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Feb 21, 2006 10:06 pm


INDIA AND THE CARTOONS



India is the country with the second largest Muslim community. Yet, there were no significant riots there because it is democratic, argues an Egyptian analyst. An Indian observer is less sanguine because the demonstrations were not really about Denmark or the cartoons:

Meanwhile, the protests in India have had a character of their own. Though a paper in Patna reprinted the cartoons and faced protests in early February, there was little activity till February 6 when there was a general strike in Srinagar. On the same day, the first significant, though small, demonstration was held in New Delhi by some students of Jamia Millia.

Then on February 17, a Friday when Muslims traditionally gather in mosques to offer the noon namaz, violent protests took place in Hyderabad, organised by the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, an organisation known for its communal politics. On the same day, in Meerut, Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, a Samajwadi Party leader and minister in the UP cabinet offered Rs 51 crore for the killing of the Danish cartoonist. Local reports in Hyderabad and Meerut suggest that the events there were staged by the politicians to consolidate their hold over their constituents. But the violent protest that rocked Lucknow on February 19 had a different character in that it featured attacks on a Café Coffee Day outlet, a Pizza Hut and a five-star hotel. This could have been dismissed as sheer vandalism, but for the fact that leaders like Kalbe Jawwad who spoke at the meeting called for a boycott of Coke, Pepsi, all multinationals and attacked the US and the entire Western world, instead of Denmark. Considering that the hotel and the coffee outlet are both Indian-owned and with no foreign links, this protest seems to be more against a certain lifestyle, rather than cartoons, or even the US.

In other words, the Islamists are against WHO we are, not WHAT we do!




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