The explosion of anti-Hindu violence in Sheikh Hasina’s Bangladesh should force India to rethink its attitude to this supposedly moderate Islamic nation. The deafening silence of the Narendra Modi government, supposedly a “Hindu nationalist” one, is eloquent. While one can charitably note that antagonising Bangladesh could end up in India opening another live border in eastern and north-eastern India, not doing anything by word or deed is not an option. India needs to re-evaluate its relationship with Bangladesh, especially in relationship to its minorities, at the very least.
For Hindus in India and elsewhere, this is yet another wake-up call on the nature of Islamic/Islamist society. No matter what a constitution says, it is the nature of Islamic society, and its underlying imperialist commitment to the establishment of Islam all over the world, that needs to be taken into account. While this expansionist ideology is common to another Abrahamic religion — Christianity — as well, the difference is that Christianity now seeks to expand its imperial reach through economic inducements, consumer marketing techniques, and planting churches and crosses all over.
Islam depends on a degree of violence, intimidation and demographic change to grow into a superpower. Dhimmitude on the part of Hindus and “woke” liberals and the Left helps this process. A dhimmi is a second-class citizen living in a Sharia-ruled state; dhimmitude is about the adoption of appeasement policies vis-a-vis Islam and Muslims in non-Muslim majority states.
On Bangladesh, one conclusion is important: no matter what Sheikh Hasina says, and despite her supposed secular credentials, radical Muslims — aided by the silence of ordinary Muslims — will seek to destroy or demonise all other religions in Bangladesh. This is one reason why the Hindu population is down from over 22 per cent in 1951 to less than 9 per cent now. The decline is the result of ethnic cleansing, conversions prompted by slow discrimination and intimidation, and emigration to India.
The last was the reason why the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was legislated in 2019, though it does not go far enough. It will be of no help to the Hindus now being persecuted by Islamist mobs, since the cutoff for faster citizenship under CAA is December 2014.
The two immediate things to do are the following: the CAA has to be made more open-ended and should include a right to return for all Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Indian-origin Buddhists and tribals living in pre-partition India. India owes a civilisational duty to offer them refuge and support at all times unless they have converted away to Islam or Christianity. The rest of the world can take care of the latter — whether it is Rohingyas or Ahmaddiyas — if they are persecuted. As the only country with a substantial Hindu majority (Nepal and Mauritius don’t count), this is India’s dharmic duty.
The second thing we need to do is to ensure that even a Bangladesh is not given the opportunity to happily push its own minorities out. We need a more robust policy of ensuring that Hindus have safe zones inside Bangladesh, as should be the case in Pakistan and even in Kashmir. How exactly this can be woven in our new Bangladesh policy can be discussed separately, and this could include economic incentives and specific policing support, but it should include a strong Hindu commitment to a reconversion strategy in India and the rest of the Indian sub-continent.
The problem, let us be clear, is that you cannot be secular and Islamic at the same time, for Islam declares all non-Muslims as kafirs. Hinduism leaves space for the nastik, but not Islam. Kafir hate is etched into the Islamic fundamentalism mindset, and nothing the constitution or the court says will change that unless Muslims confront this ideology internally. But there is no sign that this is happening anywhere in the sub-continent.
Coming back to Sheikh Hasina, India needs to ask itself whether she is at all capable of giving her Hindu vote bank a fair deal. Hasina has been helpful to India in apprehending some extremists operating in the North-East, but she cannot really act against her own Islamists for fear of losing domestic Muslim support. In short, her hands are tied even assuming she wants to remain secular.
In 2014, Hasina made her intentions clear when she said that Bangladesh will always be a Muslim majority country and it will be run according to the Medina Charter, which the Prophet drew up when he fled from Mecca and had to lead a mixed community which was half-Jewish. But by the time he left Medina to return to Mecca and claim victory, there were no Jewish tribes left. So, the Medina Charter is no consolation to any kafir.
The Bangladesh Constitution, even though it embraces the four ideals of democracy, socialism, nationalism and secularism, starts with an invocation to Allah, which implies that other religions are not on a par with it. Hasina herself has said that “There will be no law against the Holy Koran and Sunnah here ever.” How can any other religion, which may disagree with Islam, then claim equal status? Nobody is asking for any law against the Quran, but if abuse of other religions is fair game, how is the field level or secular? The alleged blasphemy against the Quran, which was used as a ruse to attack Hindus in Bangladesh this time, is clearly part of this one-sidedness in Islam.
The Quran and the Sunnah, which include the biography of Muhammed and the Hadith, constitute the trilogy of Islamic fundamentals, and none of these has much to reassure kafirs. The trilogy asks Muslims to shun relationships with kafirs, and Allah himself told the Prophet that he is plotting the downfall of kafirs.
According to Bill Warner, who has scientifically studied the Quran, Hadith and Sira (the Prophet’s biography), more than half the Quran is obsessed with how kafirs should be treated or mis-treated. The Prophet himself had a poor tolerance for kafirs, as the killings of his detractors shows. Islam is less a religion and more about a political statement of domination (View Warner’s comments on the political nature of Islam here).
If anybody has any doubts what a Sharia-ruled polity ultimately leads to, you could do no better than to read what Derek O’Brien, a vocal member of the Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, had to say about what happened to his Anglo-Indian family that remained in Pakistan after Partition. In a postscript, he recalls a visit by his brother Andy to Pakistan to try and locate his extended family which got separated during Partition. But there is no Amar, Akbar, Antony happy ending here.
He wrote in IndiaToday’s I-Day issue in August 2012:
“In the year 1984, my brother Andy, then a sports journalist, travelled to Karachi for hockey's Champions Trophy. He was determined to trace the lost O'Briens of Pakistan. Eventually he found them and renewed contact. My father's uncle was dead, but the rest of the family was still there and greeted their Indian cousin very warmly. Most of my father's generation and all of the next generation - my second cousins - had converted to Islam. The pressure had been too much. Being a minority in Pakistan was tough business. Andy came home and told us the strange and sombre story of the Muslim Anglo-Indian clan of Lahore and Karachi. We sat in silence, still digesting it. I thought of our life in India, the freedom to go to church, the freedom to practise my faith, the freedom to be myself, the freedom that my country gave its minorities. I've never felt prouder of being an Indian. (italics mine).
O’Brien, now firmly committed to the Trinamool’s dhimmi politics of Muslim appeasement, will probably not write the same things about minorities in Bangladesh, but the truth cannot be suppressed anymore. Minorities do not get equal treatment in Sharia-ruled or Muslim-majority countries. There is no other way to say this. Dhimmitude, living as second-class citizens, is their next best option, but that is about slow evisceration and ultimate conversion to Islam.
India needs a serious rethink on Bangladesh. Islam and secularism are polar opposites.
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