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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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Press comments on the reasons for the London blasts of July 2005 and the widespread arson in France in September-October have almost unanimously concluded that the alienation of the young Muslim Britishers and Frenchmen was the major factor in creating conditions which led some members of their community to succumb to the persuasion of Islamic extremists or to vent their frustrations and anger by burning cars or indulging in other violent acts. Unsatisfactory living conditions, denial of equal opportunity in the matter of employment, and racist behavior of authorities were cited as the main reasons underlying the explosive discontent which was aggravated by the perceived anti Islam policies of the two governments. Remedial measures suggested included removal of the grievances of the disaffected youth, closer interaction between the government and the minorities and promoting the integration of the Muslim minorities with the rest of the society. According to most commentators it was the sins of omission and commission of the two governments that led to the unfortunate developments in their respective countries.

Like most analyses, there is some truth in the above diagnosis. It is also apparent that most commentators are keen to be seen as being liberal, sympathetic and sensitive to the problems of the underprivileged. There seems however a tendency to avoid discussing the real issues perhaps due to the fear of being labeled Islamophobes or in any way contributing to the aggravation of the existing interfaith tensions. It is however obvious that before thinking of finding a solution it is essential to understand and examine dispassionately, clinically all aspects of the problem.

Muslim Immigrants in France
Even though the young men who went on a three week long car burning spree across France happened to be the offspring of North African Muslim Arab immigrants most reports took care to emphasize that Islam was not the force driving the arsonists. The French Government’s prolonged failure to address the problems of these young men condemned to live in suburban ghettoes without employment and subjected to harassment by the police capped by Interior Minister Sarkozy’s insulting remarks was said to be the actual cause of the violence. It was later learnt that the London based Islamist organization Hizb ut Tahrir quickly realized the opportunity of radicalizing the French Muslim youth and sent their experts to France to inflame the passions and to prolong the rioting .The Pakistani LET(LASHKAR-e-TAIBA) is also believed to have extended its help.

Whereas the French authorities blithely believed that all its citizens enjoyed equal rights and that social homogeneity should not be allowed to be disrupted by the display of religious symbols like the hijab by students, the British prided on their multiculturism and in fact went to the other extreme of allowing radical Muslim clerics to openly preach holy war against Britain, allowing Islamic terrorists to use UK as their base and to raise funds and gather recruits and refusing to extradite terrorists wanted for crimes in other countries. Most Britons were therefore shocked to learn that the London blasts

were not the handiwork of some Arab, Afghan or Pakistani terrorists but of their own countrymen. They were shocked even further by the results of a survey commissioned by the Daily Telegraph which revealed that a sizeable section of British Muslims were not loyal to Britain and almost a third felt that the British society was decadent and immoral and should be brought to an end.

Neither the French insistence on homogeneity nor the extreme permissiveness of the British was successful in integrating the descendants of Muslim immigrants in the civil societies of the two countries. Taking the case of France it could be argued that it was the environment in which they lived that prevented the young beurs from being assimilated. But assuming that the French government could some how find the resources to provide housing of acceptable standards and resort to affirmative action to improve the employment prospects of the disaffected youth, would the problem be solved? If one goes a little deeper one would see that the situation in which the rioting youth found themselves resulted not solely because of Government’s malfeasance. The angry young men had at least some kind of housing, had the opportunity to educate themselves and enjoyed adequate unemployment benefits. It is not known whether they strove as hard to improve their lot as other immigrant children

Immigrants, as a rule, have to work much harder than normal to establish themselves in their new environment. Regrettably, but understandably, their presence is not liked by those sections of the host society who feel their job prospects threatened or who find the social norms or practices of the newcomers repugnant. Sometimes they may be disliked on account of their ethnicity, colour or for no reason other than their mere presence. The resentment of the hosts, subterranean or open, can find expression in many forms. This is a risk that all those who seek a better future in a new country have necessarily to face. The approbation or at least the acceptance of the host society often comes only after many years of stoic patience. The merit of the immigrants’ achievements and behavior and the realization that the immigrants are making a useful contribution to the overall well being of the host society facilitates the process. It seems that the disaffected Arab- French either failed to acquire the knowledge and skills which would have caused the employers to hire them or displayed some other weaknesses which caused the host society to shun them. Could it be that their religious background made a difference?

Dr.Farrukh Saleem’s Analysis
In a recent article entitled “What Went Wrong” in the Pakistan Daily “Jung”, Dr, Farrukh Saleem highlighted the under achievement of Muslims of the world. According to the facts quoted by Dr. Saleem the 1.4 billion Muslims constitute 22 per cent of the world’s population. They are in a majority in fifty-seven countries including some with vast resources of oil but the combined GDP of these countries is less than 5 per cent of the world total and that percentage is falling. Sixty percent of the Muslims are illiterate. Out of the eight poorest countries in the world six happen to be Muslim majority countries. Among the world’s

Muslims the Arabs are particularly worse off. Dr. Saleem concludes that Muslims are the poorest of the world’s poor. Apparently in spite of changing their habitat the offspring of North African Arab Muslims have not been able to rise above the condition of their brethren in the countries of their ancestors.

