Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Terrorists Don’t Have a Religion

By Antara Dev Sen - Sify News - Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The celebrations for Navaratri and Eid were on. This was the festive season, a time for dressing up and celebrating life, a time for fasting and feasting for both Hindus and Muslims.

But terrorists excel in destroying the festive spirit. On October 14, the evening of Eid and a Sunday, a bomb killed seven and injured 32 in a Ludhiana film theatre.

Just a couple of days earlier, on October 8, a bomb had ripped through Ajmer Sharif, the dargah of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti, just as tired and hungry devotees had sat down for their iftaar, to break their ramzaan fast. Three died and about 30 were injured, many of them maimed for life.

The spirit of Eid and Navaratri was broken. And for the first time in almost 800 years, the drums that had hailed the festive Eid moon at the historic Sufi shrine remained silent.

Terrorism is not new for us in India. We are used to hidden bombs, lobbed grenades, ambushes, kidnappings, even direct attacks by gunmen.

We don’t travel in buses without checking under the seat, we raise a hue and cry if we see a bag without a clear and present owner at railway stations, we submit to meticulous security measures and checks at airports, culminating in the clamour to identify our checked-in baggage right before boarding the plane.

We routinely walk through metal detectors in shopping centres, offices, movie halls, theatres, weddings and even book releases. We are used to being frisked at every step.

Yes, we are used to terrorism and senseless killing. We have faced the terrorism of Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Maoists and even tribal warriors. But we haven’t yet got used to the idea of murder during worship.

So when bombs rip through a mosque or a temple, we are unnerved. In real terms, bombing devotees praying at a temple or mosque is not that different from killing innocents by planting a bomb in any crowded place. But it has a psychological edge – the violation of sacred space.

It is not just targeting faceless, nameless masses in a train compartment or marketplace, it is targeting a community, a religious belief, it is attacking our gods. Or it seems that way.

Which is why we are so eager to jump to conclusions about the attackers. If it’s a mosque that has been attacked, it must be a Hindu terrorist. If it’s a temple, it must be a Muslim terrorist. But in our incredibly complex matrix of fanaticism and hate spanning across South Asia, the obvious is not always true.

We must guard against being manipulated. All too often we are whipped into a frenzy by vested interests and pounce upon each other in murderous assaults. Playing right into the hands of those depraved individuals who launch these despicable attacks.

Terrorists don’t have a religion. They just try to appropriate one. Look around you. On October 12, the day after the Ajmer Sharif blast and the holy Friday before Eid, a bomb exploded near a mosque in Helmand, Afghanistan. At least two people were killed and several injured.

Also last week, gunmen opened fire in a mosque near Kabul, killing and wounding several. Muslim terrorists – mostly Al-Qaeda and the Taliban – regularly attack mosques in Afghanistan, killing devotees at prayer.

And the bloodshed in Pakistan’s Lal Masjid in July, including the suicide bombing, was also perpetrated by Muslims on Muslims.

But we cannot call these killers true believers of any faith. Because the religious – whatever their faith – cannot plot to kill devotees at prayer. And most of the attacks on our temples and mosques are planned for maximum damage, aiming at the most crowded congregations. Take a look at the recent attacks on religious places.

All these bombings happened around the time of the main prayers on a particularly holy day. Ajmer Sharif was attacked during iftaar, when hundreds had gathered to break their fast.

The attack on Hyderabad’s Mecca Mosque in May this year was launched during the special Friday prayers, leaving 16 devotees dead and scores wounded.

Last year’s serial bombing in Malegaon, Maharashtra, included a blast during the Friday prayers in the local mosque and graveyard during the special shab-e-barat service for the dead. The three bombs killed 38 and injured more than 100.

The bomb blasts in Delhi’s Jama Masjid last year also took place at the time of the Friday prayers, injuring several.

(...)

Besides, terrorist attacks especially on Ajmer Sharif cannot destroy the all-enveloping love that the dargah signifies. As the shrine of Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chisti – originally built by Humayun and developed in stages by Akbar, Jehangir and Shahjahan – it blesses not just Muslims, but anyone who prays there.

We have nurtured Chisti’s faith in the unity of humanity – cutting across religion, gender, nationality and caste – for eight centuries. It has helped make India this vibrant land of pluralism and diversity, which cannot be fractured by faithless terrorists.

Even then, in this season of goodwill and worship, let us call upon whatever we hold sacred, and pray for peace.

Antara Dev Sen is the editor of The Little Magazine, an independent publication devoted to essays, fiction and criticism on themes that are ignored by the mainstream media. Sen also writes for the Open Democracy Movement and is an advisor for Words Without Borders [http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/]. She can be contacted at sen@littlemag.com

1 comment:

irving said...

The worship of death is the religion of these murderers, and Satan is their God. Hell will be their home in the next life.

