New Internationalist

Mumbai: bomb blasts again

They’ve done it again. Three bomb blasts killed 21 ordinary civilians in Mumbai and injured more than a hundred during the rush hour on Wednesday. Only cowards of the worst kind unleash unprovoked violence on innocent people – women, children, old people, men who have never harmed a soul in their lives.   

Why don’t these inhuman monsters understand that they cause incalculable harm  to their own people? They unleash a never-ending cycle of anger, hatred and revenge, which is causing untold misery to the millions of Muslims around the world, while they cry jihad and terrorize ordinary, harmless, poor people. 

I understand the anger of the jihadist, the Tamil Tiger, the Kashmiri separatist, the committed Naxalite. But why don’t they exact revenge on the men who killed Muslims, Sri Lankan Tamils, Kashmiri children both Hindu and Muslim, or hapless adivasis?

Everyone knows who these people are. But the murderers of innocent Iraqi civilians, Sri Lankan Tamils or Muslims in Gujarat are protected by armed guards. It would be truly brave to assassinate those men. If the terrorists had guts, they would target presidents, prime ministers, politicians and generals who unleash the dogs of war unjustly. It is total cowardice to kill innocent men, women and children in the name of revenge.  

I vividly remember an old Muslim woman in Gujarat. Mad with grief – her only child, a beloved son, had been killed in the pogrom in 2002 – she screamed, ‘The Hindu men who killed our people told us to go back to Pakistan. I have never left my village in Gujarat. I have never even been to the big city [Ahmedabad]. What do I know of Pakistan. Tell Advani [India’sDeputy Prime Minister, in 2002, Hindutva Nationalist party leader] to go there. He was born there. Leave us alone.’

These are the kind of people who are victims of bomb blasts and revenge pogroms. Ordinary folk with no evil inclinations or malice in them towards anyone. But they pay for the sins of the venal politicians who order their generals to make war on civilians, and to rape and kill ordinary people. How can this be justice and how can ANY terrorist group, whether it’s Al Qaeda or the LTTE, imagine any God, Muslim, Christian or Hindu, can condone the murder of innocents?

In India, animosity between Muslims and Hindus goes back centuries, the legacy of Muslim invasions hundreds of years ago. But, they coexisted. Periodically, fights broke out. At the time of Independence there was violence, hatred and a terrible carnage of an unimaginable scale. But despite that, India survived. There are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan or any Muslim country except Indonesia, a fact not widely known. Yet they survived. Co-existed, not in perfect harmony, but neither with serious enmity.

9/11 changed the world. And changed the world most horrendously for Muslims, especially in the West. In India, the Bombay blasts changed life for Muslims as nothing had ever before. Pre-9/11,  Muslims were perceived as different, often clannish. But so were Christians, Parsis, Jews,  Anglo-Indians, Armenians – all the minorities had their little ghettos, though they socialized superficially and broadly with each other.

This was normal, not strange. The scenario has changed slowly, but perceptibly since the Bombay blasts. Life has become far more difficult for the average Muslim. Muslim terrorists have done this to their own people. Made them the enemy in their own country. Many progressive Muslims are being engulfed by a wave of fundamentalism.

There is little choice. A young Muslim friend sadly explained: ‘I grew up with friends from all communities, Hindus, Christians, Parsis and Muslims. Now you hear the conversation stop when you enter a room. My brothers who were like me have started moving more and more towards Muslim groups. There’s safety in numbers. Also we get threats from fundamentalists if we don’t go to the mosque on Friday and if we avoid wearing a burka. Girls whose mothers and grandmothers didn’t wear burka are forced to conform because of the fundamentalists.’

Even as I write this, I am overwhelmed by a sense of futility. After all, my blog is not read by terrorists or fundamentalists. But I wish this message could go out to them: ‘You are cowards if you kill ordinary, innocent people. And you are the worst enemies of your own people.’

Can Al Jazeera please send this message out?

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  1. #1 Indian 16 Jul 11

    The author is completely out of facts. Bomb blasts in mumbai happened by Muslim Extremists and they have to be condemned in all possible places. Mumbai police is on lookout for them and it will help everyone to judge the actions of the extremists. These are real cold blooded murderers and having sympathy from people like this author.

    ’ But the murderers of innocent Iraqi civilians, Sri Lankan Tamils or Muslims in Gujarat are protected by armed guar’ is no where related with the bomb blasts. I hope this kind of fact less articles get screened and validated before publishing.

    Also seems like the author is not based out of India or did not get the facts right.

  2. #2 mari 17 Jul 11

    Indian - you seem to have completely misunderstood this blog. I am saying that all terrorist are cowards and should be strongly condemned. I am also saying that we should not stereotype all muslims, based on the actions of a few extremist fundamentalists. I have written a lot on the Gujarat violence, and the injustice of all the murderers and rapists going scot free. This blog is to condemn ALL terrorists. I lived in Mumbai for 8 years. My heart goes out to th victims. And the people of Mumbai are superb - resilient, strong and refusing to be cowed.

  3. #3 Victoria 17 Jul 11

    Thank you from sharing this. I am a girl from the west. And I want to thank you for sharing, for this kind of things does not come to us in the news. Yes, we hear of terrorism of course, but I strongly suspect that it is not everything which comes through. Therefore I read blogs like this.

    I will pray for you, and for peace in your country!

  4. #4 Pravin Mahajan 23 Jul 11

    What an awful piece from you Mari. What do you mean when you say ’It would be truly brave to assassinate those men. If the terrorists had guts, they would target presidents, prime ministers, politicians and generals who unleash the dogs of war unjustly.... ’ So persons who killed Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, so on and so forth had ’guts’???
    Are you trying to say that the human rights can be violated if a person has violated other's human rights, you are sounding justifying violance against certain sections. I cant imagine! Hope I have not understood what you have said in the article.

  5. #5 mari 25 Jul 11

    Pravin
    I appreciate yr comments. They are astute. Of course I didnt think Indira Gandhi, Rajiv or Gandhiji deserved to die. I meant that the cowards who kill innocent people who are totally unnconnected to injustice shd have the guts to fight people who deserve to be fought. That is politicians who start unjust wars for money, oil, power or who create situations where innocent people die. Now everyone knows who those people are.

  6. #6 mari 25 Jul 11

    Pravin
    Thanks for yr comments. They are astute. Of course I dont think it was brave to kill Indira, Rajiv or Gandhiji. But I thibnk the cowards who kill innocent people who have no link with the supposed motives behind blasts wd exhibit some guts if they chose as targets people who start wars for power, oil or money, or incite mobs to kill innocent people. I dont advocate violence of any kind..I am merely looking at the supposed rationale that terrorists use when they claim justification for those attacks. Wd they have the guts to attack people who are protected by armed guards? the powerful politicians etc. they target vulnerable people. thats despicable

  7. #7 mari 25 Jul 11

    Thanks Victoria

    I think everyone can do with prayers at this point..

    really kind of you

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About the author

Mari Marcel Thekaekara a New Internationalist contributor

Mari is a writer based in Gudalur, in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. She writes on human rights issues with a focus on dalits, adivasis, women, children, the environment, and poverty. Mari's book Endless Filth, published in 1999, on balmikis, is to be followed by a second book on campaigns within India to abolish manual scavenging work. She co-founded Accord in 1985 to work with Adivasi people. Mari has been a contributor to New Internationalist since 1991.

About the blog I travel around India a lot, covering dalit and adivasi issues. I often find myself really moved by stories that never make it to the mainstream media. My son Tarsh suggested I start blogging. And the New Internationalist collective are the nicest bunch of editors I’ve worked with. So here goes.

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