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Thursday, May 30, 2024

The soft Islamist playbook : a case study from “The Print”

Winston Churchill, as a pro-Muslim political leader, once said : ‘While the Hindu elaborates his argument, the Moslem sharpens his sword.’ This was in 1931 and much water has flowed under the London Bridge since then. However, the quote is still substantially true as has been proved by the events of the last few weeks. While Nupur Sharma answered with words the insult that Tasleem Rahmani heaped on Hindu Dharma, the victimhood complex of the Islamists immediately kicked in. They first started an international campaign against Bharata and when things began to die down, recently beheaded two people in two different states. The victims here are Hindus, plain and simple. No Muslim has been killed in the whole saga.

The shield and the sword

However, in the past few decades Islamists have also succeeded in creating a shield for themselves. These Islamists usually pose as secular intellectuals, but when time comes they rationalise the actions of radical Islamists. Let us call them soft Islamists for the sake of simplicity. Usually when the sword arm of Islam – we usually call them extremists, jihadis or terrorists- attack, the shield arm – intellectuals, journalists, artists, writers, activists etc- activate themselves. Let us take a case study.

Case Study

Today, an article appeared in propaganda portal The Print by one Zainab Sikandar titled “What India—Hindus and Muslims—missed in Supreme Court’s ‘lecture’ on Nupur Sharma.” The title looks very balanced. It talks about both Hindus and Muslims and alludes to something about the recent Supreme Court obiter dicta in Nupur Sharma case. For those not used to legal jargon, obiter dicta means “something said in passing.” It is not a part of judgment and is just something the judges say to make sense of whatever is in front of them. Remember this term, we will come back to it.

Anyways, so our intrepid journalist now bemoans in the first para itself that SC remark on Nupur Sharma “has been tragically oversimplified by the entire political spectrum of India, from Hindu liberals to Hindutva supporters to Muslims.” After a lot of fluff, she comes to the conclusion that Nupur Sharma should be harassed in every state of the country because same was done to makers of webseries Tandav. Now, that is a solid legal argument. Afterall precedents matter in our legal system. However as Zainab notes, precedents in Anthony case and Arnab Goswami case are not to be followed here. We will come to Zainab’s reasoning why one precedent should be followed and not others a while later. But before that, let us see what was the obiter dicta in the Tandav case. Justice MR Shah said thatpolice could also file closure reports if apology had been sought and the objectionable content removed.” Nupur had issued an apology long back, so why does not our Zainab feel so passionately about this obiter dicta and write an article advocating closure of cases against Nupur? We all know the answer to that.

Coming to the reasons for Zainab preferring the precedent of Tandav, let us read the reasoning she herself has given:-

A man beheaded in Rajasthan with a sinister terror plot in the making. Another man killed in Maharashtra. Violent protests all across the country, first by Muslims for remarks made on the Prophet in which a few people died, and then by Hindus when Kanhaiya Lal was beheaded ISIS style in Udaipur.

All this was precipitated by one person. But when the Supreme Court raps Nupur Sharma, a very confused India sits up to give bizarre remarks on something that should have been hailed as a precedent against hate speech. Nupur Sharma’s case is not just another crime. It can truly be termed as the first of its kind ‘hate speech case’ where an entire nation has been gripped in anarchy due to irresponsible commentary on television, which led to global condemnation. This case will set the precedent for subsequent hate speech cases.”

-from the article on The Print

According to Zainab, the beheadings of Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kolhe were “precipitated“(whatever that means) by one person, that is Nupur Sharma. That is why Nupur should be made an example of, perhaps like Kanhaiya and Umesh, so that others may learn better than mocking the Prophet of Muslims.

It is not that Zainab is blind to facts. As a modern woman who clearly is well read – she does quote Shakespeare in her article- she cannot be so gullible. She knows well that worse things are regularly said about Hindu Gods -on TV, in books, on social media and in mass meetings- by many of those protesting the comments on Muhammad. She does not blame the killers of Kanhaiya and Umesh, because blame must be shifted to non-Muslims at any cost. The real victims must be shamed and the imaginary victimhood of Muslims should never be questioned. Afterall, the emotion this fake victimhood generates is the foundation of Muslim street power and their political vote bank.

The Soft Islamist playbook

We just saw an example how the moderates or the soft Islamists act as the shield of radical jihadis. Let us try and delineate the elements of their playbook so that we may recognise the ploy next time we see it :-

  • The first element is to shift the blame. No Muslim can be blamed for anything he has done against a non-Muslim. It has be rationalised as an act of resilience, desperation or even duty for Islam. If this cannot be done, the person/accused has to be humanised. So, you might have to read about how a certain terrorist was an austere religious scholar, a devoted father, a gifted mathematician or the son of a headmaster. Obviously, such a noble soul did nothing out of malice.
  • Secondly, the paramount goal is to shield Islam from any blame. A soft Islamist will do any mental jugglery to shield Islamic madarsa education and deny the influence of Islamic teachings on actions of radical Islamists. There would be attempts to portray Islam as a socially liberating and progressive doctrine that sets humans free. Thus, any attempt to criticize Islam would be termed blasphemy and result in rabid attacks from all sides. However, there would be practically no criticism of names like “Jaish e Muhammad”(meaning : Army of Muhammad), “Lashkar e Taiyaba”(Army of Righteous i.e. Muslims) and so on. If these do not look like blasphemy to them, one must wonder why.
  • The propagation of Muslim victimhood is the third element of this playbook. This results in more unity in the millat(Islamic community) and also some misguided support from the outside. That is why every Muslim killed, whether innocent or not, is propagated across the world as oppression of Muslims. This includes condemned terrorists, criminals killed in a conflict or infiltrators dying while trying to cross over in some other country. Poignant photos and stirring videos amplify this victimhood today. You would see Muslim women saying that they are being oppressed. Interestingly, the existence of Hindu Dharma itself is “zulm”(oppression) to Muslims! Thus, whether they actually do any real oppression or not, Hindus automatically become zalim(oppressors). This is mentioned in the Quran itself. The meaning of “Ae Zalimo, Ae Kafiro, Kashmir hamara chhor do” might become clear now.

This playbook can be seen in action across the world. It is a fine example of the power of identity where the soft Islamist supports even the patently unjust actions and intentions of the radicals. Just like Imran Khan was once described as a “Taliban without beard”, many Taliban in Bharata can be seen without beards and burkas. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, if they be waspish, best beware their sting and the remedy is then to pluck it out.

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Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey is an Educator based in Dehradun, currently working as Senior Staff Writer with HinduPost. He is an Engineer by training and a teacher by passion. He teaches for Civil Service Exams as well as for Common Law Admission Test. He has deep interest in politics, economy, culture and all things Bharatiya. He fancies himself to be a loving husband and doting father. His weakness is Bharatiya food, particularly sweets. His hobbies include reading, writing and listening to Bharatiya music.


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