The correctness of the bishop’s statement on narcotic jihad must be determined by empirical evidence, not by the opinion makers’ beliefs and sentiments.
A Kerala bishop’s charge last month of a “narcotic jihad” has rattled the liberal establishment. Top intellectuals are slamming him with a vehemence which they seldom subject Islamists to. The fulminations are replete with one of the most misleading terms ever coined—Islamophobia.
Dictionary.com describes “phobia” as “an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, situation, or person that manifests in physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath, and that motivates avoidance behavior.” Therefore, Islamophobia means an intense, persistent, irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. But is it so?
From Bali to Boston, most of the terror acts are carried out by the Wahabis among Muslims. While it is true that the vast majority of Muslims are not violent, it is indisputable that jihadists enjoy considerable support from the Wahabi element. This is not seen by some as different from the support that the few violent saffron cowboys enjoy in sections of Hindu society. It is another matter Hindutva hotheads haven’t become as violent in India, and in the world.
However, if saffron activists become as dangerous as Al Qaeda or the Taliban are, the rest of the world will have started fearing and disliking Hindus. In that unfortunate eventuality, even some liberals and Leftists would start slamming such fear and loathing as “Hinduphobia”. For liberals and Leftists have a penchant for, indeed a tryst with, some doctrines: they sympathized with communism when the Soviet Union existed; now they end up supporting Wahhabism by screaming Islamophobia 25 hours a day; some may even cry Hinduphobia if saffron becomes more violent.
Coming back to the issue of narcotic jihad, intellectuals are dismissing the bishop’s claim just because it is at variance with their doggedly held beliefs. Perhaps, he is wrong in mentioning a menace that does not exist, or exaggerating it if it does, in the southern state. The correctness of his statement, however, must be determined by empirical evidence, not by the opinion makers’ beliefs and sentiments.
Intellectuals were similarly dismissive about the reality of “love jihad”. Now a marriage between a Muslim man and a non-Muslim woman is not a case of love jihad if there is no deception involved in religious matters. Sangeeta Bijlani married Mohammed Azharuddin and also embraced Islam. This was surely not love jihad.
But there have been cases where men have deceived women of a different faith by not disclosing their identities or married them because of ulterior motives. Some of them reportedly had terror links.
Even communists have accepted the reality of love jihad. “The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) has accepted the charges of ‘love jihad’ in Kerala. The CPM top leader has warned of deliberate efforts by communal forces to lure college girls into terrorist activities, in a note circulated among its cadre,” thequint.com reported last month.
By the way, this is not the first time a senior CPM leader has accepted the existence of love jihad. In 2010, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, a Marxist luminary, accepted it.
Needless to say, the Bharatiya Janata Party views the latest CPM note with a feeling of déjà vu. BJP state president K. Surendran said, “The CPM leaflet on minority and terrorism attests what the BJP has been saying for at least a decade. Young women have been trapped in love jihad and used for extremism. Why is the CPM not ready to openly admit that, at least now? When Pala Bishop spoke about it too, the CPM denied it. It shows the party’s double standards.”
Narcotic jihad and love jihad underline a depressing fact: political debate in India is not informed with facts but perverted with sentiments and dogmas. Anybody challenging the ruling dogmas is viciously maligned.
Unsurprisingly, Killarangatt has been slammed by many in the mainstream media. But he has not buckled under pressure; on Gandhi Jayanti, he reiterated the love and narcotic jihad remarks.
Public intellectuals need to recognise the fact that narcotic jihad does exist, in Afghanistan and other areas if not in Kerala. A 2018 UN report said Afghanistan’s “opiate economy is worth between 6 and 11 per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP and it exceeded the value of the country’s officially recorded licit exports of goods and services.”
With the Taliban entrenched in the war-torn nation, narcotic jihad has received a huge fillip. It is time intellectuals realized that downplaying the threat by littering public discourse with overplaying concepts like Islamophobia will only help jihadists.
Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a freelance journalist.