Vishnu and the Missing Minarets

Swiss Muslims are Swiss

In response to Jaideep Kulkarni who had asked why Indians should care if the Swiss ban minarets or mosques and whether it should concern us, NDTV’s Vishnu Som gave an astonishing reply. “Yes it does” he said. “It represents a fundamental threat to millions of Muslims in our country.”

Now, what you think of Switzerland’s decision is one thing. It is totally another to declare that the Swiss decision on minaret-building represents a “fundamental threat” to millions of Indian Muslims. So I asked Mr Som to explain why. His response? “Would you’ve been OK if your place of worship was banned in a country based on the premise that people of your religion are terrorists?”

That being neither here nor there, I repeated the question. And also asked if Saudi Arabia’s ban on temples, churches, synagogues and other places of worship also constituted a “fundamental threat” to Indian Hindus, Christians, Jews and others.

Mr Som didn’t reply. He should have known better than to throw about phrases like “fundamental threat to millions of Indians” so carelessly. In fact if the likes of Mr Som don’t hype up the matter, millions of Indian Muslims wouldn’t know, wouldn’t care and would not be threatened by the absence of minarets in a country most of them wouldn’t ever set foot in.

Related Posts: French Sikhs are French; Malaysian Hindus are Malaysians; Fijian Hindus are Fijians and Italy should mind its own business.

147 thoughts on “Vishnu and the Missing Minarets”

  1. You have missed the point. And you have not got the answer you seek because you’re being impatient. As repeatedly mentioned in the tweets … I am through with tweeting tonight. But watch out for tomorrow.

    And just so we are clear … YES, the ban on minarets does constitute a fundamental threat to Muslims in India in my view. Why? Well, the answer is nuanced, requires patience and a mind with a secular bent.

    So … wait for it, it will come.

    And for your viewers … do please take a look at ndtv.com/vishnu and do join !

    Best
    Vishnu Som
    Associate Editor and Senior Anchor
    NDTV

  2. ” Just a debate on something in Switzerland. Doesnt really matter if it concerns people here or not.” _ this was the reply to my Q on twitter by Vishnu, when I asked why should it bother muslims here

  3. I’m an expat Indian currently living and blogging in Switzerland. The decision to ban minarets has only solidified my belief in the secular and plural nature of my own country. To paraphrase Barack Obama in his latest speech.. ” … we must draw on the strength of our values – for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not”

    My gut reaction to the decision can be found here

  4. Totally agree with your thoughts .. Its solely the responsibilty of the media for how they want the masses to percieve it as . Nobody looks at the other side of the coin .. In secular ( or say pseudo secular ) India , at least the muslims feel safe n secure enuf that they wud be relived that such thing wont happen here !!

  5. Nitin,
    I wish you had pressed Mr. Som for a reply to your question on Saudi Arabia (and, as it applies equally to, every other member of Organization of Islamic Countries, barring a few exceptions)? We shouldn’t let fellows like Mr. Som, who never miss an opportunity to stir trouble, followed by mayhem, off the hook so easily.

  6. Vishnu,

    You have missed the point. And you have not got the answer you seek because you’re being impatient.

    That’s why I asked the question in the first place. The charge of impatience is unwarranted because if you shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, it is reasonable for reasonable people to ask “Where?” and to expect an immediate answer.

    (Your rhetorical question on what I would do if my place of worship were banned is irrelevant. But to highlight how presumptuous you were let me say that I don’t have a place of worship, and if a country banned something that I hold dear—tequila shots come to mind—then I wouldn’t go to that country. If I find myself in that country, then I will not drink tequila shots, for obeying the law of the land is both right and prudent. So what does that do your argument?)

    Well, the answer is nuanced, requires patience and a mind with a secular bent.

    Well, until you tell us the answer, as opposed to the adjectives that describe it, you still have not answered the question.

    And indeed if the answer is nuanced, requires patience (and I don’t know what is a ‘secular bent’, for secularism applies to states, not individuals) then all the more reason that a responsible member of the media not use strong terms like “fundamental threat to millions of Indian Muslims” so loosely.

    Still waiting for your explanation.

