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Monday, April 7, 2014

Shun Politics of Separatism

URL - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/04/shun-politics-of-separatism.html

Tufail Ahmed's article is worth reading to understand the Muslim dilemma; I am pleased to extract a few thoughtful sentences and phrases for us to ponder.

"Muslim leaders failed to comprehend a kind of politics that could help Muslims see their future in togetherness with the country's mainstream."

Indeed, this is the sentiment of many a Muslims who feel responsible for the plight of Muslims and want to do something about it. Dr. AbuSaleh Shariff emphasized a point about it in the annual meeting of US India Policy Institute in Houston.   He compared the Quota system and its superfluity - West Bengal has some 25% of Muslims but have less than 2% of jobs in the state, Kerala has a higher quota of some 17% for Muslims, but only 9% is utilized (Figures need to be checked).  He questioned the need for Quota.  Most likely the same Muslims would have gotten the same jobs without quota.

We don't need quota, what we need is proportionate representation that is fair and equitable with all other communities. It will remove the false rhetoric of Minority appeasement - hell, there is no appeasement then why have it? Indeed, we need to be a part of the main stream and don't need any special treatment, but a fair and just treatment on par with every Indian.

"After the 1857 war in which the two communities fought unitedly against the British, the Muslim leadership should have logically worked together with Hindus."

The three reasons Tufail Ahmed has proffered do make sense. It is just not the Muslim voters who have been taken for granted but others have experienced the same depravity; false promises!  The Ram Mandir issue is a clear vote bank issue to flame the fundamentalists among Hindu community, and promises made to them were not delivered either.  It's an equal opportunity cheating by politicians.

One of the many ways to change this behavior of politicians is demanding that they make a few promises that they can keep, and we need to ask how they would do it.

Fear needs to go! We are afraid to demand, or ask questions. We have got to remember, they are in the seat because of us, each one of us giving them the vote of confidence.

"As the Indian republic searches for maturity in its weaknesses, India's mainstream too longs for Muslims to stop treating themselves as minorities."

What is good for Muslims has got to be good for Hindus and all other Indians and vice versa, the good will not last if it benefits one and not the others.

I would not even use the word Main Stream - we all should be in the same stream, all of us have the same aspirations, issues, problems and dreams, and we need not create separate dreams, but have a common dream, and it will help us build that energy, together we can achieve that dream. 

"There is another concern: if Muslims shun some parties instead of having them to moderate their conduct by joining them, they will alienate themselves significantly, more so if it's a party with countrywide presence. Muslims must embrace all parties, a relevant message conveyed through Akbar's political choice."

This is the idea we need to work on. I went on the hate list of a few Muslims, when I suggested the call of the then PM Vajpayee to join BJP. Of course I am on the hate list of a few Hindus as well for not praising Modi.  If we want a change that is good for all including us, we need to be part of the group and bring about solutions. We cannot alienate any party and let them deprive us of participation.

In the end I want to share the power of belonging.

In February 2013, Sean Hannity called me to join in a retreat at Fox News in New York. Perhaps, I was the only one who was not a right winger in that group. Congressman Peter King, Congressman Gohmert, Ambassador John Bolton, Pamela Geller… were among the 25.  It was my turn to be on the stage with Hannity, I am going to call Brother Hannity for a purpose. He said, " You are the only Muslim friend I have,  and I promise you this, I will not say Muslim Terrorists, but instead say, Terrorists among Muslims" I was literally in tears… this was the change I was looking for, I did put up with humility in the past and some abuse, but it was worth it. Ever since, I became a fan of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) I have believed in his approach to building better societies; his formula; conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturence. 

What happened after that? Within a few months the Boston Marathon bombings took place… and Congressman Peter King said to the media "96% of Muslims are fine, it is the 4% we need to watch" - that was a 180 degree turnaround from a year before when he called Muslims as Terrorists… Not only Peter King, but there was another one from the retreat who was influenced by Hannity's promise to me.  I was cursed by a few Muslims, and Cair's Ibrahim Hooper screamed at me and "told" me not to go on Hannity. How short sighted was he?  Without engagement we cannot change a thing. I am a Moderate Republican, and will remain one, despite not finding any company in the party, but walking away from it gives them carte Blanche.

I am glad to see Akbar join the BJP, who knows he may help the party tone down some extreme rhetoric.
I was also happy to hear from Latafat Hussain, a Muslim friend of Vajpayee in Houston who was able to see the soft side of Vajpayee. 

I hope we question our prejudices on issues and demand ourselves to see from another point of view.  If we can do that, then we can have the courage to ask others to do the same.

Thanks Tufail for this piece.

Shun Politics of Separatism

Published: 08th April 2014 06:00 AM

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

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