Islamic Terrorism in India

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The flotilla has nothing to do with the Palestinian people, it is about Turkey becoming a major power in the Middle East

Posted by jagoindia on June 26, 2010

The Palestinian Card

June 08, 2010

You probably think the flotilla is about the Palestinian people. Well, yes and no.

For much of the last six decades, the Palestinian ’cause’ has really been a Palestinian ‘card’ used by regional powers in the region aspiring for pre-eminence in the Middle East. This is the First Law of Middle Eastern Geopolitics-if you want to be the leader of region, you must first show your support for the Palestinian cause by poking Israel in the eye. The Second Law is that once you have played the Palestinian card, you can move on to your real agenda.

Egypt-once the “leader of the Arabs” in the 1960s-fought two wars with Israel before settling for a peace deal in the 1970s. It now gets large sums of money in aid from the United States. Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran then pressed its claims for leadership of the region, and promptly used Syrian and Lebanese proxies to strike Israel. Iran’s Sunni Arab neighbours didn’t like the idea of a radical Shia regime grabbing the mantle of regional leadership and Saddam Hussein stepped up to challenge the Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. He even lobbed several Scud missiles towards the Jewish state, in return for which he received Yasser Arafat’s endorsement. Iraq lost the war. So did the Palestinians actually, who became suspect in the eyes of the Kuwaitis and other Gulf Arab states. With both Iran and Iraq under sanctions in the 1990s, the mantle of leadership of the Middle East fell upon the sophisticated shoulders of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis, unlike previous claimants to Middle Eastern leadership, didn’t launch tanks, proxies or missiles at Israel. Instead they launched a roadmap. It went nowhere-although, as they say in diplomatese, it is still on the table. Meanwhile the Iranians got caught working on a nuclear weapons project. The worried Saudis let it be known that they might not be averse to Israeli jets flying over their airspace just in case, you know, the Israelis want to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. That’s because Riyadh calculates that balancing the Iranians is more important than is midwifing a Palestinian state. Despite appearances and rhetoric, the interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel are aligned over preventing Iran from dominating the region.

Neither Egypt nor Iraq qualify for a place at the top of the Middle Eastern league today. Thanks to the US wars that weakened its two big neighbours, Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran is certainly a contender. So is Saudi Arabia. Last week, Turkey announced that it has joined the race, and, in accordance with the diktats of the First Law, played the Palestinian card. The flotilla was a strategic masterstroke-the moment it set sail, Turkey won and Israel lost. If it had been allowed to pass through, Turkey would be seen has having broken Israel’s will. If the flotilla were stopped, Turkey would be the leader of an international chorus condemning Israel for blockading the Palestinians.

“Turkey,” Samuel Huntington wrote in The Clash of Civilizations, “has the history, population, middle level of economic development, national coherence, and military tradition and competence to be the core state of Islam. In explicitly defining Turkey as a secular society, however, Ataturk prevented the Turkish republic from succeeding the Ottoman empire in that role.” One of the most astute — if controversial-political scientists of the 20th century, Huntington noted that “[at] some point, Turkey could be ready to give up its frustrating and humiliating role as a beggar for membership in the West and to resume its much more impressive and elevated historical role as the principal Islamic interlocutor and antagonist of the West. But to do so it would have to reject Ataturk’s legacy…” This was in 1996, six years before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP) came to power.

The AKP government is indeed engaged in a battle to overturn Ataturk’s legacy-secularism is out, Islamism-of the ‘mild’ variety, we are assured-is in. Military dominance is out, democracy is in. And in foreign policy, alignment with the West is out, neo-Ottomanism is in. Ahmet Davutoglu, political science professor, AKP’s foreign policy strategist and the current foreign minister, believes that Turkey must project power across its traditional sphere of influence. Last year, when the Chinese government cracked down in Xinjiang in the face of unrest between the Uyghur minority and the Han majority, the strongest international condemnation came from Ankara. Turkey has also sought a role in stabilising Afghanistan-Pakistan, ending the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear programme and brokering a deal between Israel & Syria.