  7. This thing is a huge publicity stunt by Vishnu. There were 2 sane options he could’ve taken. One support the ban and be named ‘communal’ by his sickular brethren. The other kept silent, but lose political mileage.
    He chose the best option turn the nail on its head. Support the ban, get praise from his sickular brethren (at least no one has dared to criticize him).
    Someone’s getting a good bonus at the end of this year. ROFL.

  8. Vishnu

    Ok…lets say I agree with u…
    So by your own argument then – you should also agree that the ban Article 370 puts on rest of India – is fundamental threat to the existence of rest of India
    and other Indians – and hence Article 370 must be scrapped.
    Please have the nerve to say so on your channel now…!

    -A Soul in exile.

  9. Vishnu
    I hope you will not be hiding behind complex jargons on ‘special status, autonomy, law of land, impatience on Kashmir issue, nuances of answers and …’ to excuse yrself from actually saying anything on article 370… or why you or your channel didnt take up the issue of Rome Administration preventing Durga Puja in Rome this year…Were there some other nuances that we idiots don’t understand on as to why that didnt threaten the religious freedom and integrity of Hindus’ here…?
    please enlighten

    _Soul in Exile.

  10. 1. “Would you’ve been OK if your place of worship was banned in a country based on the premise that people of your religion are terrorists?”

    No. Absolutely not OK. Not irrelevant. Answered as such.
    But I am not sure to what extent we can go in meddling with the affairs of that sovereign country. Maybe some naming-and-shaming as of now. If this is something that goes to apartheid levels, obviously stronger measures could be called for.

    2. “Is this a fundamental threat to millions of Muslims in our country?”

    uh…. No? I think it would inconvenience greatly an IM traveling to Switzerland. It could signal a stronger inbuilt bias against their religion by at least the 60% that voted for this. But fundamental threat to Indians residing in India? Some explanation required.

    3. “Secularism applies for states not individuals”
    Huh?

    4. Comparing Swiss to Saudi.
    Jeez some baseline that.

    rgds,
    Jai

  11. Vishnu Som has just made an ass out of himself. Not that it was much in doubt. Only lends credence to the popular notion that NDTV journalists and newscasters’ mouths write cheques their asses can’t cash. Oh, and this just in. The International Organisation for Uber Pwnage had declared Vishnu Som their Pwned Personality for the Year 2009.

  12. Vishnu,

    > Well, the answer is nuanced, requires patience
    > and a mind with a secular bent.

    The answer requires patience? I haven’t read such blather since I graded high-school sophomores a few years back. Pray tell, are you an English language anchor on television?

    I also await your answer to Nitin’s question.

    -iu

  13. And one more observation. Vishnu obviously and subsequently expeditiously found his way to this blog post by following the link provided on the twitter page. So he must have seen the previous and repeated requests for an answer to the desired question. Yet, he chose not to oblige us followers on twitter as to what the answer could be. Instead Mr. Som was probably hiding behind his laptop, pressing the F5 key on regular intervals hoping no further attention would be brought to his juvenile tweet. Mr. Som, people aren’t surprised at your lack of fortitude in replying to a question directed at you in an open forum because it reflects in your news reportage as well.

    Ed–A portion of this comment has been deleted as it is in poor taste

  14. My responses to several comments made on the issue of the minaret ban in Switzerland will be coming up over a period of several hours on twitter… as and when I have time to respond.

    Many of the views expressed in the viewer feedback section of this site sicken me.

    They are largely personal attacks by individuals who, I believe, do not understand or seek to understand the extent of hurt a decision like this minaret ban has caused.

    I will respond to to those comments.

    There are, of course, more obnoxious comments as well from individuals such as DaveyBoy. Could this person kindly forward me their email address. I can be reached at vishnu@ndtv.com. I have a thing or two to say which I would not like to write on a public forum.

    Vishnu Som
    Associate Editor and Senior Anchor, NDTV.
    vishnu@ndtv.com

  15. Vishnu,

    This blog is a forum for a serious discussion of issues. Feel free to ignore personal attacks.

    I understand that you are sickened by some comments. But you still owe a response to those who made their arguments in a civil manner.

