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March 8, 2001
MI3, The New Scourge
For all those who believe that Militant Islam is a vastly exaggerated fear, the recent events in Afghanistan should be an eye opener. If MI1 was the first step, to encourage religious fundamentalism and orthodoxy in Islamic nations, MI2 was the next. Exporting terrorism to different parts of the world and subverting free societies. Now we are watching the next step: MI3. Cultural vandalism and the dismantling of history.
The Taleban has not just vandalised Afghanistan's ancient Buddhist heritage, it has gone a step ahead to destroy some of the most exquisite and revered Buddha statues 1,500 years old that were still around and too big to hammer down with conventional tools.
So heavy duty tanks were brought in and high intensity artillery used to complete the ugly task of demolishing them. Arm by arm, leg by leg. So that the world outside realises that Militant Islam and its loyal followers will brook no interference in what they consider their inalienable right to spread the word of the Prophet by the sword.
If in the process they have to destroy all trace of the civilisations that preceded Islam, so be it. What Chengiz Khan failed to do, what survived Aurangzeb's blood-thirsty proselytising has been finally achieved by a bunch of illiterate vandals masquerading as men of faith. In the process, the world has lost some of its finest heritage.
The funny thing is that the Prophet never said that to establish the kingdom of Islam the faith of others must be razed to the ground. Muslim intellectuals, many of them Indians, have just issued a statement saying this.
Many Islamic clerics have protested against the vandalism conducted in the name of their faith. Thousands of liberal Muslims have voiced their anguish. But it is unlikely that this will have any impact on the Taleban which actually believes in this, the twentyfirst century, that men without beards must be put behind bars and girls who go to school should be flogged with leather thongs.
In other words, Militant Islam has become today a law unto itself. It spits on other faiths. It is self-driven, self-perpetuating. It causes pain to all those around it. What is worse, wherever it finds it convenient, it is ready to ignore the tenets of Islam itself in its search for absolute power.
No one is allowed to protest. Anyone who stands up to Militant Islam is branded a heretic or killed in cold blood. Those who survive, live forever under the shadow of fear. Hunted by a hugely networked terror mechanism that spans the entire globe. Fiercely motivated suicide squads have enhanced the fear psychosis and no one anywhere is ready to face the wrath of the mullahs.
They are seen as all-powerful and growing in their might and influence. To stand up to them is an impossible task and even the United States is reluctant to protect those whom Militant Islam has caught in its crosshairs. For never before has any religious group managed to assemble so much money, gun power and political influence in such a short time.
India has faced this, for the first time, in Kashmir. Those whom we call mercenaries and cross border terrorists are actually the foot soldiers of Militant Islam. They see the fight for Kashmir not as we do, as a political struggle that will be eventually determined by what the people of the state want. They see it as a holy war that must be fought and won for the cause of Militant Islam. Not for anyone else and, least of all, for the people of Kashmir. What matters for them is that their flag must flutter atop the besieged state. After that, whether it joins Pakistan or becomes an independent nation does not concern them. The issue is not freedom. It is Islam. Militant Islam in search of its kingdom. A kingdom across the world.
Who are the targets? Not just democracies like India. Not just other infidel states professing other religions. But eventually even the Muslim states themselves because, once Militant Islam succeeds in establishing its own territorial presence, it will try and create a global empire that it can run through its network of terror and intolerance. Liberal Muslim states and monarchies will crumble before its onslaught. The war machine will grow bigger and bigger, more and more dangerous. The frenzy will become so unmanageable that it will eventually destroy everything in its path.
That is why it is important to build international opinion against what is happening in Afghanistan. We must involve the Muslim nations and explain to them the growing danger from Militant Islam. They must realise that it is not what they think it is.
Militant Islam is actually a dangerous and scary political force that is using Islam as a convenient ploy to spread its tentacles of fear worldwide. But once it comes to power, it will do exactly what the Taleban is doing. It will enshrine tribal justice and redesign Islam to suit its own political needs. It will push back all the reforms we have achieved. It will shackle women, terrorise children, subvert democracies, dismantle the institutions we have built with so much effort. All that we value and cherish, liberty, justice, equality of the sexes will be compromised. What will remain is a desert. A desert where nothing will grow. Nothing but anger, intolerance, injustice.
That is why we must all take courage in our hands to fight back. Whether we are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Buddhists, Sikhs or Dalits. The secular institutions we have built up, not just in India but all over the world, are at stake today. We must defend them and, in the process, defend ourselves against the relentless march of Militant Islam.
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