Sadanand Duhme: India Appeases Radical Islam

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Friday's multiple bomb blasts in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh -- which killed 13 people and injured about 80 -- ought to give pause to those who see the world's largest democracy as a linchpin in the war on terror. India's leaders and diplomats seek to portray the country as a firebreak against radical Islam, or the drive to impose the medieval Arab norms enshrined in Shariah law on 21st century life. In reality, India is ill- equipped to fight this scourge.

Like neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, (and unlike Turkey or Tunisia) India has failed to modernize much of its Muslim population. Successive generations of politicians have pandered to the most backward elements of India's 150-million strong Muslim population, the second largest in the world after Indonesia's. India has allowed Muslims to follow Shariah in civil matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. An increasingly radicalized neighborhood, fragmented domestic politics and a curiously timid mainstream discourse on Islam add up to hobble India's response to radical Islamic intimidation.

Most Indian Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, and are more concerned with the struggles of daily life than the effort to create a global caliphate. Muslim contributions to the fabric of national life -- most visible in sports, movies and the arts -- should not be dismissed. Furthermore, religious zealotry in India is not a Muslim monopoly. Still, the notion that Indian Islam is uniquely tolerant, or somehow immune to the rising tide of world-wide radical sentiment, is a myth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

Posted November 27, 2007 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Abu Daoud wrote:

Appeasement really is the worst of all strategies. I’m afraid that Islam in general only understands the language of force.

I have written on the Sword of Religion in Islam for those of you interested in such topics.

November 27, 11:11 am | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

This article is right on. India’s Muslims, living under sharia law except for criminal matters, are a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists.  India’s justifiable obsession with the threat from Pakistan is blinding it to the threat from within.

November 27, 1:15 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeffersonian wrote:

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the only language Islam understands is force, but it’s becoming clear that Islam certainly takes advantage of any and all cultural vacuums to expand.  Societies undermined by corrosive intellectual and cultural trends are ripe for Islamist takeover.

November 27, 10:26 pm | [comment link]
4. Abu Daoud wrote:

Jeffersonian, I was careful to say “in general.”

November 28, 6:26 pm | [comment link]
5. JGeorge wrote:

The author suggests that “democracy” and “bedrock democratic principles” will offer an “antidote to radical Islamic fervor”. His own examples of terrorists are Muslims who are very highly educated from countries that have “bedrock democratic principles”. I believe recruits to terrorism can be eliminated only with the carrot and stick policy - the carrot is *equal opportunity* and the stick is law-enforcement (both laws and personnel) involvement. India’s problem is not that it lacks a uniform civil code or that the Muslims follow Sharia, (the Hindus have their own laws and so do the Christians) it is equal opportunities for all citizens. If you happen to be born to well-educated parents, irrespective of caste or religion, there is a very high chance that you will end up very well educated. If you happen to be born in eastern UP, to poor parents, it will be a struggle to make a better life than your parents.

November 29, 2:06 am | [comment link]
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