  16. It is interesting that Vishnu invoked the need of ‘a mind with a secular bent’ in response to what (I believed) was a nuanced, rational, well-constructed question by Nitin without any religional bias (I desist using the word ‘secular’ as I don’t quite understand its meaning in the Indian context.).

    I am afraid to say it already gives me a fair idea about how Vishnu’s argument will go.

    Vishnu,

    I can only hope that your response contains a robust argument without resorting to the regular secular/communal cliche.

    One can possibly argue that Swiss decision is communal/non-secular/whatever, but whether that communal/non-secular/whatever decision poses a ‘fundamental threat to Indian muslims’ is a different issue altogether. I hope you are able to make this distinction.

    Waiting for your answer.

  17. Well to start with – one should tell a bullshitter to stop bullshitting and wasting everyones time.

    “….or seek to understand the extent of hurt a decision like this minaret ban has caused”

    This above quote is typical of a soft headed nehruvian liberal. Nobody in the whole world feels any umbrage. Nobody in the world has asked for unsolicited certifications. But the nehruvian in his liberal zeal has already typed out his pamphlet and faxed it to ten thousand people.

  18. “And you have not got the answer you seek because you’re being impatient. … Well, the answer is nuanced, requires patience and a mind with a secular bent.” I first thought this was a spoof response by an impostor and doubled up in laughter reading it. But after reading the other comments it looks like it’s the Real McCoy. Awful! Are these the sort of people who disseminate “news” to us and try to shape public opinion? Man, looks like you need to really scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to fill the ranks of the mainstream media. I shudder just thinking about the impact this will have on the effective collective IQ of the emerging generation of Indians.

  19. Any move by any society that restricts freedoms this way is saddening. More troubling if it comes out of an acclaimed open society, signaling a possible start of “competitive intolerance” that Nitin so often has written about.

    The grounds on which tequila is banned while X, Y, Z comparable drinks are not, are of concern to all drinkers, and to teetotallers. If there is no good reason to be had, every right thinking X,Y,Z, or non-drinker could protest. IMHO they have a right to complain even if T drinkers arent complaining.

    Apartheid in SA is one example I cited for where “X’s citizens are X’s concern” does not apply. But specifically this ban is not on freedom of worship but on shape or architecture of the abode of worship right? sounds like a cultural issue. I visited temples in sheds in some countries and was told that local zoning or permits were not given for gopuram structures. Didnt seem like a very big deal to me though it feels odd in retrospect.

    thx,
    Jai

  20. Vishnu,

    You are copping out. Of the 11 comments and 1 blog post that preceded your comment (expressing being sickened etc) only 3 would qualify as personal attacks.

    There were nine people who disagreed with you, in a civil and reasonable way. Yet you claim to be offended by a minority of comments and use it to escape answering the question!

    If you had the time to comment twice on this blog, why not answer the question right here? Why say it’s nuanced, only certain type of people will understand it, and that you’ll answer in on twitter when you have time?

    Hope you understand the seriousness—you have made a comment that can have incendiary real consequences, and you somehow think explanations can wait?

  21. I have never seen a bigger bunch of anti-secular clowns in my life.. How could you dare defend the sheer offensive nature of what has happened in switzerland.. its a personal attack on ALL MUSLIMS.. whether in India, turkey or the gulf or wherever..

    Vishnu Som is the only one who makes sense here.. most of the other comments are laughable..

    and your party the BJP is done, which means the lot of you are done.. u have no place in this country

    And daveboy i am a woman and i find Mr. Som’s jaw very attractive..
    you should get your butt out of your couch, your hand out of your ass and get a life beyond staring at peoples jaws you lonely man..

  22. I have promised to clarify some of the remarks I made on my page http://www.ndtv.com/vishnu and here they are.

    I must confess … replying to the comments posted here … are bound to be counter productive since I don’t see the large majority of writers here able or willing to understand something so basic.

    Nonetheless … let me get to my first, evidently controversial statement … that the ban of minarets in Switzerland represents a fundamental threat to Muslims here in India.

    This is as easy to comprehend as it gets. No where has anyone suggested that this THREAT to Muslims means that a minaret-hating Swiss national will position himself in India to present a gun to the heads of Muslims.

