India has the world’s third largest Muslim population of almost 175 million, and it is a country with the largest number of rational thinkers, and secularists, the vote-mongering political brigade notwithstanding. All over the world there has been a serious and sustained attack on rationalist thinkers and non-Muslims by self- styled jihadists, and a growing influence of Islamic State in Syria. Be it the series of terror attacks that we have seen in recent times – Paris, Belgium, Florida, Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad or the recent arrests if IS recruits in Hyderabad bring the danger closer to our country than we would like to believe, and the growing threat of terror modules within the country are far more dangerous than young misguided youth wanting to travel to Syria.
Bangladesh has announced that the shootout at the restaurant where the attackers slaughtered foreigners was indeed an act of home grown terrorists, and had no links to the IS. Over the last couple of years Bangladesh had witnessed attacks and murders of bloggers, rationalist thinkers, journalists and over and again Sheikh Hasina has denied any links to IS or Al Qaeda. However, analysts call this clear denial of the looming terror. This time the terrorists wanted to grab international attention and that they did, by attacking the restaurant frequented by foreigners, by singling out non-Muslims and by killing in a gruesome manner hacking people even though they carried guns.
In India, especially in Hyderabad – the leaders who are aelf-proclaimed protectors of religion and culture on both sides are involved in a blame game. While MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi blames the Sangh Parivar for spreading hatred and invoking the Muslim youth to retaliate, there are protests and appeals to arrest Asaduddin Owaisi on Sedition case for provoking communal disharmony.
However, this is the time to introspect and protect the youth of our country from being provoked and mis-guided, and the onus of this falls on all parties involved – be it RSS, BJP or MIM and Congress. For short term gains the parties in question are pitting one Indian against the other, one community against the other, and one region again the other. So far India has been immune to any grave danger from terror, especially because a large section of Indians of every community are democratic, peace loving and progressive. As long as this inclusive and plural fabric of our country in intact, threat of terrorists gaining foothold in our country will remain a far-fetched possibility – stray incidents will continue but no avail.
The answer to protect the identity of Indian Muslim does not lie in exclusive tactics, but by making them feel an important part of a developing nation that looks forward to positive contribution from each and every individual, of every caste, creed and religion. And it is up to every responsible leader who has to ensure thus.
Greater responsibility to guide and counsel Muslim youth lies with their leaders, Imams and teachers who must acknowledge the danger and take action immediately. While there are a few efforts to raise awareness against terror, they are not enough.