Yet it was only when Turkey floated the flotilla to Gaza that people took notice. The successor to the Ottoman empire had announced its arrival. Turkey’s move towards becoming the dominant power in the Middle East is, however, by no means guaranteed. As my colleague V Anantha Nageswaran told me, Western speculators can exploit Turkey’s vulnerable bond and currency markets and bring the country down some notches. There is a small chance that the military-secularist old guard could yet eject the AKP from power. In all likelihood though, Turkey will be an important-if not the most important-player in the Middle East.

The re-emergence of Turkey as a major power offers India the opportunity to balance its relationships with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel. This calls for India to reorient its relationship with Turkey, identify common interests-managing China’s influence in Central Asia, for instance-and convert them into cooperative initiatives. That will also require Turkey to look beyond its relationship with Pakistan. In fact, this is the issue that will answer the big question: is Davutoglu’s neo-Ottomanism merely pan-Islamism or is it about Turkey’s national interests? If it is the former, then Turkey will allow its relationship with India to be constrained by its ties with Pakistan. Not so, if it is the latter.

What about the Palestinians, you ask? Well, it took the Economistall of 74 words to describe the contours of a solution. That solution, which will give the Palestinians their own state, requires both Israelis and the Palestinians to compromise. To be constructive, international intervention must push both sides towards compromise. Demonising one side emboldens the other to be more inflexible than it might otherwise be. Yet that is what the flotillas have done. Turkey got its glory, Israel is in the dock and the United States doesn’t know what to do. The people of Gaza don’t get anything more than schadenfreude.

Do you still think it’s about the Palestinian people?

Nitin Pai is founder & fellow for geopolitics at the Takshashila Institution and editor of Pragati – The Indian National Interest Review, a publication on strategic affairs, public policy and governance. He blogs at The Acorn and is active on Twitter too.

Posted in Islamofascism, Muslims, Palestine, Terrorism, Turkey | Leave a Comment »

Muslim Turkish Girl Buried Alive For Talking To Boys

Posted by jagoindia on February 7, 2010

Turkish girl, 16, buried alive for talking to boys

Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an “honour” killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys.

The girl, who has been identified only by the initials MM, was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-metre hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta, in the south-eastern province of Adiyaman.



A postmortem examination revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been alive and conscious while being buried. Her body showed no signs of bruising.

The discovery will reopen the emotive debate in Turkey about “honour” killings, which are particularly prevalent in the impoverished south-east.

Official figures have indicated that more than 200 such killings take place each year, accounting for around half of all murders in Turkey.

Posted in Islam, Muslims, Turkey | 2 Comments »

When Islamic terror gives notice, how should India react?

Posted by jagoindia on August 2, 2008

When terror gives notice, how should India react?
August 1, 2008, Asian Aage
Balbir K. Punj

In the Turkish capital of Istanbul a strange litigation is underway. The country’s apex court has been asked to look at the constitutionality of the ruling party.  The charge against the ruling party is that it is an Islamic political organisation. Turkey’s Constitution, drafted in the 1930s by the great Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, declares the country a secular one and all religious parties are, therefore, unconstitutional.

Turkey has been able to resist the pan-Islamic tide successfully for over seven decades. Remember that Istanbul was once the capital of the Ottoman empire that followed the Islamic Sharia law to its last letter — amputating hands of anyone found stealing even a loaf of bread. European powers, after Turkey’s defeat in World War I, abolished the Ottoman monarchy. In many Islamic countries this led to the Khilafat movement to restore the decrepit Ottoman emperor who was considered to be the defender of Islamic faith.

In India too this movement flourished, and Mahatma Gandhi supported it without giving a thought to the nature of that monarchy — a medieval, decadent institution that practiced what are, by modern standards, most inhuman and unacceptable laws.

The Khilafat movement was knocked out when the Turks staged a revolution that turned their country away from theocracy and established a modern, secular Constitution that forbade state support to any religion, including Islam. Even wearing of specific religious symbols was forbidden. Turkey, under Kemal Ataturk and his successors, had elected governments and adopted practices of a modern state. From “the sickman of Europe,” Turkey became a modern and liberal outpost straddling two continents across the Bosphorus. It jut out into the heart of a pan-Islamic Middle East with a secular flag.  Turkey now awaits acceptance by European Union as a full-fledged member.

