India has been pushed into the throws of chaos after a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat. As per conservative estimates, the congregation organised by Tablighi Jamaat was attended by 1500 people, both from various parts of the country as well as from abroad. 10 people who attended the congregation had died of COVID-19. Despite overt symptoms of coronavirus, the rabid Islamists of Tablighi Jamaat have shown a recalcitrant attitude to cooperate with the authorities and a malevolent desire to infect those who are helping them fight the contagion.
It is estimated that over 9000 people who have come in contact with the Tablighi Jamaat members are being traced and placed into quarantine. While India tried to tame the beast unleashed by Tablighi, one cluster that was quarantined in Ghaziabad indulged in shameful, lewd behaviour towards the women staff. They roamed around without pants, naked, made lewd gestures and comments and demanded that they are given cigarettes.
As soon as the news emerged, the usual apologists for Islamists came out of the woodwork trying to defend the Jamaatis. One of them doing everything he possibly can to prove that the members of the Tablighi Jamaat were innocent, was Wall Street Journal (WSJ) columnist Sadanand Dhume.
Responding to The Wire journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani, who was also shielding Tablighi Jamaat by casting aspersions on the nurses who were subjected to humiliation by the Jamaatis, the WSJ columnist Sadanand Dhume said that he was “no fan” of the beliefs of Tablighi Jamaat but anyone who had spent time with them knew that their conservativism extends to “extreme propriety around women”.
You are right. I’m no fan of their beliefs either, but anyone who has spent any time with Tablighis knows that their conservatism extends to extreme propriety around women. Stories about their lewdness ring false. And attempts to tar Muslims in general are beyond despicable.— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) April 3, 2020
Sadhananad Dhume did not just stop there. He then said, “Stories about their lewdness ring false. And attempts to tar Muslims, in general, are beyond despicable”.
Essentially, Dhume was saying that firstly, deeply religious Muslim men cannot be molesters or rapists and secondly, that the nurses who had complained about the Tablighi Jamaat members misbehaving with them were lying because they wished to tarnish the image of Muslims.
The WSJ columnist, Sadanand Dhume, essentially was more than willing to believe the outward appearance of virtue by the members of the Tablighi Jamaat, however, in order to shield them, he disbelieved and discarded a written complaint by the nurses where they had elucidated how the members of the Jamaat harassed them by making lewd comments and gestures while roaming around without pants.
His misplaced defence of the barbarians did not go down well with several people who called him out for being an apologist not just for radical Islam but also crimes against women.
Based on handful of experiences (not sure what sort ), even caregivers who are risking their lives are being tarnished for cheap secular brownie points.— Pratyasha Rath (@pratyasharath) April 3, 2020
So the picture of state complicity in denying adequate care to minorities can be painted. So that more people beat up doctors!
Pratyasha Rath, a Twitter user, said that Dhume was indulging in shameful victim-blaming. Making a pertinent point, Rath said that Dhume is victim-blaming based on his supposed experience with a handful of individuals and owing to that experience, he is negating what the victim is saying about her ordeal.
Another Twitter user, Risha, said, “This mindset is the sole reason why we see many cases of people being raped by these godmen. Yes, they all act holier than thou about their sexuality in the public space, then blackmail their victims saying “who will believe you””.
This mindset is the sole reason why we see many cases of people being raped by these godmen. Yes, they all act holier than thou about their sexuality in the public space, then blackmail their victims saying “who will believe you”.@dhume will not, WE WILL.https://t.co/TvqKsJxKju— Risha (@devrisha) April 3, 2020
Interestingly, this observation by Risha is extremely pertinent since Dhume had spoken about this very mindset during the MeToo movement. Though not in relation to godmen, Dhume had spoken about how powerful men get away with mistreating women because the women were scared, the men had the power and eventually, the women did not speak up because they feared their allegations against the powerful men would not be believed. While speaking in these terms during the MeToo movement, Dhume is now perpetuating the same mindset, this time, to shield radical Islamists of the Tablighi Jamaat.
Not just once, Dhume continued to peddle the same narrative even when confronted with how ridiculous his assertions were.
I can say this: In my handful of encounters with Tablighis I have found them deeply conservative on matters like clothing and mixing of genders. Easy to see them ignoring medical advice. Not so easy to imagine them flashing unrelated women though, of course, anything is possible.— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) April 3, 2020
Interestingly, what Dhume is essentially saying that because he met a few people from the Tablighi Jamaat who he thought were “pious”, nobody from the Tablighi Jamaat could molest women and thus, the women must be lying.
In fact, a case from 2011 itself proves how shallow Dhume’s knowledge truly is. In 2011, an Imam was charged under 13 counts for sexual assault in Toronto. Mohammad Masroor, 48, worked as a travelling imam and visited numerous countries teaching children and young people Koranic studies. In their investigation, police have found Mr. Masroor to be in possession of three passports than bear names other than his own. The 13 charges against Mr. Masroor stem from alleged abuses committed against five former students. Because the imam travelled so extensively, Det. Const. Karen Armstrong said she worried there are more victims are out there, if not in Canada. The Imam was reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic movement aimed at proselytizing at the grassroots level. The movement is largely based in Bangladesh now.
There have in fact been so many cases of Imams and Maulvis raping and sexually assaulting minors that a thesis can, and perhaps should be written on why Islamic godmen indulge in crimes against women and minor boys rather rampantly. However, in order to shield the members of Tablighi Jamaat, closing one’s eyes to the truth seem to be imperative.
According to The Wire editor Arfa Khanum Sherwani and the WSJ columnist Sadanand Dhume, everyone is lying and even the victim nurses are engaging in propaganda but Tablighi Jamaat alone is the epitome of virtue. The people being supported and whose integrity they are vouching for are the same ones who have been spitting on doctors and others working with them in their efforts to get them infected with the Wuhan Coronavirus, and also attacking policemen and healthcare workers who are looking for people who had attended the Jamaat to screen them.