19.07.2017 Countercurrents

Not Just Black or Muslim, ALL Lives Matter!

By Dr Mansoor Durrani

United States of America has been the leader of nations for a while. From fashion and food to “war on terror” other nations simply follow the leader. But people embrace American products like McDonald, Nike, iPhone and other American lifestyle by choice. So it is unfair to say that the US gets the world to follow it under the gun. Of course US does compel and bully others, but only for big-ticket games like wars, arm sales etc. And it is not just consumers or governments who follow the US practices worldwide. Even the social movements picking up slogans from the US. So there is Black Lives Matter movement, and then the white Americans have their own Native Lives Matter movement.

In the aftermath of recent hate crimes against Muslims in the US and Europe and lynching terrorism that the New India has unleashed on its Muslim population, the civil society in support of helpless victims has come up with the slogan Muslim Lives Matter. Being a universal faith that is meant for the entire humanity and not just for Muslims, I have an issue with this narrow focus – no matter how justified it may seem under the current situation. Even though under the hate crimes and lynching terrorism a vast majority victims are Muslims, but Islamic faith teaches that all human lives are equally precious. If innocent Muslim lives are taken by saffron terrorists on the streets of Northern or Southern Indian states are precious then the innocent Hindu lives taken while returning from a pilgrimage in Kashmir are important too. Beyond India, Christian lives matter in South Sudan as much as Buddhist lives matter in Tibet. And Shi’a lives matter in Pakistan as much as Sunni lives matter in Syria and Iraq!

If other narrow, self-centered and petty ideologies create high walls around their ethnic or faith groups, it is understandable. But the Muslim civil society in India (and elsewhere) should have given one-and-only slogan to safeguard innocent lives and that slogan must be Human Lives Matter. The human angle resonates a bit more in the Indian context because the entire lynching terrorism shows to the world that cows (even if the beef eatingor beef carrying allegations are true) are more important than human lives in New India! It is this primitive mindset combined with cold barbarity that sets the current situation apart from all the atrocities intermittently unleashed on Muslims over the past seven decades.

In the midst of these challenging times, an encouraging fact that requires both recognition and appreciation is large scale support that the victims of lynching terrorism receiving from Indians of all other faiths. Though we are yet to see a Portland, Oregon style defense where in May 2017 three white American men gave their lives for defending a young Muslim girl in headscarf who was being terrorized on a train by a white Muslim-hater. But a fair section of Indian media, specially alternate news outlets on social media, have strongly condemned endless killings of innocent Muslims. These aspects point to the need for a worldwide movement under the banner of Human Lives Matter. Depending upon which part of the world we are discussing, innocent lives of all faith groups are being taken mercilessly by hate groups who operate under various banners and who have established lawless dictatorships under the garb of democracies in a number of countries – including our incredible India!

There is a general impression (and correct to some extent) that while Muslims claim to be the followers of a universal faith that preaches perfect equality regardless of cast, color, class or creed.But in practice their reaction or protests against atrocities are largely confined to their own faith groups. This is fundamentally contrary to the teachings of their Islamic faith. It may be just fine for the saffron brigade to differentiate the value of human lives. For example, they condemn and grieve SEVEN Amarnath pilgrims killed by terrorists and then the very next week coldly ignore the deaths of SEVENTEEN Amarnath pilgrims when their bus falls into a gorge – just because there was no Muslim link to these SEVENTEEN deaths.

This hypocrisy is not confined to civilian deaths alone. Even the political value of military causalities is assessed by who actually the killer is. So when a senior Indian army officer Major ShikharThapa, of 71 Armoured Regiment is killed in J&K on 17 July by his subordinate NaikKathiresan who pumped five bullets in Major’s back, no hashtags is launched in sympathy of Major Shikhar’s 3 month old son!

More than 100 cases of suicide are reported every year in the Indian armed forces. But no tears are shed on these losses of lives. Human lives!!

But Muslims claim to have a different value system. This is why there are two strong reasons for them to take a lead on a new Human Lives Matter initiative (A) they are the principal victims (worldwide) of Western-led war on terror and (B) Qur’an, their Holy book, most explicitly says this:

Whoever saves one (human) it is as if he saved the entire humanity [Chapter 5: verse 32]

Dr Mansoor Durrani is a PhD in Islamic Banking from UK. He is currently serving as a Senior Vice President at a top bank in the Middle East. Views are personal.

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