    No, not at all. But what must be understood is that there is a palpable right-wing backlash against Muslims in several parts of the world … and I argue that the Swiss ban on minarets is part of that. This backlash, in its entirely represents a FUNDAMENTAL threat to Muslims not just in India, but around the world.

    How does this threat manifest itself? At several levels.

    Firstly … at a basic psychological level … many Muslims would ask the same question which I asked Acorn (and which was apparently `neither here nor there’). And that question is this … “Would you’ve been OK if your place of worship was banned in a country based on the premise that people of your religion are terrorists?.” I believe this is a valid point and I would hope that it would make a lot of your readers understand WHY Muslims would feel persecuted, many even here in India.

    I don’t think I need to outline the many other ways in which innocent Muslims around the world are being scrutinised, targeted and made to abide by laws and legislation which seem to target them on the basis of their religion. From additional scrutiny of Muslims in passport and visa applications to the French ban on religious headgear in certain places.

    But these are my views .. why not try and understand what others have to say … and remember, these are DIRECTLY linked to the basic argument that this represents a threat to Muslims all over the world, even Indians.

    According to an article in the Voice of America website … the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights deplores what has happened in Switzerland. According to Navi Pillay’s spokesperson, “The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has said she hesitates to condemn a democratic vote. But, she has no hesitation at all in condemning the anti-foreigner scare mongering which has characterized political campaigns in a number of countries including Switzerland, which helps produce results like this”

    According to Swissinfo.ch which interviewed Rainer Schweizer, a professor of criminal law at St Gallen University, “For most legal experts, the case is clear: The minaret ban runs contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. It contravenes both the clause in the convention on the prohibition of discrimination and the guarantee of religious freedom. There is hardly an objective reason why the minaret ban can stand up against the convention. That means that the ECJ in Strasbourg could one day severely reprimand Switzerland and force it to withdraw the minaret ban, which is now anchored in the Swiss constitution.”

    One can go on and on with this line of thought … the central point being easy to understand … the decision to ban minarets is regressive, its anti-Muslim, and violates religious freedom. As I have argued earlier, this is part of a larger wave against Muslims … perhaps part of the generalisation that Muslims are universally terrorists or inclined to violence.

    I cannot tolerate such a generalisation and cannot tolerate people who believe that to be the truth. And it is generalisations like this which represent a fundamental threat to Muslims in India and around the world.

    There is a second question I need to answer on the ban on non-Muslim places of worship in other parts of the world. I will reply to that later today hopefully.

    But, in the meanwhile, let me take on some of those who have commented on your site …

    Nitin wrote:
    “The charge of impatience is unwarranted because if you shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, it is reasonable for reasonable people to ask “Where?” and to expect an immediate answer.”

    Rubbish … learn to wait. As you can see, I have formed my views and have delivered them here. No one has the time to respond real time throughout the day. I work. Am sure you do as well.

    Murli wrote: “Are these the sort of people who disseminate “news” to us and try to shape public opinion? Man, looks like you need to really scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to fill the ranks of the mainstream media. I shudder just thinking about the impact this will have on the effective collective IQ of the emerging generation of Indians.”

    Murli … I think the bigger concern is your IQ … Learn to accept that there are views other than your own. Learn to engage people who have made the time to participate in this debate with meaningful arguments. Don’t generalise on the media … certainly not with someone who has been a part of it for as long as I have. So if you want to shoot the message and the messanger … do so with a literate argument. Blind media/NDTV/Vishnu bashing is ignorant. Are you ?

    Pankaj wrote: “This above quote is typical of a soft headed nehruvian liberal. Nobody in the whole world feels any umbrage. Nobody in the world has asked for unsolicited certifications. But the nehruvian in his liberal zeal has already typed out his pamphlet and faxed it to ten thousand people.”

    I am not zealous. I do not bullshit. Neither do I take it upon myself to provide people like you with “unsolicited certifications.” I am merely responding to a debate. You don’t know me. You barely know about my views on one issue. So don’t label me as being soft-headed or whatever. Frankly, its blurb which is soft-headed. A shade pathetic too.

