Ten ways to counter radicalisation in India


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Sep 5, 2016
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Editor's Note: This piece is based on Tufail Ahmad’s speech at a recent counter-radicalisation conference in India

Let's think over some points.

One, Hindu Pandits were expelled from Kashmir but they, we, did not fight back or become suicide bombers. So, is cowardice built into the Indian mindset? The Quran and Hadiths (traditions of Prophet Muhammad) will not change. So, is there a way for the Indian state to introduce change among Muslims?

Two, the jihadi threat to India will not end over the next decade because: a) It is backed by Pakistan where jihadi groups will become part of the state much like Hezbollah and Hamas and b) Jihadis will likely surge in Bangladesh as the Islamist Opposition is bound to return to power at some point.

Three, Jihadism is an offshoot of the failing international state system built from the 1648 Westphalian Peace Treaty and anchored since 1945 by the UN. Since there is no reform in the UN, parts of the world will remain unstable.

Four, jihadism partially originates from the Middle East where jihadi groups will grow because there is no joint effort by big powers to contain it.

Five, there is a worrying template: militants from Afghan jihad went on to establish jihadi groups in the Middle East; militants from Syria will do the same in parts of the world.

Six, India has been witnessing "mini jihadisms" — in the form of bomb blasts, or the cutting off of TJ Joseph's hands in Kerala — ever since the beheading of Guru Tegh Bahadur in Delhi for refusing to convert to Islam.

In 1901, US President William McKinley was assassinated by a refugee who was inspired by a philosophy. Jihadism is rooted in a philosophy. Islam is a philosophy, a religion, a system of ideas, an ideology, a type of politics, a movement of ideas. As an article published earlier on Firstpost, Islamism is Islam's methodology. Jihadism is the weaponised version of Islamism. Peacefully and violently, it seeks to introduce Shari'a code in our life. India is already a Shari'a-compliant state in the matters of Muslim marriage, divorce, inheritance and waqf which affect our justice system and women’s rights.

I object to the use of the term "violent extremism." It was introduced to soothe the personal sensibilities of the current tenant of the White House and will change if Donald Trump wins. It assumes that non-violent extremism, the first-stage cancer, is acceptable. David Cameron was clearer in Birmingham: "A key part of our strategy must be to tackle both parts of the creed – the non-violent and violent."

Representational image. AFP

Counter-radicalisation Step 1: Diagnosis

The first counter-radicalisation measure is to diagnose the problem correctly by its proper name. Since tuberculosis cannot be called cancer, jihadism cannot be called violent extremism.

Communism, Fascism and Jihadism originate essentially from the educated class, never from the masses. Consider this: Urdu weekly Nai Duniya is serialising an Urdu book Aur Talwar Toot Gayee (And the Sword Broke) by Nasim Hijazi, cultivating a jihadi mindset among Indian Muslims. It also published a report saying: Barack Obama has a plan to drop atom bomb on Kaaba in Mecca.

On 17th Ramzan (23 June) this year, Urdu dailies such as Roznama Sangam of Patna, Delhi's Roznama Sahafat, and Roznama Inquilab of Mumbai published laudatory articles on Ghazwa-e-Badr, Prophet Muhammad's first war against infidels. In 2015, a Hyderabad cleric led funeral prayers for the Charlie Hebdo attackers. Remember: Peaceful groups and individuals radicalise Muslims.

Step 2: Counter-radicalisation law

The second measure is to write a counter-radicalisation law.

This law must criminalise glorification of jihad in peaceful ways by editors and Islamic clerics. It must protect security agents and provide them legal cover. It must introduce FBI-like sting operations. It must make evidence collected in sting operations admissible in courts.

Islam is a language of separatism. In Afghanistan, Muslims fought against the Soviets with aid from non-Muslims and after the war went separate ways. In 1857, Muslims fought against the British alongside Hindus but went separate ways later, with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan setting up a Muslim university that gave birth to Pakistan Movement, creating Pakistan.

During the freedom struggle, Muslims chose separatism from Hindus. Now, Muslims demand separate quota. Keep in mind: Islam challenges integration.

Step 3: National integration policy

Evolve a national integration policy, notably by adopting a national policy of free education, free clothes and free books for children of BPL families irrespective of religion and caste. It will make caste- and religion-based quota politics redundant and will contain Islam's challenge to the pluralism of India.

We have seen three colonial movements of ideas: American, British and the Islamic. While American and British colonialisms were two-way processes, Islamic colonialism is a one-way street. Multan was a Hindu city which it is not. Lahore was a Sikh metropolis which it is not. As a movement of ideas, Islam eradicated Indian civilisations from Afghanistan, Balochistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir. Now in Birbhum district, Durga Puja is banned.

