Monday, December 03, 2007

Mullah raj in Marxist Bengal

Surrendering to thugocracy
Kanchan Gupta

In recent days there have been two riots in two cities in two countries with two starkly dissimilar responses. Muslim mobs ran riot in Kolkata on November 21, ostensibly to protest against Marxist violence in the villages of Nandigram in which their co-religionists were targeted. But the thugs who swarmed the streets of central Kolkata, armed with swords, Molotov cocktails and assorted weapons, had an insidious agenda: To drive dissident Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen out of the city. The 'progressive', 'democratic', 'liberal' and so-called people's Government of West Bengal, headed by a charlatan and dominated by the CPI(M), used the fig leaf of 'Muslim discontent' to force Ms Nasreen to leave Kolkata, choosing to mollycoddle radical Islamists rather than stand up to their outrageous hooliganism in the hope that Muslims will make common cause with Marxists when elections are held.
Twenty-one years ago the CPI(M) had accused Rajiv Gandhi of abjectly surrendering to fundamentalists and using the Congress's brute majority in Parliament to subvert the Supreme Court's landmark judgement in the Shah Bano case by pushing through a particularly obnoxious law known as Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, stripping indigent women thrown out of their marital home the right to justice guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Today, the CPI(M) stands accused of pandering to bigotry that recalls the violent demonstrations following the Supreme Court's judgement favouring Shah Bano.
The other riot took place in Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, part of the infamous banlieues where Muslim immigrants, most of them illegal residents, from northern Africa live in appalling ghettos and seek inspiration from fire-breathing mullahs. This time the rioting was far worse than that of November 2005: Not only were cars set on fire, policemen were attacked by young men armed with guns. This was a first of its kind, prompting otherwise politically correct news agencies to report that the police were locked in a combat with "urban guerrillas".
The banlieues have been in ferment ever since President Nicolas Sarkozy, after winning this summer's election, set a target for authorities to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants, irrespective of their nationality or religion, by the end of the year. In 2005, Mr Sarkozy, as Minister for Interior Affairs, had taken a tough line and cracked down on the rioters with an iron fist. He has scoffed at lib-left criticism that his policy "threatens values in a nation that prides itself on being a cradle of human rights and a land of asylum". We get to hear a similar refrain every time an attempt is made to identify illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in our country. But while our Government promptly retreats (the BJP was no better than the Congress during the years it was in power at the Centre) in the face of hostility, Mr Sarkozy's Government has refused to budge from its stated policy. "I want numbers," Mr Sarkozy has been quoted by the BBC as telling Mr Brice Hortefeux, head of the Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development, which he set up after taking office in May. "This is a campaign commitment. The French expect (action) on this." Compare this resolve with our political parties dumping their campaign commitments in the nearest dustbin after winning an election, substituting them with crass populism.
If Mr Sarkozy had nothing but contempt for the rioters in 2005, this time he has been scathing in his indictment of those who took to the streets. While giving a pep talk to policemen in Paris, he brushed aside pseudo-sociological bunkum and bogus multi-culturalism. "What happened in Villiers-le-Bel has nothing to do with a social crisis. It has everything to do with a thugocracy," Mr Sarkozy said. In 2005, Mr Sarkozy had described the rioters as "racaille", or scum. "I reject any form of other-worldly naivety that wants to see a victim of society in anyone who breaks the law, a social problem in any riot," he said, adding, "The response to the riots isn't yet more money on the backs of the taxpayers. The response to the riots is to arrest the rioters."
Would our politicians, especially those in power, ever dare be even remotely as tough as Mr Sarkozy? That's a silly question. Because in this great 'democracy' of ours, violence is the language of negotiation for those who reject the supremacy of the Constitution of India and Government, denuded of authority, believes toeing the line of least resistance is the best policy. Hence, even before push comes to shove, Government crumbles in the most shameful manner.
But we are not alone in witnessing the state turn into a jellybean when confronted by radical Islamism and its attendant perversities. Look at the timid response of the British Government to the plight of one of its citizens, Ms Gillian Gibbons, who has been jailed for 'blasphemy' in Sudan. Her crime: She had asked children in her class to find a name for their teddy bear and they came up with 'Mohammed' because they had been taught by their parents that it was the "most loved name" and they loved their teddy, too. The parents screamed murder and soon Ms Gibbons was in the custody of the upholders of shari'ah.
Everybody, including Sudan's envoy to the Queen's court, agreed that it was a silly accusation, that Ms Gibbons was at best guilty of letting innocent children have their way, and that no great harm had been done. To prove that trials in Khartoum's shari'ah court are fair, Ms Gibbons was sentenced to 15 days in prison, instead of being whipped in a public square or sentenced to death.
On Friday, a leading cleric, Sheikh Abdul Jalil Karuri, gave a fiery sermon during noon prayers at Khartoum's Martyr's Mosque, accusing Ms Gibbons of "deliberately naming her class's teddy bear Mohammed with the intention of insulting Islam". Soon, thousands of people, waving swords, were marching through Khartoum, demanding Ms Gibbons be shot. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson has lamented Britain's limp response: "There was a time when Britain would have sent a gunboat to rescue her. There was a time when MPs would have been holding furious debates on the matter, and bandying phrases such as 'civis Britannicus sum'. In the old days there would have been a démarche from Britain to Sudan, warning that His Majesty's Government would not suffer a hair on her head to be disturbed."
At least Johnson has the comfort of history. We don't even have that.

December 2, 2007.

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