Importance of not Siding with Wrong

by Aug 8, 2023Defence & Foreign Policy0 comments

Narendra Modi’s Stand Over Quran Burning Raised Serious Issues !


On 12 July 2023, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – after the 28-12 vote, with seven abstentions – adopted a resolution that called on countries to take steps to “prevent and prosecute acts and advocacy of religious hatred that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

This was one of the nationally embarrassing days of Narendra Modi’s leadership when it buckled under empty threats from the Islamic nations with a very bleak record in human rights.

Regrettably, India chose to side with Pakistan, a country that’s internationally recognized as a rogue state; she goes around the world with a begging bowl expecting grants and aid. The Indian national defense and security apparatus knows Pakistan, the sponsor of the resolution, always aimed at India’s disintegration and periodically smuggled Islam-inspired terrorists, armaments and drugs. The Pakistani state always persecuted its Hindu minorities and women. Even the human rights organizations and media outlets of Pakistan go out of their way to draw international attention to these atrocities.

To be sure, the Indian official activities at the UN or its agencies come under aegis of the Foreign Ministry. Many Right-leaning, pro-Modi commentators have always been great drum-beaters of the current Foreign Minister of India. Did these commentators ask what was Jaishankar or his ministry doing? What advice did he offer to the prime minister on the issue of Quran burning? Or, did he just obey his boss blindly and faithfully? India should know answers to these questions.

The Modi government should have heard the United States or the European Union whose opposition to the Quran burning would have conflicted with their positions on human rights and freedom of expression. Narendra Modi should have been personally encouraged by France that recently honored him with the country’s highest civilian award, the Grand Cross of the Legion. In an eye-opening statement, the French ambassador Jerome Bonnafont noted that human rights “protect people – not religions, doctrines, beliefs or their symbols … It is neither for the United Nations nor for states to define what is sacred.” The extremely objectionable and yet unalterable verses of the Quran are no longer secrets to the world.

At the latest episode of Quran burning (28 June 2023), Salwan Momika, a former refugee from Iraq, now a Swedish citizen, and another protester stomped on copies of the Quran and a replica of the Iraqi flag. They tore up and burnt the Quran outside the central mosque in Stockholm on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

In his declaration, as quoted in the New York Times, Salwan Momika made what must be considered a few pertinent points. He questioned the mosque attendees why the Muslims were incensed over “some paper” being burnt, whereas they never assembled when “people were burned..and non-Muslims were killed or forced to emigrate.” Disagreeing with Islam’s teachings, he asserted, “I am not fighting anyone. I am fighting an idea with all means legally available.”

It shouldn’t be assumed, however, that the protests of Salwan Momika and his friend were going unanswered. As Al Jazeera reported, “A group of teenage boys swore repeatedly at the two men (desecrating the Quran) who were hemmed in behind a police cordon…police detained a man as he approached the security cordon with three rocks held in his hands behind his back.” “Officers quickly swooped in, tackled him to the ground, and carried him away,” the report continued.

Imagine, if one of the two men had been hit by the rocks?

Salwan Momika’s freedom of expression wasn’t an isolated incident. There have been incidents of overt or covert protests against the Quran in parts of the Scandinavian countries. The Swedish police periodically rejected applications for anti-Quran demonstrations, but the courts overruled their decisions on the ground of the right to freedom of speech. Early this year, Rasmus Paludan, a far-right politician, burnt the Quran in Stockholm near the Turkish embassy.

Following that incident, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a warning to Sweden: “If you do not show respect to the religious beliefs of the Republic of Turkey or Muslims, you will not receive any support for NATO from us.”

As it turned out, empty threats of Turkey didn’t stand in the way of Sweden becoming a member of NATO.

An international empirical observation could be made here: When countries stand up to the Islamist nations, the latter buckle in quickly. No Islamist nation officially reprimanded the Chinese for their treatment of the native Muslims. Pakistan lay prostrate before China to get financial aid.

Now evaluate Prime Minister Modi’s government stand vis a vis the Islamic world. From Pakistan or Afghanistan, every day, news related to desecration of Hindu temples keep coming in; Hindus or other non-Muslim minorities are forcibly converted into Islam; Hindu minor girls are raped or married into the Muslim families. The world gets to see their videos.

What has the Modi government been doing?

A couple of years ago, in Bangladesh, the head priest of an ISKCON temple was murdered after the Islamists had placed a copy of the Quran in a Hanuman temple and planted its picture on social media. The venue of Durga Puja was gutted. What was the government of Narendra Modi that claims to be representing the interests of the Hindus doing?

It is now talked about even in favorable circles that the time has come to seriously raise doubts about the nature of PM Modi’s connection with the Islamic or the Muslim majority countries. The Middle Eastern connection of all the Indian business patronized by Narendra Modi and his National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval’s commercial ties with the Gulf countries (through his son) are all over the Social Media. Are they all entirely wrong or exaggerated?

It’s not without tangible reasons, it is alleged, that PM Narendra Modi was conferred a considerable number of honors and medals including the highest civilian awards from countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. On the Nupur Sharma issue, he bent on his knees before a country like Qatar, bringing dishonor not only to his party but to the entire nation.

It is not conceivable that PM Narendra Modi, with his years of schooling in the Hindu nationalist organizations like the RSS, didn’t understand the implication of his actions. What exactly has brought about a perceptible change in the philosophy and approach of a leader who was reputed as having known the soul of India? He was looked upon as a leader who would lead a civilizational war.

At this point in Indian history, Narendra Modi is arguably seen as standing close to where Mohandas Gandhi was during the Moplah genocide in the 1920’s. The difference is – unlike Gandhi – Modi isn’t so brazenly or vocally on the side of the murdering and plundering Islamists. Combined together, the Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities uprooted from and killed in the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh would far outnumber the victims of the Khilafat movement. Then, a shocked nation and the people, in thrall for their leader, didn’t raise the flag of rebellion against Gandhi.

A century later, it would be interesting to see in what image does Narendra Modi cast himself ?

(Views of the author are Personal)

[Originally from Darbhanga, Bihar (India), Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad lives in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He is a former UGC teacher fellow at JNU in India and a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. Author of scholarly works including a book, “Violence Against Minorities”, “Gandhi in the Age of Globalization” (a monograph) and a collection of poems”, Dr Prasad has taught at Ryerson University, Centennial College and McMaster University. He has also been the president of Hamilton based India-Canada Society (2006-08 and 2018-20)]

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