    Harshit wrote: “One can possibly argue that Swiss decision is communal/non-secular/whatever, but whether that communal/non-secular/whatever decision poses a ‘fundamental threat to Indian muslims’ is a different issue altogether. I hope you are able to make this distinction.”

    Harshit, I do hope I have been able to clarify my point.

    Iu wrote: “The answer requires patience? I haven’t read such blather since I graded high-school sophomores a few years back. Pray tell, are you an English language anchor on television?”

    Iu … chances are I am more educated than you ! Perhaps it would be best for you to return to grading high school sophomores. You don’t seem to have much to add here.

    More replies when I can. After a point, I suspect the large number of you will assume you’ve got the edge in this argument based on your larger numbers. Shocked at the right-wing edge that this debate has taken to what seems, to me, to be an open and shut case.

    Vishnu Som
    Associate Editor and Senior Anchor
    NDTV
    vishnu@ndtv.com

    PS … Iu … I am sorry for any spelling mistakes here. Havent had a moment to check !

  23. religion is a thing which doesn;t have time and space boundaries… anything happened anywhere at any time can be problem for anyone anywhere, anytime if the issue is religious.

  24. Vishnu

    Thanks for the response. But I do not agree with you—I have seen the Indian passport and Indian nationality work wonders against the wider “backlash” that you cite—and 9 out of 10 Indian Muslims will never set foot outside India. So no, what you say is too remote and affects far too few Indian Muslims to constitute a fundamental threat.

    (A fundamental threat to Indian Muslims—as indeed to the rest of the country—comes from the presence of missiles in the neighbourhood, not the absence of minarets in the Swiss alps).

    Will wait for your answer why Saudi ban on other places of worship is not similarly a fundamental threat. Switzerland, as you point out, is a democratic state working within a rule-of-law system—and its decision might even be reversed after due process. There’s much to be admired in a system where constitutionalism—not violence or religious dogma—is the method to settle important public issues.

    It’s not an open and shut case. And those who disagree with you need not be pejoratively labeled ‘rightwing’. As you yourself write: “Don’t generalise…”

  25. Vishnu…

    Your controversial statement and the basic question asked by Acorn remains unanswered.

    I will repeat the question to you:

    How can the media (you) challenge a people’s verdict?

    The Swiss VOTED for it and that must be accepted by all who (supposedly) believe in DEMOCRACY.

    You being part of the NDTV team should all the more reason learn the verdict given by the people, coz your channel called Gujrati’s, Himachali’s and Kannadigas some superb names after they chose to vote for a party which in your channels opinion is not right for India.

    Rather, then giving lengthy answers for your controversial statement, it would been prudent that you just understood Acorn’s whole point and answered it accordingly.

  26. Vishnu,

    Leave aside ur all d research done n literature published on net.

    The whole twitter community understands that u r skirting and dodging IMP Questions that we have asked u

    I) Is Ban on Temples/Gurudwaras/Church in Saudi Arabia Good or Bad? Please Answer in Just One word

    II) Arent Kashmiri Hindus targetted beacuse of their religion? Hasnt the majority community atacked thier freedom of practising religion in Kashmir?

    III) Wy has there ben only one 9/11,London Bombing, Madrid Bombing but multipe Serial Blasts in India?

    Rajesh

  27. 1. My understanding of Vishnu’s stand:

    The mindset that drove the minaret ban is deeply regressive and a threat to religious freedom in Switzerland. It is spreading all over the world, part of a climate that threatens or persecutes Ms globally and derived from an agenda that considers them more likely to be terrorists. Those who have a similar mindsets in India say and do similar regressive things, and are a threat to IMs here in India.

    Hence and directly: IMs can and will feel fundamentally threatened here in India… if Swiss ban minarets…..?

    I get the first part but that last is * overkill *. It makes me feel afraid for where my neighbour is picking up his grievances from (apparently all over the world) and what he will do as a result of said grievance- Danish cartoons and their aftermath do come to mind.

    2. Vishnu,

    I dont normally do “since you said X what do you think of Y” but I dont know you. Going by the sweep of your statement, the “as easy as it gets” please do clarify your stand on the 2nd question:

    freedom of worship for non-muslims in other places, specifically I think KSA.

