In the post below John asks in connection with yesterday’s bombings in India what Islamist terrorists have against the Hindus. Professor Dilip Balamore explains:
I found this a slightly amusing rhetorical question. My Pakistani students, here in New York, are not averse to telling me (a presumptive Hindu) that the reason for all the attacks on the Hindus, in India, is because India really belongs to them. India would, they say, have become a model Islamic country had “those British bastards” not restored it to the Hindus. Then, there is always the never ending Kashmir question which seems to be at the heart of Pakistani identity, but it is not clear whether Indian Muslims (as opposed to Pakistani Muslims) want Kashmir to be turned over to Pakistan. It is however sufficient reason to set off bombs, in Hindu temples, while they are deciding on the exact course of action. If these are not sufficient reasons, it is always possible to find others.
A decade ago, on one of my very rare visits to the Motherland, I stayed with my Muslim uncle-by-marriage, in Madras. Not only was the food better in his house, he was also the Noblest Indian of them all, with an intellectual honesty and a charity towards all that I have not met in any other. I had a number of long discussions with him regarding the differences in the legal doctrines of India and the US, since he had been the Advocate General of Tamilnadu for some time, and, of course, we talked about the Hindu – Muslim problem. He told me of his ongoing efforts within his community to persuade radicals that Indian Muslims ought regard themselves as Indians first. He remarked that when dispirited by the slowness of progress, he had often had to recapitulate and reiterate his vision of India as a wise nation tolerating various religions, and with a multitude of languages and literatures. That vision had been inspired by having met Gandhi, as a boy, and had been shaped by the great man’s ideas. My uncle’s son, on the other hand, was quite a Muslim firebrand, and was eager to indulge in religiously divisive talk and actions. He was horrified that I had spent a day walking the streets of Madras (now Chennai) and told me sternly that he could have given me a car with a driver, to keep me off the crowded sidewalks. “You actually walked amongst the people?” he asked, “Amongst all those Hindus who worship idols? You don’t know this place