for a comment on Prophet Muhammad. A video had later surfaced of a Muslim child singing a song threatening death to all those who insult Islam or the prophet.
Tiwari, incidentally, had already served jail-time for the remark. A few leading news portals didn’t even publish the news of his murder till there was an outrage on social media against the clear bias.
Few accused in the case have been give bail, and the wife of Tiwari has alleged that she is still receiving death threats.
Kamlesh Tiwari isn’t the first victim of Islamists who oppose any negative comment against their religion and the prophet.
In 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, 12 persons were killed for cartoons on Prophet Muhammad. Majid Nawaz, a British activist and radio presenter, was also threatened based on a ‘Mo and Jesus’ cartoon he shared on Twitter.
Last year, a Dutch MP had to cancel an event in the support of freedom of expression, in which he had invited cartoonists to depict Islam's prophet Muhammad, after serious security threats by the community members.
Blasphemy, that includes a broad category of actions including insult to Quran or Muhammad, latter’s graphic representation, and apostasy, is a punishable offence under Sharia law. A variety of punishments, including death, have been instituted in Islamic jurisprudence that draw their sources from hadith literature.
Different schools propose different punishments for blasphemy by non-Muslims. Most of them provide an option to the accused to convert to Islam and escape the punishment.
Most Muslim majority countries also have a blasphemy law - that explicitly punishes those who insult Islam or Islamic figures. In five countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, blasphemy is punishable by execution.
Another interesting aspect is that Hinduism is not a proselytising religion, and therefore, the attacks against others from a religious standpoint are largely absent as Hindus broadly believe in pluralism.
Validating Nazi appropriation of Hindu symbol
The Nazi ideology, in its race superiority, had appropriated the Swastika symbol of Hindus. Hindus and Hinduism are a victim of this criminal act of cultural appropriation.
It is interesting that while the Left vehemently criticises association of “Allahu Akbar” with terrorism, even though it is the terrorists themselves who use it before carrying out attacks, but validates the egregious cultural appropriation of Hindu Swastika by Nazis.
If one looks beyond this appropriation, one would find that Hitler and his Nazi Party have tremendous support from the Islamic fundamentalists, not the least due to his hatred of Jews.
Amin Al Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, supported anti-Jew Nazi agenda of Hitler and ran Nazi missions. The Mufti declared in November 1943:
“It is the duty of Muhammadans [Muslims] in general and Arabs in particular to ... drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries... . Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognised the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world.”
Hitler was quite popular and his Mein Kampf was being published in Arabic in different Muslim-majority countries since 1930s. It was also modified to subdue its racism for the Arabic audience. Many scholars have pointed to Mein Kampf to argue that Nazism became a major source of inspiration for Arab nationalism.
In October 1938, anti-Jewish treatises that included extracts from Mein Kampf were disseminated at an Islamic parliamentarians' conference "for the defense of Palestine" in Cairo.
In a Twitter thread, Abhas Malahiyadar provides different sources, where Hitler was “placed on a level with Prophet Muhammad” and hailed as the twelfth Imam, and how several parties across the Muslim world were inspired by Nazism. Muslim Brotherhood also has a foundational connection with Nazism.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi , an Egyptian Islamic theologian based in Doha, Qatar, and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, in 2008, hailed Hitler on Al Jazeera and defended the mass murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust as a "punishment" adding that the next such punishment will be at the hands of the believers.
Different Islamist groups continue to hail Hitler across the world, and in many Muslim protests his name and message continue to appear.
Hitler and other Nazi officials also appreciated Islam for being more amenable for a “masculine”, aggressive and fighting race.
Hitler fantasised that, if the Saracens had not been stopped at the Battle of Tours, Islam would have spread through the European continent and Europe could have been saved from being poisoned by the “Jewish Christianity” which doted on weakness and suffering. Both Islam and Nazism extolled strength - Hitler believed.
Heinrich Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi Party of Germany, in a January 1944 speech called Islam “a practical and attractive religion for soldiers,” with its promise of paradise and beautiful women for brave martyrs after their death. “This is the kind of language a soldier understands,” he said.