    Is this a fundamental threat to non-muslims elsewhere? Does the mentality that drives this also drive persecution or threats or maybe even outright violence against non-muslims elsewhere in the world?

    Thank you,
    Jai

  28. Admin Note

    This thread has gone over 25 posts & a lot of commenters are new and unfamiliar with the norms of discussion on this blog. Please keep the discussion civil and refrain from personal attacks.

    I will delete/reject comments that I deem “unsuitable for decent discussion”.

  29. “I cannot tolerate such a generalisation and cannot tolerate people who believe that to be the truth. And it is generalisations like this which represent a fundamental threat to Muslims in India and around the world.”

    It is generalizations like yours which incite hysterical reactions.
    You are performing the role of a hate-mongering mullah. I would expect someone like Hafiz Saeed to make an absurd inflammatory claim like this.

    By going public with a claim that Indian muslims are being threatened, you are inflaming religious sentiments here in India.

  30. Nitin,
    ‘I will delete/reject comments that I deem “unsuitable for decent discussion”.’

    Then you would have to reject Vishnu’s comments too.

  31. I apologize for posting again. But I think we will not find a single supporter for the claim that “Indian muslims are threatened”. This is an extremely patronizing, unwarranted and not to mention, unauthorized position.
    Let’s close this thread here.

  32. @Nitin–
    On a deviant note, what is the meaning of ‘9 out of 10 Muslims will never set foot out of the country.’
    Am guessing that you have no research to back up this statistic, so can you explain the ‘will never’ in your comment?

  33. Guys,

    May be that Vishnu got carried away using the word “Fundamental”. Frankly the argument is not important enough to be carried in such a heated manner.

    Loosen up and let the poor lad also take a breath. After all he has tried to explain his stand to best of his abilities. I personally still don’t agree with what he said or implied.

    But sometimes, if an argument is getting way too long and personal, the best thing to do is to leave it at that.

  34. @Vishnu — I like that you associate a peoples’ vote with a mindset. Indeed you may be right about that. After all a structural change in a building like a minaret(beautiful architecture) is hardly cause for concern.
    But when the Indian Muslims didnt protest at the Bamiyan Buddha statues being broken down, why should they protest against a ban in a foreign country?
    If there is a threat of a neighbour not allowing religious practice of someone else’s religion, isnt the same threat applicable to my religion?
    Plus we all know that Taliban and the Wahabbi religion practiced in Afghanistan and Saudi are largely contorted forms of the actually religion of Islam.
    And why arent you talking about the fundamental threat from Pakistan?
    Glad to see you interacting on a blog as opposed to sending a legal notice, like your more melodramatic colleague.

  35. Vishnu,
    You decay in your pompusness!!
    Everybody has a right to an opinion but it becomes important to weigh it if you are the mouthpiece of Media.
    Weighing or Analysing Impact of an Event is an elaborate process requiring immense scrutiny before coming up with the Prediction and specially if it is community centric in a sensitive society!

    Secondly, people from media categorising public views as party ideologies, not fair at al!!!!!!

    Also, I’d like Mr. Vishnu to analyze the Saudi Impact on effected communities.. etc!!

    Thanks!!

  36. IMHO, the parallel between Switzerland and Saudi Arabia is a bit misleading

    The Saudi attitude to non-Islamic faiths is a potent symptom of an obscurantist interpretation of Islam that has inspired and sustained the global spread of extremism which in turn has brought death to thousands of innocent people worldwide (including India). Surely, this constitutes a major threat (albeit not a fundamental one) to Indians and to all people worldwide

    While the Swiss attitude to minarets is equally as distasteful and offensive, it’s hard to argue that it will eventually lead to a “jihad” against Muslims in India. Still, we ignore such developments at our own peril. Europe, the cradle of two bouts of awful bloodletting in the last century, is turning narrow-minded and, in time, this has the potential of evolving into a civil war of sorts there. Does this matter to Indians (including Muslim Indians)? As Sarah Palin might say, you betcha

    Best regards

  37. The issue is not about whether the minarets have anything to do with India or Indians… obviously they do not.

    What we need to engage with however, is the spirit in which this decision made :

    1) Quid Pro Quo – Since other religions are not allowed to practice freely in Muslim countries, “they” need to be given a taste of their own medicine.

