Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

B. Raman, " Muslims & The Pre-Election Political Scene in India," South Asia Analysis Group, July 18, 2008.

[Muslim chat groups on the Internet] have noted that not only the leftist parties, but even the Indian political class as a whole and the Indian elite have maintained a silence over the recent public execution of two Uighurs, the arrest of about 80 others and the forcible closure of 40 mosques by the Chinese.... they have noted the energetic manner in which Indian public opinion reacted to the repression of the Tibetans, but maintained a discreet silence on the repression of the Muslims.

As the date (July 22, 2008) for the vote of confidence from the Lok Sabha in the Manmohan Government nears and as the possibility of a premature election to the Lok Sabha looms large, a question often debated is the attitude of the Indian Muslims to the Indo-US nuclear deal. Do they regard it as anti-Muslim because of the perceived anti-Muslim policies of the administration of President George Bush? That is the question which has been raised again and again by the critics of the deal and of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

In this connection, it would be pertinent to take note of the attitude of the Muslims in the Ummah as a whole since that could have an impact on the attitude of the Indian Muslims. The strongest criticism of India's developing relations with the US came from sections of the Muslims of the Ummah immediately after the visit of Bush to India in March, 2006. The criticism was not specific relating to the nuclear deal. It was more in relation to what they saw as India's co-operation with the US and Israel in the war against jihadi terrorism. They noted with anger and surprise the reluctance of different political formations in India---in the rulling alliance as well as in the opposition--- to criticise the allegedly inhuman conditions in which Muslims arrested in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world on suspicion of belonging to Al Qaeda were kept in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba and denied the basic human rights and the benefits of the due process of the law. Even the former Tony Blair Government of the UK, which was very supportive of the policies of the Bush Administration, expressed its discomfort over the conditions in which the Muslim detenus were kept in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and in May 2006 publicly called for winding up the Centre and transfering the detenus to the custody of the American civilian authorities from the custody of the military authorities. A similar demand has been voiced by many other democratic countries, by the International Committee of the Red Cross and by all human rights organisations of the West without exception. India's silence in this matter as well as over the repeated air strikes by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, which killed a large number of civilians, was an important source of anger. This silence was seen as the inevitable outcome of the growing Indo-US strategic relationship.

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