Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Obama in India: A Dip into the Latest River of "Sacred" Terrorism

President Obama's first trip to India has just concluded and comes at a time when the sub-continent's relations with Pakistan for once must take a backseat to the terrorism striking the latter country in its mosques. That the Taliban and its Pakistani sympathizers are behind most of these attacks is no news, but the pattern has taken a disturbing turn that Obama and Prime Minister Singh would do well to recognize for what it is. First of all, what it is not: a mere knee-jerk to the official Pakistani government support of the U.S.-led War on Terrorism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. No, it is more, and India's tolerance is itself the source of it.

To get at the core of my thesis in this blog, let's begin with another strange occurrence, this one concerning the many Western (particularly U.S.-born) Muslim converts who are being apprehended either planning attacks in Pakistan or the West, most of the time after having undergone training by the Taliban or one of the many AL-Qaeda operatives in the Middle East or Pakistan. They have one thing in common: suicide and a desire to take as many non-believers as they can with them. They also learn to dress, talk, and act like their Muslim-born trainers and openly repudiate their countries of origin. What they seem to want to do is BECOME genuine Muslims and they know that their not having been born into the culture means that the authenticity of their conversions will be forever in question unless they die for their faith. No one can deny that religion as the espousal of certain tenets or dogmas is just part of the Muslim and Hindu religions and that birthrights are an important part of the identity of each. In short, ethnicity is tied to the religious identity of both of these faiths, with one important exception and that brings me to the logical outcome of my argument.

Hinduism, for all of its claims of tolerance and plurality, neither proselytizes nor generally accepts converts. To be Indian or of Indian origin is such an obvious feature of practitioners of the Hindu faith that Western practitioners of meditation and yoga notwithstanding, it is a simply taken as a fact by most outsiders. In addition, since India's Muslim population is the highest on the planet (right after Indonesia), the tacit understanding that Hindus do no attempt to convert others is extremely important to the peaceful relation of both groups of Indians and also to their neighbors in Pakistan. However, India's tolerance has come to roost in its own backyard by its allowing numerous large and ornate temples operated and owned by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness ("ISKCON"), a Bhakti-Yoga inspired cult, to push the conversion of non-Indians to Hinduism. Westerners of all complexions operate and populate these temples, a fact that has not been lost on Muslims aware of their existence both in India and Pakistan. Terrorists have already bombed a Hare Krishna temple in Chittagong, Bangladesh back in 2009 and a local Indian militant with alleged support from Pakistan, planned to attack an ISKCON temple in Bangalore in 2008 (among other sites) but could not carry out his plan for lack of explosives. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on. India should recognize these attacks as the tip of the iceburg and act decisively to protect its own population. Otherwise, it will be in the same position as a rabid dog that chases its own tail so mindlessly that the owner, out of mere compassion, is forced to put it out of its misery.

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