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“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them (Muslims), then we will win and make India a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a group that espouses militant Hindu nationalism while addressing a 3-day conference. This is hate speech. This is intent to murder. This is an announcement of genocide. This is an ethnic cleansing declaration. Indian government’s reaction: complete silence. But silence is consent. Consent to mass murder. Consent to human decimation. Consent to crime. Consent to violence. Consent to inhumanity. Hate based on fake imagery provokes frenzy that makes logic redundant and lies truthful. In Modi’s India it is not just Muslims but Christians too that are suffering badly at the hands of Hindu extremists. The closing down of Mother Teresa charity just before Christmas on some lame pretext is another example of how the venomous hate machine works.

Lies have a pandemic virality. Truth stalls instantly. Hate sells fast. Love ever so slowly. Fake has a large audience. Authentic is limited. The effort required to establish true, principle centered communication, actions, acts is too difficult and too long for the majority to pursue. This is a world that demands “asap” results. This is a world that worships overnight success. This is a world that admires maximum with minimum. This is a world that does not have time. In this world talking about results that may not be visible, truth that shall eventually prevail, and success that may come hereafter is a sermon for the stupid.

In almost three generations we have witnessed the steady decline of our own culture, language, identity and values. The comparison with neighbouring countries and the West has really made us question our very being. All the leisure and pleasure is seen in the West where affluence and facilities have made life seem an easy sailing. All the development in India and Bangladesh has made our country seem down and out. This has created a fertile ground for the “reluctant Pakistani”. For the poor, the dream to somehow reach the Middle East, Europe or the USA is worth risking all their money and even life. For the rich the lavish holidays abroad and their next generation with Canadian or American passports is the way to barely own this country. But living abroad is also hazardous as the image of the country by birth or family follows you wherever you go. The major factors that have contributed to reinforcing a false image of Pakistan in particular, and Islam in general, are:

  1. No Narrative No Image— In a world that is increasingly build on created, constructed, crafted perception, the Muslim world has just not bothered to express and communicate their true identity. This void and vacuum has been filled by the world writing their own script and filling in their own damning colours. The main images are either Saudi Arabian medieval male and only male society, or the wild, crazy, terrorists operating from Syria to Pakistan. In contrast, however, the “free” living in the West and India represent a very attractive image to the minds of our own youth that are mostly living in very restricted reach and limited resources and opportunities.

  2. Exposing the Hate Narratives— The Modi/Trump hate brigade capitalized the pandemic- traumatized public. Upset, angry, hungry, isolated public vented out their frustrations by lashing out racially and discriminately. As economies tanked the anti-minorities voice hiked. But as it hiked it also cracked. Attack on the US Congress by Trump supporters and constant Muslim mob lynching and attacks on church in India have started giving space to truth too. The death threats to American universities that dared to have a seminar on Hindutva also ripped the façade of democracy in India. However, the Sialkot lynching incidence definitely deserved to be condemned, got a much longer and wider audience than many being carried out regularly in other countries. We as nation and as an Ummah have not been able to match the might of their propaganda machine.

  3. Lack of Leadership and Voice— The main reason is that a leadership voice representing the true spirit of Islam was missing. Some attempts have been made in the past but they did not really have an impact. It has been Prime Minister Imran Khan’s constant voice on all international forums like UNGA, OIC, regional meetings that has consistently tried to make the West understand that Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) represent love for all humanity.

President Putin’s statement that insulting the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is not freedom of expression is the result of a constant voice raised by the Prime Minister on the world stage. This needs to be leveraged by creating a mechanism that ensures that this message continues to reverberate and get more leaders to support this cause:

  1. Prime Minister Creating a Muslim Platform— The extraordinary OIC meeting on Afghanistan was a big success. A similar forum should be introduced to create Interfaith understanding where heads of main countries of various nations participate and develop a communique for mutual respect on sensitive matters like religion, etc.

  2. Fighting a Case on Legal Grounds— The European Court of Human Rights has already in 2018 declared that insulting the Prophet (PBUH) was not covered in freedom of expression. Taking this legal judgement as a base other courts should be approached. Similar to the anti-Semitic laws anti-Islamophobia laws need to be introduced to make sure equality of legality too.

  3. Developing A Virtual Series on the True message and spirit— It was interesting to see that a virtual video was developed that transported you to those times recreating the atmosphere and explaining the message of love, peace and humanity of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Such innovative IT-based messages are required to remove misperceptions and inculcate the real image, and reality of Islam.

While hate and lies may be easier to spread, truth is deeper and more enduring. Extremists in any country be it the USA, India, or Pakistan will exploit the mental disturbance of unlit minds to incite violence. This normally creates an aversion to religion in the more enlightened minds. But it is not just preaching and showing the brighter side of a religion or culture that will create the paradigm shift. Real perception will change by living the values. It is the values of unconditional love, compassion for all, mercy whole heartedly, that will truly engage, inspire and make the voice of truth triumph over the clamour of lies and hate.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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