Bombay Sapphire

Sunday, November 30, 2008


If you’re going to listen to anyone talk about Pakistan and India, Tariq Ali is the one. The round-the-clock coverage of the Mumbai hostage crisis was essentially hollow. I had MSNBC on for nearly all of Thankstaking Day, and they talked about nothing but Mumbai. Unfortunately they provided scant context and history, let alone analysis of the attacks. And forget about any discussion of root causes–I didn’t hear "Gujarat" mentioned once. In 2002 over 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were massacred by Hindus (in retaliation for a Muslim massacre of 58 Hindus on a train). As if the deaths aren’t awful enough, the slaughter was apparently carried out with encouragement from the right wing Hindu nationalist state government, which takes the whole affair from "communal violence" to a pogrom. According to Ashutosh Varshney, associate associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and director of its Center for South Asian Studies,

Reports in almost all major newspapers of India, with the exception of the vernacular press in Gujarat, show that at least in March, if not April, the state not only made no attempt to stop the killings, but also condoned them.6 That the government "officially encouraged" anti-Muslim violence—something often believed—cannot be conclusively proved on the basis of the evidence provided by newspaper reports, though later research may well prove that. What is unquestionable is that the state condoned revenge killings.

In no way am I trying to condone the Deccan Mujahideen’s actions–they stand out as examples of just how awful we, as humans, can be. I do, though, think there is a lot more to it than "Muslim fundamentalism/extremism/terrorism." I mean, the media here, and the state of India, are pushing the idea that terrorism is endemic to Islam. Just listen to the coverage! The rush to connect these 19 year old boys to Pakistan was incredibly swift. Why?

Well, this view of Muslims has a practical, geopolitical function, namely military action against the people of Pakistan. Which brings us to the Tariq Ali video at opening of this post. It doesn’t look good, folks. The fearsome military power (both state and private) that will be shifted from Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be good for any of us. It’s terrorism, too, afterall.


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