Indian Muslims can be compared to Black Americans

By: Syed Tahir Rashdi

Recent incidents of racism in USA and rest of the world have not happened by chance or accidental in nature actually such incidents were expected. President of US, Barack Obama is right when he says that massacre at historic African-American church in Charleston in South Carolina is racism and that racism still haunts the United States. He has also warned that people of US have to be vigilant since it still lingers and when it is poisoning the minds of young people, it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart. The death of a black man in Minneapolis, USA who died in police custody because of suffocation as a white policeman continually pressed on his neck with his knee has reignited anger across USA over racist approach of police. There have been violent protests, by blacks and whites alike, in many parts of the country against this killing. Even the White House had to be placed under a lockdown as protests raged outside. This incident is a manifestation of the racial abuse that continues to plague USA even in the 21st century. While some accept it’s existence, there are many who follow an ostrich like approach and pretend that it does not exist. Governments over the years have done little to address this serious problem. “A riot is the language of the unheard”: More than half a century ago, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. explained why black people take to the streets in the United States. It’s horrifying to see how little has changed since then. Once more, thousands are demonstrating against racism and police brutality. And once more, they have little hope that anything will change. This incident in USA has given rise to a movement that has been christened as “Black Lives Matter’. There can be no two opinions that Black Lives do matter as does any other human life irrespective of one’s colour, creed, faith, shape or belief. Some overzealous Indian liberals, media persons and others have been quick to equate the plight of black men in USA with that of Muslims in India. They want a similar movement in India and are calling it ‘Muslim Lives Matter’. Is it a right analogy? Can Indian Muslims be compared to Black Americans? Is the communal divide between Hindus and Muslims in India same as racism between Whites and Blacks in USA? It may be prudent to understand a few basic facts before any comparisons can be made. India has witnessed communal riots on a regular basis after independence. But there is a fundamental difference between such riots and racism. What happened in Minneapolis was an act of racism. Racism is all about one group considering itself to be superior to the other. Therefore, it believes it has the right to treat others as inferior beings. The superior justify their acts of violence as part of their right to dominate. Communal riots, on the other hand, are acts of physical violence between two groups that are equally placed since there is nothing like superiority or inferiority among them. There is no denying that there have been occasions where some excesses may have been perpetuated on Muslims by authorities, but then can anyone deny that Hindus have never suffered such excesses at the hands of the same authorities? In USA both Whites and Blacks swear by the same constitution and hold it above their religious beliefs. This ensures a common civil code for all in America apart from a common law of the land. Their allegiance to the nation is supreme and above everything else. Unfortunately, in India, while everyone accepts the same constitution, there are times when Muslims hold their religion above it when it suits them. Many among them demand to be governed by Sharia laws as opposed to the law of the land with a common civil code. For many among Muslims, allegiance to their religion comes before the nation. Harsh as it may sound, but over the years this has been the reality.