But the pan-Islamic virus that has swept the Islamic crescent from one end to the other has entered Turkey too. The pro-Islamic party, camouflaged as a party of justice, has won elections. And against much secular opposition, their practicing Islamic candidate is now Turkey’s President. Majority of secular Turks, especially in the army and the academia, have questioned the legality of a government that goes against the basic tenets of the country’s Constitution.

But why must I deal with distant Turkey when right at home we have had serial bomb blasts in sensitive and economically important areas, killing at least 50 people and injuring scores of others?

THE FIRST lesson from the serial bombings is that contrary to claims of politicians, the incentive and zeal for practice of terror is pervasive. And that it is extremely well-organised.

No doubt, there is sympathy for pan-Islamism among sections of society. And surely, some among these sympathisers are actively collaborating as “sleeper cells” of organisations which believe that God is on their side in achieving global Islamisation through strategic violence.

If we all agree with this premise, then simple logic tells us that banning a few organisations won’t be enough.

A resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan has been bombing girls’ schools and targeting working women. The Taliban’s target gives away the core belief which drives this pan-Islamism: Islamic orthodoxy is the answer to all ills of the world and that even avowed Islamic countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are not Islamic enough. Research in the last two decades has exposed pan-Islamism’s pathological hatred for any liberal tendency.

This belief stems from the basic view that all that is required to regulate human society is already contained in the Islamic holy book and its adjunct literature like Hadis and Sharia law. The second conviction is that the state exists only to implement what is laid down in these texts, and the third is that these texts are immutable.

From all this follows the verdict that those who seek to change even a comma in these texts are going against the will of the divine as interpreted by the founder of the religion. And that many Islamic countries, especially the ones with elected Parliaments, are lax in their implementation of Islamic laws and must be whipped into shape.

So it is not in Europe and India alone that terror is used by such “faithful”. It is also used in Islamic countries like Indonesia, Egypt and Malaysia.

Obviously, this mindset is fuelled by the politics of blaming the West, especially America, for poverty and hunger. It is also facilitated greatly when political parties in democratic countries support extremist positions.

For instance, when the Left parties backed attacks by Islamic orthodoxy on Taslima Nasreen and drove her out of this country, even fence-sitting Muslims would have been convinced that the extremists are winning. Or when the Supreme Court verdict on Shah Bano case was reversed.

Al Ummah, an extremist organisation in south India, received sympathies from some “secular” political parties when police arrested their supporters after the Coimbatore serial blasts and the recent discovery of their plan to cause mayhem in Chennai.

When the Kerala extremist leader Mahadhani was acquitted by a lower court in the Coimbatore serial blasts case, the Congress party shamefully competed with the Left to organise a public welcome for him. And the DMK government in Tamil Nadu has not taken any steps to challenge his acquittal in a higher court. Surely we know that such actions not only strengthen extremists, but also garner more support for pan-Islamism.

The demand for stricter laws against Islamic extremism is not a communal one. If Islamic countries themselves are hard on terror merchants of all hues, then why should others lag behind? Why should we allow them to breed more sleeper cells to plant bombs?

It is equally important to focus on and try to alter the “fundamentalist” mindset that engulfs sections of some communities and encourages self-righteousness to the point of justifying killing those who do not fall in line.

The Indian state has been lax on both these fronts. And this negligence has led not just to the serial bomb blasts, but also the audacity of terrorists to dare the Indian state with advance notice of more bomb blasts.

Our political parties only seem eager to hand-hold violent protestors against a cartoon in an obscure magazine in Denmark and to drive out Taslima Nasreen for exposing some unflattering aspects of an Islamic society.

If even the horrifying bloodletting on our streets doesn’t teach India a thing or two, then we should take our cue from the enlightened Turks.

Posted in India, Islamofascism, Terrorism, Turkey | Leave a Comment »