Monday, October 27, 2014

Expert objects to new Love Jihad formula, says pro-Modi campaigner Madhu Kishwar is legitimizing it

Nivedita Menon
By Our Representative
Noted feminist and political scientist Nivedita Menon has said that far-right Hindutva groups, caught on the back foot by the humiliating backfire in their fantastical Meerut claims of ‘gangrape and forcible conversion’, have arrived at a new formula: That the anxiety over ‘Love Jihad’ has also been expressed by the Church in Kerala and the Akal Takht, hence “there must be some fire generating all the smoke.” Menon adds, the votaries of the new formula – who include feminist-turned-pro-Narendra Modi campaigner Madhu Kishwar -- claim that as the dangers from Love Jihad are real, quoting investigations by police and court directions.
Interestingly, according to the expert, who is professor at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, this “new formula” has no objection to inter-faith marriage; what it objects to “is the cheating of Hindu women into marriage in a well orchestrated campaign by Muslim men who trap them in polygamous marriages only to convert them and produce several children, thus raising the Muslim population.” Apart from Kishwar, who seeks to provide some respectability to Love Jihad, the formula “has found its space in the social media as well as in personal blogs”, Menon adds.
The votaries of the new Love Jihad formula believe, it is just one small part of the “global Islamic terror machine” whose aim includes using non-Muslim women as sex slaves. Not without reason, while Kishwar wants Love Jihad to be “freed from the clutches of rabble-rousers claiming to speak on behalf of Hindutva”, such as “hysteria-mongers like Yogi Adityanath and outfits like the Bajrang Dal”, she does not doubt its existence.
Menon quotes Kishwar to prove her point: “We need to rise above the left-right divide to investigate this menace with thorough precision. Only then will we know the extent of the threat, whether it is real or phobic.” Wonders Menon, “How could Kishwar term something ‘a menace’ and talk about ‘the extent of the threat’ even before finding out whether it is real at all or merely a ‘phobic fantasy’?”
The professor comments, “The ‘phobic fantasy’ of patriarchal elements across the religious spectrum that is not a fantasy at all is this – young men and women are falling in love, across caste and religious divides, and this is rocking the foundations of caste and religious identity. Muslim parents are as worried and anxious about this as are Christian and Hindu parents. They don’t want their daughters marrying non-Muslims any more than the latter want Muslim in-laws.”
The expert observes that even “the left is not immune from mean-minded political calculations on this matter”. She quotes CPI-M leader VS Achuthanandan, who said in 2010, talked of how Muslim numbers in Kerala were multiplying “by influencing youth of other religions and converting them by giving money, marrying them to Muslim women and thus producing kids of the community.” Menon suggests, Kishwar has taken advantage of this statement by saying, “The situation must have been grave if the then chief minister of Kerala VS Achuthanandan, of the CPM, alleged conversion of non-Muslim girls to Islam…”
Madhu Kishwar
Pointing out that “men promising marriage and backing out is routine, and by no means restricted to Muslim men/non-Muslim women”, Menon says, “The funnier part of Kishwar’s assertion is her reference to the Akal Takht taking seriously reports that Pakistani youth are seducing non-Muslim girls to convert them to Islam and ‘use them in jihadi activities’.” According to Kishwar “some of these girls were later dumped by their husbands in Pakistan, where their in-laws have been using them as domestic slaves.”
Menon comments, “That sounds pretty much like a routine marriage to me -- men marrying women to act as domestic slaves for their families while they earn their livelihoods (and often carry on in other relationships) abroad. Want to do a survey of how many marriages like this exist across the spectrum of religious identity? And supposing these wives/domestic slaves were Muslim rather than non-Muslim, Kishwar would think its fine? Probably she would, because she also holds that elopements are not okay, and that marriage without the ‘blessings of family elders’ is to be avoided.”
Suggesting that Love Jihad in any form is nothing but an electoral plank of supporters of India’s ruling establishment, and communal hatred is sought to be spread ahead of elections, Menon says, this is what is happening in the national capital too, as “Delhi elections loom”. According to her, “Trilokpuri burns, as doubtless, will many other parts of Delhi. The role of Hindutvavaadi organizations is again clear in setting up an atmosphere of tension and violence.”

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