How the Indian Left is Using Islamophobia: Lessons from JNUSU Election

Various student bodies and associations protest against the suicide of Research scholar Rohit Vemula outside the MHRD ministry in New Delhi on monday. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal New Delhi 180116

Waseem RS

1) Take any Muslim movements who are critical of SFI/AISA (the so called ‘left unity’ or the ‘left’ in this particular context) and turn them into contextless monsters in history and politics. The construction of an Islamic scholar like Abul A’ala Maududi to a mythical monster is an example.

2) Appease any Muslim who is obedient to the left and use those docile Muslim bodies to validate an Islamic sectarian politics then oppose those Muslim movements who are critical of the left. They use of the theological divide among Muslims to make sure that leftist vote banks for Muslims remain intact. The embryonic or childlike imagery of Muslims enforced by the left unity is a sign of Islamophobia. The value of Muslims increase when it suits the Islamophobic agenda of the left.

3) Use gender, sexuality, or the tools of ‘identity politics’ to build a discourse around Islamophobia. Meanwhile, they dismiss any arguments around identity assertions to privilege class politics inside the left movements. Contingency, play, and chance are not historical values when it comes to Muslim mobilizations. Instrumental use of identity politics to perpetuate Islamophobia is the strategy of the left. For example, the methodology of demonizing SIO by using instrumental reasoning.

4) Deny the historical and ethical role of Islam in India to say that Islam is the same as the Hindu Brahmanical order. Avoid talking about it to ‘house Muslims’ (courtesy to Malcolm X) who are in support of the left.

5) Use Muslims who are in the left to fight against an autonomous social justice based political assertion of Muslims. It is like using the marginalised in the leftist platform to resist the independent political mobilisation of the autonomous movements of the marginalised.

6) Run away from a meaningful conversation about the role of the left in perpetuating Islamophobia in Kerala and West Bengal. Facts and figures are against the left in understanding what happens to Muslims in those states. There is less communal violence in the state of Kerala, and West Bengal is also used as an argument to further leftist paternalism over the Muslim minority subject.

7) Always portray Muslim movements as a void in terms of caste, class, gender, and sexuality etc. to deny the political values of Islam in addressing those questions and offer a criticism to these movements for what they are not in politics. They pretend as though the left unity achieved or solved all the problems of politics in a single day. The dynamism of Islamic movements is rejected by constructing a static image of Islamic values. SIO (Students Islamic Organisation of India) or Jamaat e Islami is accused not because of the void in the politics but because they do not give the left a space to dominate in terms of political contestation in determining what it means to be Muslim in the world.

8) Use of Orientalist and Islamophobic readings to address the dissenting and revolutionary voices of Islamic politics.

9) Use the everyday interaction of the Muslim community discourse – speech, fatwas, sermons or articles – out of context and in a less nuanced way to control the political autonomy of the Muslims. Discursive understanding of Islamic tradition as an endless conversation on text, context, and social agents is compromised in the process of Islamophobia.

10) Use the available pool of War on Terror discourse. The construction of a violent hierarchy between good Muslim vs bad Muslim is an effective method used to perpetuate Islamophobia. The notorious terror hunt, using the anti-terror laws, which took place in West Bengal and Kerala are cases in point. The development of the racialized Muslim prison complex in India using the War on Terror discourse has also happened where left is in power. Two examples: A) Majority of the UAPA case victims of Kerala are Muslims. It was initiated by the comrade VS Achuthananthan. He was a central committee member of Communist Party of India (Marxist). B) History of the Police shooting in Kerala – 19 May 2009 Beemapalli Police shooting that killed seven Muslim fishermen and injured 52 others. This happened under the rule of left government.

11) Abuse the language of religion in general or Islam in particular when it suits the purpose of the left. The selective use of religion and Islam to achieve political patronage over Muslims is a feature of Islamophobia.

12) Use vulgar Kantian moralism to say that the end goals of the Islamic movements are different from the means of achieving it. The denial of the ethics of action from an Islamic point of view is the denial of the epistemology of Islam. The violence against the epistemology of Islam is the violence against being Islamic or Muslims. (The erasure of the epistemology is the erasure of being). It is a form of symbolic genocide that precedes the actual physical annihilation of Muslims. Islamophobia is the denial of the Muslim’s right to determine their politics as agents of an epistemology and the subjects of being Muslim.

Republished from TwoCircles.Net

Waseem RS is a research scholar from JNU

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