Following is the text of a letter that was initially written by some of us and subsequently endorsed by the undersigned. This letter is a rejoinder to the article written by Chetan Bhagat titled, ‘Letter from an Indian Muslim Youth published in The Times of India on 30th of June, 2013. The letter was sent to The Times of India for publication with 166 signatures but we are yet to receive any response, or even an acknowledgment. Hence, we are left with no option but to make it public with additional signatures which we have received in the course of time. In the letter sent to The Times of India, we included only ‘Muslim names’ since Mr Bhagat, in his letter pretended to be an Indian Muslim Youth. However, here we are including all the endorsements we received because a large number of the emails read, ‘I am not a Muslim but I am equally disgusted by Chetan Bhagat’s letter’.
Given below is the text of letter followed by more than 200 signatures:
A Letter to Mr Chetan Bhagat from Indian Muslim Youth
3rd July, 2013
Dear Mr Bhagat,
At the very outset, let us make it clear that we are not fans of your regressive fiction. Therefore, we write to you not as crazy fans but as Indian Muslim youth, who felt utterly patronized, insulted and hurt after reading your article, ' Letter from an Indian Muslim Youth'. You might have not realized this, but in pretending to render “a strong modern Indian Muslim voice’’ to the youth and the Muslim community at large, you have ripped them of their agency. You have reaffirmed stereotypes that many in the community have been fighting against. Heard of the Muslim god and his flock?
Sir, one does not need a name like Ahmed or Saeed or Mirza, or even be a Muslim to show one’s genuine concern for the community. One just needs to see beyond one’s own prejudice and biases. Believe us, this disgusting piece of your writing made us more nauseous than any of your (or Madhu Kishwar’s) love-verses to Modi. Your article is nothing but an extension of the thought process that anything Muslim is backward and regressive. Since you have assigned to yourself the task of bearing the moral burden of the community, would you care to explain what a ‘Muslim cap’ is?
We agree with you when you say political leaders make promises that go empty post elections. And that there are Muslims who have achieved much without any ‘’cap-wearing politician’’ helping them. But who is this leader that you are suggesting; one who would understand ‘’the desire’’ of the Muslim youth ‘’to come up in life’’ and ‘’inspire us to do better’’? Is it by any chance the mass murderer, Narendra Modi?
You know what hurts? That people pretend to care for you when they don’t. When in fact they use you to grind their own axe. How cleverly you turn everything that the Muslim youth face today—“being frisked with greater attentiveness, denied renting an apartment”—into a product of the community’s inherent backwardness, as if it bears no relation to the increasing communalization of our polity and society.
What makes you think that the ‘cap’ wallahs exercise a great deal of influence within the community? Interestingly, one particular party has been lately seeking a lot of photo-ops with precisely these kinds of community leaders. Make no mistake Mr Writer. They don’t.
“Because of you”, you write castigating an imagined Muslim leadership, “people feel we vote in a herd.” Now, isn't that really clever, Mr Bhagat. People feel we vote in a herd because certain parties never tire of screaming hoarse about ‘minority appeasement’ and ‘vote banks’, even though, any psephologist or political scientist, or even an ordinary Muslim youth at chai dukaan will tell you that Muslims vote just like any other community does: according to a mix of factors: local, national but above all, keeping in mind who will preserve their interests best. And their interests do tend to include the safety of life and livelihood.
We are sorry, Mr Bhagat, but the "democratic republic" you talk of is not so democratic. If it were so, Afzal Guru wouldn’t have been executed to "satisfy the collective conscience of the nation". Muslim youth would not have fallen prey to minority witch-hunting, and their killers not decorated with gallantry awards. Adivasis in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa would not have been ripped of their fundamental rights to live with dignity. Dalit poets would not have been falsely charged under sedition laws.
Loving one’s nation is well and good, but being blinded by patriotism is not. Why do Indian Muslims always have to prove their allegiance to India? Why can’t they also be critical of their country?
The party whose path you are treading has had Indian Muslims pass through too many Sita-like ordeals of fire, Agni Pariksha. You may have the privilege to turn a blind eye to the post-Babri Masjid Demolition violence, the Gujarat pogrom, but many others don’t. How then do you think a leader who doesn’t even have the integrity to apologize for his complicity in the Gujarat pogrom represent Muslim youth’s aspirations for "scientific way of thinking, entrepreneurship, empowerment, progress" and above all, "personal freedoms"? And just by the way, have you heard of the word, ‘Justice’?
Name Profession City (State)
194. Clifton D' Rozario, Advocate, Banglore
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The facade of development, the promise of jobs and chance to earn a living is all hogwash.
Once in power, all the currently caged critters would be let loose on these very people.
Afterall, to parivar end justifies the means!
Anwar writes on Muslim websites - What he would like to become.
His posts on outlook - What he actually is.
>> Murtaza Haider, a Pakistani scholar, wrote a brilliant, insightful and honest analysis....
Miyan: I write the same stuff every day on Muslim websites!
Why are you partial to "Muslim" websites? Why do you write brain-dead, stupid, logic-defying, lies on the "Hindu" websites??
>> Murtaza Haider, a Pakistani scholar, wrote a brilliant, insightful and honest analysis....
I write the same stuff every day on Muslim websites!
>> Why should a best selling author like Chetan write on some obscure website....
When the screen goes blank
A New Delhi website on Islam that deals with issues of gender justice and propagating peace sees its pages blocked by Pakistan
A New Delhi-based website NewAgeIslam.com has alleged censorship after its several pages, including some with columns by Indian Muslims, were blocked in Pakistan. The site talks about modern interpretation of Islam and emphasises the need for rethinking and reviving the idea of ‘Ijtihad’ (debate and discussion) in every aspect of Muslim society.
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