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‘Love jihad’ is just an excuse for violent racism – and terrorism

The Modi government in India is encouraging acts of Hindu terrorism against the country’s Muslims to prevent mythical ‘love jihad’.

It is disingenuous to use a word that indeed describes a terrorist tactic to excuse what is in actual fact a completely different form of terrorism.

That modern India is a Hindu nation is beyond dispute. Of the country’s 1.3 billion inhabitants almost four-fifths (80%) are Hindu. That is a healthy majority.

Of course, until fairly recently in its history India was actually ruled by a Muslim minority, the Mughals. That empire was solidly in place for three centuries (early 16th to mid 19th, although it was significantly weakened in the last one) and was eventually tossed aside when the British took over.

So, it should come as no surprise that there is some rancour between the two religious/ethnic poles. If the many are ruled by the few, the many tend to dislike the few. Stands to reason.

File image of a BJP supporter at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Hindu extremists like their India ‘a la Modi’ (Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint)

What is India like today? The current Indian President, Narendra Modi, is a Hindu nationalist. His political party, the BJP, is backed by a group called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist and extremist bunch. The BJP and the RSS are joined at the hip. And, with Modi’s acquiescence, there have been some seriously violent acts carried out by Hindus against Muslims.

One of the things about Islam and Indian Muslims that Hindu extremists really seem to hate is what they are calling ‘love jihad’. This is a very silly notion that India’s Muslims have some dastardly plan whereby men ‘lure’ women to Islam by promising marriage to them. The goal is, I guess, to have them convert to Islam and then miraculously reverse India’s demographics.

Of course, these new couples will have lots of children, who will by definition be Muslim too, so you see where this is all going, right? Over, oh I dunno, a few thousands years or so, India will become a Muslim state again. How evil! It is the ultimate ‘revenge of the cradle’: the term is actually Canadian and refers to the ability of Quebecois women to have enough babies to secure its Francophone nature forever (NB I went to high school with a young Quebecoise who was one of 21 children – now that’s some revenge!!).

In the face of this scheme what are India’s Hindu extremists doing?

On the one hand they are singling out couples where they suspect this ‘love jihad’ is occurring for beatings and even murder.

This is a list of girls who have become victims of love jihad. We urge all Hindu lions to find and hunt down all the men mentioned here.

Washington Post Article

The other step being taken is somewhat more sinister. To date, two Indian states, Madhya Pradesh and Upper Pradesh, both controlled by the BJP, have passed legislation ‘outlawing’ love jihad. Except that they don’t call it that of course. The new statutes refer to “pressuring a woman to convert to their husband’s religion”.

Despite this linguistic slight of hand, everyone knows that it refers to Muslim men and Hindu women. If a Hindu man married a Muslim woman and ‘convinced’ her to adopt Hinduism would the law apply? Curious minds want to know!

Apparently under the new law, a man and woman belonging to different religions will have to give at least two months notice to the district magistrate before they get married and they will be given permission if there are no objections. Objections by whom?

What year is this?

Whatever happened to the separation of religion and state which is supposed to be a bedrock of democracies? Of which India is one by the way. Who the hell thinks this way in the 21st century?

Hindu extremists, that’s who. India has long been in the thrall of these violent actors for decades and Modi is making matters worse. A real president would back ALL Indians, not just those the RSS thinks are ‘true’ citizens.

Even if ‘jihad’ is a very complicated term in Arabic there is no question that Islamist terrorists have cornered the market on its use: violence in the name of Allah.

That Hindus accuse Indian Muslims of ‘love jihad’, in other words a form of terrorism, is a joke.

It is they that are encouraging acts of religious violence. It is time to call these laws, and the vigilantism they encourage, what they are: state-sponsored terrorism.

And it is time for the BJP to stop backing these actors.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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