Islamic liberalism under fire in India

Martha C. Nussbaum in the Boston Review:

Nussbaum As it became clear that Pakistani Muslims perpetrated the horrendous terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November, many feared a wave of violence against India’s own Muslim community. The community, which represents 13.4 percent of Hindu–majority India, suffers from poverty and systemic discrimination, as the government’s recent Sachar Commission report documents. It has also been targeted by the Hindu right, which, in 2002, murdered as many as 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, in the state of Gujarat.

That violence, like the violence of Hindu–right mobs against Christians in the eastern state of Orissa in 2008, surely deserves the name of “terrorism.” Yet, in India as elsewhere, the word “terrorism” is now frequently confined to the actions of Muslims, and Muslims are suspects almost by virtue of their religion alone. There was reason, then, to fear that mobs would take the Mumbai blasts as the occasion for a renewed assault on an already beleaguered minority.

This assault did not materialize—largely because India’s Muslim community strongly condemned the terrorist acts and immediately took steps to demonstrate its loyalty to the nation. Muslim cemeteries refused burial to the perpetrators. Muslims wore black armbands on Eid, showing solidarity with mourners of all religions and nationalities. The world saw a deeply nationalist community, one loyal to the liberal values of a nation that has yet to treat it justly.

More here.