Wednesday, August 4, 2021
HomeOpinionsFight against Islamism must become institutionalized like that against racism or sexism

Fight against Islamism must become institutionalized like that against racism or sexism

The UP DGP who made those remarks is in an august company: he is neither the first nor the highest-ranking official to somehow try and take the blame away from Islamism.

Can you spot what is wrong with this statement from the DGP of Uttar Pradesh? Oh, so the killers of Kamlesh Tiwari appear to have become “radicalized” by the words of Kamlesh Tiwari himself! In other words, UP DGP subtly (or not so subtly) putting the blame on Kamlesh Tiwari for his own murder.

Ever since Kamlesh Tiwari made those remarks, his life would always have been in danger. The first question is why there was no security provided for him. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath should answer that question.

Read: UP DGP’s press conference: Confirms Gujarat ATS arrests, says suspects were radicalised and planned Kamlesh Tiwari’s murder

The second question is why Islamists think India is a soft state where they can get away with anything. Perhaps this is why:

Why were all of these four people not in jail already? What message does that send out to violent Islamists, if not that the Indian state will bend over backwards to tolerate their tantrums? Why did the UP DGP not answer these questions while doing a press conference on Kamlesh Tiwari murder?

Again, there is no sugarcoating this: I checked and found that all 4 Islamists mentioned here are either based in states currently ruled by BJP or held by BJP in recent past. So there is no passing the buck.

In any case, passing the buck to ‘secular parties’ and ‘liberals’ in general is merely an emotional crutch anyway. And I am guilty of using this crutch just as much as anyone else, maybe even more. How does it even matter who is ruling the state? This is a simple administrative issue of basic law and order : somebody makes a direct incitement of violence…that somebody should go to jail.

The UP DGP who made those foolish remarks after the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari is in august company: he is neither the first nor the highest ranking official to somehow try and take the blame away from Islamism.

UP DGP should peerhaps exaplin how is it that members of a ‘religion of peace’ get so easily radicalized as they supposedly got in Kamlesh Tiwari case? Ironically, the expression ‘religion of peace’ appears to have been first used famously by George Bush himself, while visiting a mosque less than a week after the 9/11 attacks. Here it is, straight from the White House archives.


We Hindus of India have been facing aggression and oppression from Islamists for one thousand years. It was only after the 9/11 attacks that the world realized the seriousness of the Islamist threat. Now, 18 long years have passed since those attacks. And every kind of euphemism in order to avoid plain talk about Islamism. This year on Sep 11, the New York Times even edited out all mention of the terrorists themselves, choosing to blame the airplanes instead for “taking aim” at the World Trade Center!

They tried every kind of language trick, edited history, rewrote books. The media even whitewashed the narration of current events in real time, in a style that Orwell would have called “Reality Control.” But it’s a losing game. The reality of Islamism is for all to see. A better Facebook or Twitter algorithm to remove “Islamophobic” posts does not help one bit.

I have been saying this for a while. One has to zero in on the attitudes that underlie violence by Islamists. Hatred for “non-believers,” “idol-worshipers,” so called “apostates” and so on. This kind of hate must be stigmatized in the same way as racism, sexism and homophobia have been stigmatized in the modern world. From school textbooks to television to community awareness programs, we have to teach people that such hate isn’t acceptable. A word such as “k*f*r” should be socially “banned” just like the “N-word” in the United States.

Read: Legacy of Kamlesh Tiwari: Regardless of motivations behind his murder, those who shielded Islamism and shunned him should be ashamed

In other words, the fight against Islamism has to become more than just a law and order or national security issue. We often hear that only a very tiny fraction of people in Muslim communities have ever carried out an act of terrorism. Which of course is true. But this misses the point completely. Only a very tiny fraction of white people in the American South would have participated in an actual lynching. These people were just the tip of an iceberg of institutionalized racism.

The same goes for Islamism today. We need to set up institutionalized mechanisms to study the spread of Islamism and how to tackle it. The kind of complex that exists to tackle racism, sexism, homophobia or anti-Semitism. An effort at all levels : from establishing the study of Islamism as an academic discipline to community organizations dedicated to fighting Islamism. Like diversity goals in the context of racial or gender inclusion, we need corporate and government structures that focus on removing Islamist attitudes. One concrete way would be to order that  Muslim institutions must meet fixed quotas on representation of non-Muslims in order to be eligible to apply for state funding. And yes, these institutions must also meet certain quotas on representation of Muslim women and “lower caste” Muslims (yes, they exist and their voice is among the least heard in the country).

The long struggle of humanity against evils such as racism can give us many other ideas. For instance, in 1965, the US passed the Voting Rights Act, which gave the Federal Government special powers to act in certain high risk areas for racial injustice. We could adopt a similar model in India in the struggle against Islamism.

Or, we could take lessons from France and order the closing of places that preach hate. Here’s the French Ministry of the Interior tweeting to inform the public that 20 such places have been shut down.


The French Government calls it the “Fight against radicalization.”

The exact details of what needs to be done in the Indian context need to be worked out. But the key is that Islamism should be seen as an issue that is bigger than law and order or national security. It is a deep rooted social problem and the onus is on the Indian state to fight this protracted battle.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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