Breeding grounds for suicide bombers

Date: 7/9/2005


Breeding grounds for suicide bombers/// TAVLEEN SINGH/// Posted online: Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 0000 hours IST /// With Ayodhya on my mind I sat down to write a piece on how Islamic terrorism will not be defeated until we deal with the mullahs and madrasas who breed the suicide bombers and Islamic fundamentalists. /// I was still writing it when London exploded. This was not some distant horror but deeply personal since I have a son who lives in that city. He could have been on the bus, on the underground or just walking down a street. When I tried desperately to call him I found it impossible to get through and thought of all the others who might be trying as desperately to call a loved one and those who may have lost sons, brothers, sisters, parents, friends just because Islamic fundamentalists believe terrorism is their sacred duty./// Tony Blair called the acts of terrorism in London ''barbaric'' and said that the terrorists would not succeed because the civilised world was more determined to defend ''our values and our way of life'' than the terrorists are to cause death and destruction. But, they will succeed because no Western leaders and certainly not our own ''secular'' lot have shown any determination when it comes to dealing with the mullahs and the venomous ideology they preach through Islamic seminaries. /// On the flight to Gleneagles for the G8 Summit, the day before the bombings in London, our Prime Minister was asked about the terrorist attack in Ayodhya and he reportedly admitted that ''the infrastructure for terrorism (in Pakistan) is by and large intact''. By this he meant that terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad continue to have the General's support? They probably do but this is not nearly as important as the fact that neither the Indian government nor Pakistan's military dictator have dared interfere in the religious schools. /// The madrasas. /// The young men and women who are blowing themselves up are trained not by terrorist groups but by mullahs and Islamic seminaries and until we acknowledge this we cannot win the war against terrorism. That the madrasas in Pakistan have the support of the Pakistani government is understandable since Pakistan is an Islamic republic. Much less understandable is our own government's inability to admit that religious schools have no business to exist in secular Bharat that is India. And, please, let us not have any trash about how these madrasas are the only chance for indigent Muslim boys to get an education. /// Islamic seminaries in India have so much money these days that they have finer buildings and grander facilities than most Indian universities. I speak not just of important seminaries like the one in Deoband but of unknown ones in the deepest, darkest corners of rural India./// In Maharashtra's Nandurbar district in the town of Akalkuwa, where I went last year to do a story on children dying of starvation, the finest building in town is the Islamic seminary. In small villages in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh you will see mosque schools that have better facilities than the local municipal school./// Whenever these schools have been charged with breeding fanatics and suicide bombers they protest that all they do is teach the Koran. What can possibly be wrong with that? A great deal if we are politically incorrect enough to admit that teaching children only about Islam creates in them a sense of exclusivity. When a child is taught that there is nothing better or more important than Islam then by the time he becomes a teenager it is easy to persuade him to kill himself because Islam is in danger from infidel Westerners, hateful Jews and idol-worshipping Hindus./// When Dr Manmohan Singh said Pakistan's ''infrastructure'' of terrorism was intact I wonder if he knew about the convocation in Islamabad on May 15 of the Wafaqul Medaris Al Arabia, a coalition of more than 9,000 Deobandi seminaries. I would not have known about it myself were it not for the South Asia Intelligence Review that is brought out by the excellent South Asia Terrorism Portal. The review reports that the convocation, held at a government convention centre, brought together thousands of Deobandi clerics and sundry other fanatics like the infamous former ISI chief, Hamid Gul, and a man of more recent notoriety, Pakistan's Information Minister and Yaseen Malik's best friend, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed./// At this convocation jehad was glorified, America attacked and Kashmir's ''freedom movement'' supported. Among the most interesting comments came from Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman, one of the Taliban's spiritual leaders. He said, ''Politics is the governance of a society the rules of which were set by Koran and propounded by the Holy Prophet. Therefore the Prophet was the greatest politician and statesman. Muslims are bound to follow him in all respects of life. Since the mullahs are the true disciples of the Prophet, politics is their religious right. And by doing politics, the mullahs are carrying forward the Prophet's mission.''/// The Prophet's mission, as interpreted by the mullahs, also involves converting us infidels to the faith because otherwise we are a constant threat to Islam. This is where the problem begins. /// If the mullahs used the religious seminaries to teach love and peace and respect for other people and religions, Muslims would find it easier to live with the rest of the world. But, they teach jehad and bigotry and it is from these teachings that Islamic terrorism is born. In India, if we want to tackle the problem we could begin by demanding a White Paper from the government on how many madrasas exist on our secular soil, when they were built and where they get their funds from. I am willing to bet that most have come up in the past 15 years and that the money comes from the same Middle Eastern countries that funded last week's bombings in London and 9/11. As long as we pretend that this is not true we remain in danger of losing the war against terrorism./// ........................000000000