The case of Britain’s Muslims serves to illustrate the other aspect of the problem. The British government could certainly not be accused of being discriminatory in the matter of the welfare of its Muslim citizens or of being insensitive towards their religious susceptibilities. But the British Muslims or at least a substantial proportion of them did not develop any feelings of loyalty towards their adopted country nor do they look kindly towards the British civil society. Britain has immigrants of many ethnic and religious backgrounds but the alienation it seems is most pronounced in case of Muslims while immigrants professing other faiths seem to be getting along without any serious problems.

Islamic Conditioning
Why Muslim immigrants react so differently towards the countries of their adoption can be understood only by realizing the powerful hold that their faith exercises on its followers. Islam starts with the emphatic assertion that the “Qur’an” is the word of God revealed through Prophet Muhammad .The first obligation of every Muslim is to swear fealty to Allah and to His Messenger by reciting the SHAHADA (la ilah illillah, Muhammad ur rasulallah) . Unbelief in the teachings of the Qur’an is sin (Kufr). And the Qur’an declares that Islam is the only true religion all others being in error. All the Muslims of the world are supposed to be members of one community –the UMMAH. Further all the Muslims are enjoined to strive in the way of Allah. Broadly speaking, Islam divides human beings into three categories--(1) Muslims, (2) other people of the Book viz. the Jews and the Christians, and (3) the rest including Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians, pagans, atheists etc. Each category is to be treated according to the injunctions of the holy book. The world is also divided into two parts; (1) DARUL ISLAM (the domain of peace)---where Islam prevails and (2) DARUL HARB (the domain of war) where Islam does not prevail.

Another important factor binding the Muslims together is their pride in the historical achievements of Islam. The period of the Prophet and the first four Caliphs is regarded as Islam’s golden age but the splendours of the empires of the Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphs and of the Ottoman, Persian and Mughal dynasties also evoke nostalgic memories.

Largely because of the rigorous commitment that Islam demands of its adherents setting them apart from their fellow citizens of different religious persuasions most Muslims tend to think of themselves as Muslims first and foremost. They can also be easily aroused by calls to protest against the perceived wrongs done to their religion or to their coreligionists (by non Muslims) in any part of the world. Left to themselves the common Muslims too are happy to confine their religious observances to the bare essentials of their religion viz. prayer, fasting in the month of Ramzan and rituals connected with birth, marriage, death etc. The feelings of Islamic solidarity are particularly strong among those who have more than a rudimentary knowledge of the religion or who take their Islam more seriously.

Recent Trends
Pristine Islam’s unquestionable doctrines of its own superiority as a faith and the infallibility and immutability of the Quranic injunctions (including those regarding people of other faiths), and the absolute obedience that Islam demands of its followers, seems to leave little room for the integration of Muslims in any multi-denominational society. Some Islamic sects like the Sufis are more tolerant and therefore more likely to accept harmonious relations with people of other faiths but they seem to be in retreat under the onslaughts of the revivalists who consider the Sufis as heretics.

Nothing can illustrate the problem of integration of Muslim minorities better than the case of Indian Muslims most of whom are converts from Hinduism and still retain some of their pre-conversion baggage. In spite of centuries of living peacefully with the majority Hindus, they have steadfastly maintained their Muslim identity. The enactment of a Civil Code uniformly applicable to all Indian citizens, provided for in the Indian Constitution, seems now impossible. Even a century old provision in the Criminal Procedure Code ensuring the payment of maintenance to divorced women was changed when Muslims of all political parties forgot their differences and agitated to have the provision repealed on the ground that it was un-Islamic. More recently, the tide of Islamic revivalism, led by Salafist organizations and fed by petro dollars is sweeping India too. Increasing numbers of Indian Muslims are seen to be observing the norms prescribed by the traditionalists in the matter of dress. Even in the domain of redress of crimes Muslims are seen to be going to shariat courts and the Maulanas are readily giving out fatwas on matters varying from rape of daughters-in-law to the dress to be worn by tennis players.

Is there any hope for improvement? Dr. Farrukh Saleem (quoted earlier) ends his piece as follows;

“ Diagnosis 1. Muslims are poor, illiterate and weak because we have abandoned the divine heritage of Islam. Prescription …We must return to our real or imagined past.

Diagnosis 2. Muslims are poor, illiterate and weak because we have refused to change with time.
(Prescription?) Keep pace with time –al Quran”



The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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