    2) Peeing around the turf – This is our country and our values – live with it or get out.

    Indians are not divorced from either of these sentiments- The Babri Masjid disaster being one of them. I think we know firsthand that this does not work for us.

    We have the largest diaspora of Muslims living , largely peacefully and well within our country. Any increase in this kind of rabid nationalisitic and ultimately fundamentalist perception across the world, means increasingly that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb in our own home.

    India is in the unique position to demonstrate that it is possible to integrate two diverse cultures. More importantly, we need to step up and lead the creation of a platform for liberal Muslims to safely express their views and lead positive change within the conservative elements of their own society.

  38. Just a couple of days ago, Al Jazeera had a good panel discussion on this issue (link at the bottom of the post). One of the panelists was a Swiss parliamentarian, his constituency had overwhelming voted in favour of the minaret ban. His argument was that while Switzerland welcomes all Muslims, they want to tackle the Salafists and Wahabis and the growth of their extemist brand of Islam as their ideologies and thinking are incompatible with Swiss secularism and values. But where does this leave the moderate muslim? link

  39. WIsh Vishnu had called the Deoband resolution (instead of the swiz minaret ban) as a threat to Indian muslims.

    All the marxist secularism who slept over the Deoband resolution (which prescribes a joyless black world) are now waking up to this Swiz referendum.

  40. 1. Thanks PR.

    2. Banning minarets seems a poor way of tackling salafism /wahhabism. Exporting Indian brand of Islam was one suggestion of Nitin’s long ago. Switzerland should do all it can to encourage the non-extremist strains it has.

    3. Tejal,

    Again, I get you mostly. But “sitting on a ticking time-bomb” with “increase in fundamentalism across the world”, with a *direct reference to IMs*, is patronizing and insulting?

    Exactly what does that imply? If IMs feel threatened, and this can happen from provocation anywhere in the world, Indians in general are “sitting on a time bomb” – is it a misread to say that is a threat to all of us, esp to non-Muslims.

    If I were an IM, I would be very offended by your stance. Am I missing something? This is a very weird defence of Mr.Som’s position.

    Thanks,
    Jai

  41. Tejal wrote,
    “We have the largest diaspora of Muslims living , largely peacefully and well within our country. ”

    India is the ancestral home of Indian muslims and they have the same right to stay here that you have( I’m assuming you are Indian).

    “Any increase in this kind of rabid nationalisitic and ultimately fundamentalist perception across the world, means increasingly that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb in our own home.”

    Jai_C is right. This thread has been extremely illuminating. Some ugly patronizing attitudes are being revealed. And I thought Mr. Som stood isolated.

    “India is in the unique position to demonstrate that it is possible to integrate two diverse cultures.”

    Two diverse cultures? Please elaborate.

    “More importantly, we need to step up and lead the creation of a platform for liberal Muslims to safely express their views and lead positive change within the conservative elements of their own society.”

    Who is “we”? And why should “we”(am I included?) create a platform for liberal muslims? Why is it needed? Are they suppressed? You think this is the Land Of The Pure?

    I apologize if I come across as curt and disrespectful. This topic has been a rude shock to me.

  42. So, Mr. Vishnu, you believe that if a democratic country bans the building of minarets through a vote, it is a “fundamental” threat to Muslim people living thousands of miles away. I would like to know what you think about me, a Hindu who sang “Vandemataram” everyday at the school assembly as a kid, and who still reveres it. I’d like you to tell me what I should make of the Darul Uloom fatwa banning it?

    What prevents me from calling it a fundamental threat to my existence? I’ll tell you. My tolerance towards bullshit, and not my secularism. Secularism was woven into me since I was born. I had friends named Saleem and Rashid. And, I remember all the Id feasts I had with them. And, friends named Andrew and Joseph, with whom I spent many a Christmas Eve, listening to the Three Wise Men stories. I could go on and on like this, and reveal how much of a secularist I am (since it seems to be all the rage these days…with politicos, journos queuing up)

    But, the point is, radical bigotry, be it Darul Uloom’s or of any other right-wing entity, doesn’t touch me, because it’s bullshit, and not because, I’m secular and believe that people have the right to practice their religion. My secularism does not entail me to wave my badge of secularism and try to rake up a fire in my backyard, and then play fireman.

