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How to avoid future 9/11s & Beslans

September 30, 2004 12:22 IST

Part I: September tragedies: 9/11/73, 9/11/01 and Beslan

The reactions of many players to the Beslan tragedy were quite interesting, thanks to reader Arvind for bringing some of them to my attention. The All-India Muslim Majlis president Syed Shahabuddin deplored the incident but made it clear that he supported Chechen separatism: 

'The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat is shocked by the horrifying sequence of events in Beslan in North Ossetia, Russia, which has caused the death of hundreds of innocent children and other civilians.

Islamic law absolutely prohibits the holding to ransom and killing of innocent non-combatants, particularly old men, women and children.

However, the AIMMM takes this opportunity to reiterate its moral support to Chechenya's centuries-old struggle for liberation from Russia.' 

India's Old Left was caught on the wrong foot according to the New Indian Express ('Intellectuals regret their silence on Beslan,' September 7, 2004). It was quite entertaining to see them squirm. I was reminded of Sherlock Holmes' 'curious incident of the dog in the night-time,' the singularity of which was that the dog didn't bark: 

'I should've reacted. And I expected others also to react. But I did suffer the pain (of Beslan killings) though didn't know how to express it,' admitted Justice V R Krishna Iyer, known for his strong positions on issues like US aggression on Iraq. 

Echoing a similar regret, poet K G Sankara Pillai said he was pained and shocked and didn't know how to express his grief.

'I wasn't sure where to air them. I'm sure there would be many like me who underwent similar trauma on hearing the tragedy,' he said.

According to T K Ramachandran of Secular Initiative, he didn't react as 'it would not have influenced the thinking of anyone.'

On whether his earlier reactions on international crisis had any impact, Ramachandran seemed confused. 'I wanted to protest. But didn't express. But now I regret it,' he said.

When their pet groups are in conflict, the Old Left seems inclined to plump for the Muslims: I guess it is because the Russians are apostates, having converted out of Marxism. I eagerly await the day when Uighur Muslims take hundreds of Han Chinese hostage. That would really create a moral dilemma for the Old Left. Will they support the Han Chinese or the Muslims? Of course the Chinese will have no dilemma, a few hundred hostages are expendable: they will attack the Uighurs with full force.

At least one Arab Muslim felt the whole episode in Beslan was a shame on his fellow-Muslims. This was journalist Abdel Rahman Al-Rashid, whose cry from the heart appeared in The Daily Telegraph (Innocent religion is now a message of hate, September 5, 2004, ). Said Al-Rashid:

'We can't call those who take schoolchildren as hostages our own.

We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image.

We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.'

Both Shahabuddin and Al-Rashid talk about 'innocents', and this brings up a question. If Islam explicitly disallows attacks on 'innocent' old men, women and children, why do Islamic terrorists (they generally claim to be devout Muslims) feel free to slaughter

'innocent' old men, women and children? I wonder if the explanation is in the meaning of the word 'innocent', which may be a technical term in Islam different from normal street parlance (just as 'terror' is different to NATO from street parlance).

There are other technical terms in Islam with specific meanings, for instance 'peace.' 'Peace' in Islam appears to mean 'the state of affairs in which Islam is dominant'. Thus dar-ul-harb is the domain of conflict, as opposed to dar-ul-islam, the domain of peace. This stands theologically even though there have been intra-Muslim wars, for example the long-running Iran-Iraq war, and there has been internal conflict in Muslim lands, for instance 100,000 have been killed in Algeria by fundamentalist fellow Muslims.

Similarly, I wonder if 'innocent' is a technical term that means 'Muslim non-combatant.' For, it is believed by the faithful that the appeal of Islam is so strong that anyone exposed to the teachings of Islam should automatically become Muslim. Taking that logic further, if someone hasn't become Muslim, that means either a. they are ignorant and haven't been exposed to Islam, or b. having been exposed to Islam, but they are resisting it, which means they are wicked and perverse. Clearly, neither an ignorant person nor a wicked person is innocent.

This conjecture would explain the seeming paradox of devout Islamists attacking what the impartial observer would consider 'innocent' people. This is why Muslims have always been able to slaughter non-Muslims so casually. Remember Vijayanagar, which burned for six months? Remember Direct Action Day in Calcutta, when 10,000 unarmed Hindus were massacred? Remember the Moplah Rebellion, another 10,000 Hindu civilians killed, raped, forcibly converted? Remember Maraad? What about ongoing atrocities in Bangladesh, as in the HRCBM web site? This is why nobody should be amazed at what happened in Beslan.

That brings up an important question. How can non-Muslims deal with Muslims? Logically, there are three possible ways to do this:

  • With outright hostility. The Russians have done this in Chechnya, with the result that there are serious attacks on the Russian state.
  • With fawning obsequiousness. The Nehruvian Stalinist establishment has done this in India, with the result that there are serious attacks on the Indian State.
  • With indifference. The British have done this; there is a virtual parallel Islamic State there, and London is now widely called 'Londonistan.' 

All three models have failed. 

But historically speaking, outright hostility seems to have had the best percentage. Christian Crusaders violently ejected all Muslims from Spain, and that held the line in Europe. Hindus in India kept up continuous armed resistance for centuries, and this prevented them from being completely overrun like Persians and Egyptians were, although they took a lot of losses. 

Obsequiousness or dhimmitude has never worked anywhere: just ask Coptic Christians, Assyrians, Druze, and other such vanishing dhimmis in Muslim majority nations. The religious demography of India that was published recently by the census authorities makes this history quite au courant for India too. 

The British (and European model) is revealing. After a few decades of benign multiculturalism, Muslim immigrants and their descendants are ghettoised, radicalised, antagonistic to the State and to non-Muslim citizens; they have created no-go areas where the police fear to tread, and prey upon young non-Muslim women. And yet they see themselves as somehow victimised by these welfare States. 

So the world has to do something with their Muslim populations. The question is what, exactly? We better think up something pronto, to avoid future 9/11s and Beslans. The Americans, alas, have failed to take the lead, because they are trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hound: usually a losing proposition.  

Comments welcome at For responses to reader emails, see


Rajeev Srinivasan