Terror, Detentions, Ghalib and SRK

Since 9/11 and United State’s war on terror after that, people having Muslim names being detained and questioned for hours at American airports has become a regular process. Common people are detained on a regular basis without the media or other agencies taking a note of their detention. But when the big shots and the celebrities are detained, all hell breaks up.

 “Before his detention, a few months back, India’s Ambassador to US Nirupama Rao was also detained for wearing a Sari. A couple of years back, India’s missile man and the former President, A P J Abdul Kalam was humiliatingly searched by the officials belonging to a US’ airlines.”

Last week, Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan was detained at the New York airport for about two hours because his name resembled to some of the terror suspects on US terror watch list. After much hue and cry and direct involvement of the US Indian High Commission and the Vice Chancellor of Yale University where the actor was going to address the students, he was freed. The Indian foreign minister, S M Krishna was fuming about this act of the US’ immigration officials. He even went on to say that a mere apology is not going to serve any good as it’s the second time SRK has been detained.

In its war against terror, US has gone very far in stereotyping people adhering to a particular religious ideology viz, Islam as being terrorists or the ones who sympathize the terrorists. This policy of the United States has been backfiring and the result of that can be witnessed on the streets of the Muslim world where the anger against America and its foreign policy is at an all time high. One of the main reasons behind this stereotyping of the Muslims is also the least interest which the people of the West, especially the leaders, used to have in the knowing about the history of the Muslim world and the people out there. They have always been much more interested in the natural resources of the Middle East. This parasitic foreign policy has always been acting as a main reason behind such anger towards the West, especially America.

This West needs to change its mentality. The detention of SRK is just the tip of the iceberg. Before his detention, a few months back, India’s Ambassador to US Nirupama Rao was also detained for wearing a Sari. A couple of years back, India’s missile man and the former President, A P J Abdul Kalam was humiliatingly searched by the officials belonging to a US’ airlines. If high level dignitaries like them can go through such type of humiliating experiences then what about the common man who is stopped and asked idiotic questions like- “Do you know how to make a bomb?”

Shah Rukh Khan said at the University of Yale, “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always make a trip to America”, and that said it all.

The majority of Muslims around the world are not sympathizers of radical Islam and are equally disturbed by the way Al Qaeda and it’s sister organizations are busy in portraying Islam as a religion of violence . But that is not going to stop them from hating the double standard policies of US when it comes to countering terror. The victimization of innocents in badlands of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan is something which has alienated the Muslims from the US. It is true that US was deeply hurt when terror came knocking right at the centre of Manhattan but the US’s response has complicated its mission against terror.

The Indian government which got fumed over the detention of the actor ignored another act of prejudice done by it’s own security officials a few days ago, when in order to extend the ban on the organization SIMI (Students Islamic movement of India), which is accused of playing a hand behind many of the bomb blasts, the Maharashtra police used a couplet of the greatest Urdu poet, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib on a piece of paper as a proof that SIMI is into the business of mass violence. Of the several affidavits filed in court asking for the ban on the group and according to a news report by Iftekhar Jeelani in DNA, one of the affidavits by inspector Shivajirao Tambare of Vijapur Naka, Solapur, cites a Ghalib verse as part of evidence to show how dangerous SIMI is.

“Mauje khoon ser se guzer hi kiyon na jay, Aastane yaar se uth jaein kaya!”

A loosely translated Marathi version in the affidavit concludes that these lines speak of bloodshed and animosity. But in fact, these lines have positive meanings and they are “Whatever be the circumstances, we will not leave the place (country or home of the beloved) even if our heads are chopped off”.  While turning in his grave, Ghalib must have said, “Hue hum jo mar ke ruswa, hue kyun na gharq e dariya… Na Kabhi janaza uthta, na kahin mazaar hota” (Disgraced as I have been after my death, why didn’t I drown in a river /There would not have been a funeral nor a tomb anywhere).

Syed used to work with the Hindustan Times, Delhi till 2010 December and then he took a sabbatical for academic purposes which continues till date. Currently pursuing his masters in Peace and conflict studies with Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, Syed has studied journalism from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi.

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