Ya Haqq!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Terrorists Don’t Have a Religion
By Antara Dev Sen - Sify News - Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The celebrations for Navaratri and Eid were on. This was the festive season, a time for dressing up and celebrating life, a time for fasting and feasting for both Hindus and Muslims.

But terrorists excel in destroying the festive spirit. On October 14, the evening of Eid and a Sunday, a bomb killed seven and injured 32 in a Ludhiana film theatre.

Just a couple of days earlier, on October 8, a bomb had ripped through Ajmer Sharif, the dargah of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti, just as tired and hungry devotees had sat down for their iftaar, to break their ramzaan fast. Three died and about 30 were injured, many of them maimed for life.

The spirit of Eid and Navaratri was broken. And for the first time in almost 800 years, the drums that had hailed the festive Eid moon at the historic Sufi shrine remained silent.

Terrorism is not new for us in India. We are used to hidden bombs, lobbed grenades, ambushes, kidnappings, even direct attacks by gunmen.

We don’t travel in buses without checking under the seat, we raise a hue and cry if we see a bag without a clear and present owner at railway stations, we submit to meticulous security measures and checks at airports, culminating in the clamour to identify our checked-in baggage right before boarding the plane.

We routinely walk through metal detectors in shopping centres, offices, movie halls, theatres, weddings and even book releases. We are used to being frisked at every step.

Yes, we are used to terrorism and senseless killing. We have faced the terrorism of Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Maoists and even tribal warriors. But we haven’t yet got used to the idea of murder during worship.

So when bombs rip through a mosque or a temple, we are unnerved. In real terms, bombing devotees praying at a temple or mosque is not that different from killing innocents by planting a bomb in any crowded place. But it has a psychological edge – the violation of sacred space.

It is not just targeting faceless, nameless masses in a train compartment or marketplace, it is targeting a community, a religious belief, it is attacking our gods. Or it seems that way.

Which is why we are so eager to jump to conclusions about the attackers. If it’s a mosque that has been attacked, it must be a Hindu terrorist. If it’s a temple, it must be a Muslim terrorist. But in our incredibly complex matrix of fanaticism and hate spanning across South Asia, the obvious is not always true.

We must guard against being manipulated. All too often we are whipped into a frenzy by vested interests and pounce upon each other in murderous assaults. Playing right into the hands of those depraved individuals who launch these despicable attacks.

Terrorists don’t have a religion. They just try to appropriate one. Look around you. On October 12, the day after the Ajmer Sharif blast and the holy Friday before Eid, a bomb exploded near a mosque in Helmand, Afghanistan. At least two people were killed and several injured.

Also last week, gunmen opened fire in a mosque near Kabul, killing and wounding several. Muslim terrorists – mostly Al-Qaeda and the Taliban – regularly attack mosques in Afghanistan, killing devotees at prayer.

And the bloodshed in Pakistan’s Lal Masjid in July, including the suicide bombing, was also perpetrated by Muslims on Muslims.

But we cannot call these killers true believers of any faith. Because the religious – whatever their faith – cannot plot to kill devotees at prayer. And most of the attacks on our temples and mosques are planned for maximum damage, aiming at the most crowded congregations. Take a look at the recent attacks on religious places.

All these bombings happened around the time of the main prayers on a particularly holy day. Ajmer Sharif was attacked during iftaar, when hundreds had gathered to break their fast.

The attack on Hyderabad’s Mecca Mosque in May this year was launched during the special Friday prayers, leaving 16 devotees dead and scores wounded.

Last year’s serial bombing in Malegaon, Maharashtra, included a blast during the Friday prayers in the local mosque and graveyard during the special shab-e-barat service for the dead. The three bombs killed 38 and injured more than 100.

The bomb blasts in Delhi’s Jama Masjid last year also took place at the time of the Friday prayers, injuring several.

(...)

Besides, terrorist attacks especially on Ajmer Sharif cannot destroy the all-enveloping love that the dargah signifies. As the shrine of Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chisti – originally built by Humayun and developed in stages by Akbar, Jehangir and Shahjahan – it blesses not just Muslims, but anyone who prays there.

We have nurtured Chisti’s faith in the unity of humanity – cutting across religion, gender, nationality and caste – for eight centuries. It has helped make India this vibrant land of pluralism and diversity, which cannot be fractured by faithless terrorists.

Even then, in this season of goodwill and worship, let us call upon whatever we hold sacred, and pray for peace.

Antara Dev Sen is the editor of The Little Magazine, an independent publication devoted to essays, fiction and criticism on themes that are ignored by the mainstream media. Sen also writes for the Open Democracy Movement and is an advisor for Words Without Borders [http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/]. She can be contacted at sen@littlemag.com

1 comment:

irving said...

The worship of death is the religion of these murderers, and Satan is their God. Hell will be their home in the next life.

Ya Haqq!