A high school teacher in Paris, France, was beheaded by an Islamic fanatic for allegedly showing cartoons of prophet Mohammed to his students. The murder of the 47-yar old was carried out amidst familiar cries of “Allahu Akbar”. Since then, French President Emmanuel Macron has described the incident as a terrorist attack.
The terrorist has been identified as one 18-year-old Muslim youth, allegedly belonging to Chechnya, Russia. The murder comes only days after a stabbing spree at the French national capital that left multiple individuals injured. The knife attack, too, was carried out by Islamic fundamentalists. It is a grim reminder of the toll that Islamic extremism continues to wreak across the world.
The response to the attack, however, demonstrated an interesting pattern that has emerged over the years. Liberals in India wasted no time in condemning the attack although it did come with the usual qualifiers that sought to disassociate Islam from terrorism. Problematic characters such as Arfa Khanum Sherwani of The Wire were quick to call it an ‘act of terror’ and called the culprit a ‘terrorist’.
Paris beheading is an act of terror and the culprit a terrorist.— Arfa Khanum Sherwani (@khanumarfa) October 17, 2020
There’s no other way to describe this heinous crime.
The attacker has no right to call himself a Muslim.
Islam means peace.
Shehla Rashid offered a condemnation of the brutal crime as well.
While ordinary Muslims strive to contribute positively to the world, a lone wolf extremist has brought shame to us yet again. No cartoon can damage the personna of the great Prophet of Islam (SAW). But these acts of terrorism bring shame to the entire community. #ParisBeheading— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) October 17, 2020
What stands out is not the condemnation here as normal people are expected to be horrified by such barbaric beheadings but it is the reaction of the same people to similar crimes in India that is worthy of attention. One ought to recall the reaction of liberals to the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari for allegedly committing blasphemy against Islam. Such unequivocal condemnation was hardly to be found.
Instead, we had liberal intellectuals sermonising that it was time for the Muslim community to organise themselves and not for the objective of peace. Imagine the depravity of it for a moment. A Hindu man was murdered for exercising his right to freedom of expression and liberal intellectuals in the aftermath of it were egging Muslims to organise themselves to commit more violence. The reaction that we see now is a stark departure from the ones we witnessed following the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari.
There are reasons for such a startling contrast in the response to the Paris beheading and the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari. First and foremost is the fact that Paris is in Europe and liberal intellectuals must adhere to European norms and conventions since the West is the fountainhead of liberalism and the ideology is sustained by the money that flows from there.
Therefore, liberals cannot respond in a manner that would make them unpopular in the West as that would jeopardise their career prospects. And the norms there are such that even after the collapse of a great deal of decency, liberals still have to offer an unequivocal condemnation of beheadings. Hence, liberals have to adhere to them.
Secondly, the victims of such incidents in the West invariably tend to belong to the White race. As it so happens, liberal intellectuals in India are enamoured by their skin colour and do feel the pain when someone pricks the skin of their western counterparts. We do see it in India all the time. Unless and until a phenomenon has the explicit endorsement of a White intellectual, Indian liberals will not take it seriously. They desperately seek their approval all the time.
Thus, Indian liberals do have to participate in ‘Pray for Paris’, ‘Pray for Orlando’ and other such prayer campaigns without any qualifiers. The same decency does not need to be afforded to a rustic Indian man such as Kamlesh Tiwari. He was, after all, a Hindi-speaking unsophisticated Hindu man from a small city in the Hindi belt. He was not an English-speaking wine-sipping cigar-smoking intellectual. Therefore, the atrocity he suffered can be whitewashed, buried and silenced.
The hearts of our liberals are so large that they fail to notice the atrocities committed against such small men from small cities. They may claim all men are equal but, quite obviously, some are more so than others. Consequently, when Kamlesh Tiwari was murdered, liberals were more concerned with screeching about ‘Hindu fascism‘ and intolerance than the atrocity that had just been committed.
But the most important aspect here is the fact that Indian liberalism is sustained by money from the West. It is evident from the extent to which foreign funded NGOs, that receive donations primarily from the West, dictate public discourse in our country. Since money dictates most actions of opportunists, it is only natural that they observe the norms set by their masters. And hence, we witness responses to similar incidents that are polar opposites.