Step 4: Textbooks on Indian classics in school

Introduce textbooks on Indian classics and classical Indian thinkers from grade 1 through 12.

Since Islam wipes out indigenous civilisations, teaching our kids Indian classics and civilisation will assist them intellectually to protect our ways of living.

By 2050, India will have the largest Muslim population at 311 million. Hindu leaders teach their kids in good schools. The Indian state has handed over its responsibility to teach Muslim kids to madrassas, which are fountains of orthodoxies, counter-liberty movements, not schools.

Step 5: Treat Madrassas as non-schools

Classify all madrassas as non-schools and enforce the RTE, which requires children aged 6-14 to be in schools.

From 9 am to 5 pm, all children, Hindus or Muslims, must be in schools. Rewrite the Kapil Sibbal amendment in RTE Act which gave exception to madrassas. RTE Act can be changed because the right to education is a fundamental right, the RTE Act itself is not a right.

Also, Right to Religion is a fundamental right, but among all fundamental rights, it is the most inferior right. A child’s fundamental right to education will always override right to religion.

Additionally, if you cannot vote before 18, if you cannot marry before 18, you do not have right to religion before 18.

In theocratic and authoritarian systems consensus originates from similarities. In democracies consensus emerges from differences. India derives its consensus and security from its people, its law and its diversities. Threats to India's cohesion can be countered through our education which is failing our next generations.

Representational image. AFP

Step 6: Textbooks on comparative religions

Introduce a series of textbooks on comparative religions from Grade 1 through 12.

Textbooks must teach moral points from all religions, including and especially from Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Atheism.

Islamic reformation will begin the day Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Jamaat-e-Islami elect women as leaders. However, being anti-women, they will not act. But, the Indian state can do something.

Step 7: Teach the sciences to Muslim children

Introduce compulsory teaching of mathematics, physics and economics to all Muslim children from Grade 1 through 12.

Also, the Indian state must introduce sports like wrestling through school education. India must also introduce a two-year military service for all citizens, including for Muslim women above 18 years of age.

Jihadi videos show hateful teachings from Islam. Even in everyday life a number of hateful phrases are used against non-Muslims and against liberal Muslims by Islamists.

Step 8: Criminalise phrases like Kuffar etc

Enact a law to criminalise phrases like Kuffar (infidels), Murtad (apostates), Munafiqeen (hypocrites) and Jihad.

These phrases pose a threat to pluralism which defines Indian civilisation. Also, the Ministry of Home Affairs is a threat to India’s national security if the Home Minister edits an affidavit to save a terrorist. The IPS officer essentially radicalises Muslims if he arrests Kamlesh Tiwari and not the Islamic scholars of Bijnor who publicly offer a reward of 51 lakh rupees to behead an Indian citizen. India must invest $100 billion in last-mile police stations.

Islamism cannot succeed without assistance from Hindu Islamists – of whom Mahatma Gandhi tops the list for supporting the Islamic Caliphate. Hindu-Indian leaders believe that Sufism can help counter radicalisation and promote pluralism.

Step 9: Fatwa against fundamentalism

Get a Sufi conference to issue a fatwa which must say: one, Shias are Muslims. Two, Ahmadis are Muslims. Three, a Muslim woman can be the head of the state. Four, non-Muslims can be the head of a Muslim state. Five, no one will be killed for critcising Prophet Muhammad. Six, no one will be beheaded for leaving Islam. Seven, members of the gay community will not be murdered.

Include this fatwa in school textbooks on comparative religion.

Radicalisation is connected to Islam through Islamic institutions. A number of Islamic groups and organisations cultivate the jihadi mindset. Such organisations belong to all schools of Islam and insofar as security threat is concerned, all sects radicalise Muslims.

Step 10: Register madrassas etc as NGOs

Require madrassas, mosques, khanqahs (monasteries) and dargahs (shrines) to register as NGOs and get a PAN card.

All institutions must be required to upload a quarterly report on their income and names of leaders on a government website.

Bear in mind: India was partitioned in the name of religion – not by the BJP or the RSS. Think of this: at what point it became an acceptable idea that it was right to partition India? In the age of the internet, nations will be invaded by ideas. TV debates about pellet guns are more powerful than bullets. Fatwas are more consequential than the Supreme Court orders. As we see in Kashmir, jihad could be more dangerous for militaries. We are losing Kashmir to Islam.

Former BBC journalist, Tufail Ahmad is a contributing editor at Firstpost, and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif

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