    I’m not scared of terrorists, or right-wing extremists. I’m scared of people like you. I’m scared of people who hide behind the cloak of secularism and snipe at a religion, or prop up another. I pity the day when people like me who have sacrificed much of their strong cultural and religious roots and ethos, to satiate the dream of a secular India, have to hear such blatant opportunistic talk from a wannabe secularist like you.

    Now, coming back to the point of the minaret ban, it was a democratic vote, albeit protectionist. It was their choice, respect it. Respect their sovereignty. At least, they have the balls to take on something they feel strongly about, and don’t hide behind the pillars of morality, or books of rights and wrongs, and blame politicians for their eventual fate.

  43. I just read the article that Nitin linked to at IM. I should have done it a lot earlier.

    The anti-minaret campaign is shocking and very, very disturbing. The fear-mongering and “otherization” attempted in the posters they depict there need to be condemned in absolute terms- no picky-pickyness. Also that article notes difficulties for immigrant Ms in getting citizenship even upto 2 generations down. Didnt even know SUI had this kind of thing going.

    “Fundamental threat to IMs in India” is still overstatement, but let there be no doubt; that’s a nasty outfit there in SUI that got away with what they did.

    Thats it for this thread from me.

    Bye,
    Jai

  44. I do not know how many of you who are arguing about the ban on minarets in swiss know this. The swiss have already banned Muezzin. Meaning, the call for prayer from top of mosques is banned long before. (see)

  45. The root cause for Islamophobia is the regressive anti woman steps such as burkha, polygamy which are still followed by Muslims. Also some barbaric practices such as chopping the hands off etc which are condoned. Once these issues are addressed by the Muslims, I am sure there will be no Islamophobia

  46. Vishnu Som gives a long-winded, meandering response in which … he doesn’t answer Acorn’s question at all! Instead, he question’s the intelligence of all those who disagree with him, because, as he says, “This is as easy to comprehend as it gets.” But, Vishnu Som, doesn’t “see the large majority of writers here able or willing to understand something so basic.” If only his “interrogators” had at least a smidgen of intelligence, they automatically would understand what is obvious to as brilliant a mind as Vishnu Som’s.

    It would appear that the man realised he was peddling the party line handed to him by his employers without having ever inquired into it, and is desperately buying time until he could have a one-on-one with his overlords whereby he could gain the requisite arguments — if any — beyond the usual ‘because’ that they flog to the public.

    Meanwhile, he resorts to the usual “right wing attacks” smear — the refuge of all foot-in-mouth anchors.

    Quite tragic. Reinforces my total avoidance of mainstream TV.

  47. LE

    “On a deviant note, what is the meaning of ‘9 out of 10 Muslims will never set foot out of the country.’
    Am guessing that you have no research to back up this statistic, so can you explain the ‘will never’ in your comment?”

    I appreciate your question: it is important not to accept statements at face value—but put them under scrutiny. (In fact, that what this post is about!)

    In my case, I just made up “9 out of 10” – but even that is very likely to be an overstatement. Out of over 1 billion, only around 10 million Indians travel abroad (2008 figures) — approximately 99 out a 100 Indians didn’t travel. Even this is a proxy measure at best, but the general point is that a lot many Indians don’t travel. Fewer still travel to Switzerland.

  48. Frankly, I think people like Vishnu Som are instigating Islamic radicalism *in India* on the grounds that Muslims elsewhere in the world are allegedly being discriminated against. If prominent (so it is said) members of the Indian media are getting hysterical about the minaret controversy in Switzerland, do we really need mad mullahs to stoke fire among impressionable Muslims? History is witness to the consequences of lobbying for Islamist causes. Gandhi’s Khilafat — a better-intentioned move than the more-loyal-than-the-king exhibitionism of the ‘liberal’ bunch — only ended up in the moplah killings.

    No “nuance” in this. Just a party line.

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