The view from Dehli

Holey Artisan Bakery

This fourth of July I found myself in India for the IESE Alumni Association and was struck by a column in the Times of India by Santosh Desai, an Advertising executive, about the atrocity committed in the name of Islam in Bangladesh over the weekend. A restaurant which was popular with an international and young crowd, the Holey Artisan Bakery was targeted and any one who could not recite from the Koran was murdered.

20 Killed in Bangladesh

While the attack in Dhaka was not the only one over the last few days around the world, it has dominated the news here in Dehli as the two cities are only 1,800 km apart, have long historical ties, a young, local woman was among the victims. Another aspect of the attack is that it may have involved a group which is reported in the Times Of India to receive funding from the ISI which is the intelligence service of Pakistan.

India has been the target of well armed and coordinated terrorists which operate from safe havens across the border and is very sensitive to the issue. According to a European diplomat, India always sees Pakistan behind every act of terrorism and Pakistan has vigorously denied any involvement.

In his column, Desai makes the point that the terror threat is expanding across the world and threatens the very fabric of the global society in which we live. His point is that if we collectively choose to respond to the threat with fear of people unlike ourselves and try to protect our society through increased security and xenophobic policies we will end up destroying that which we are trying to protect.

Fareed Zakaria

CNN is currently airing a segment by Fareed Zakaria titled “Why They Hate Us” and has published a column which is based on the concluding remarks in the program. Zakaria is an author who focusses on political and geo-political issues and argues that the issue is not about the west versus islam but about a current in Islam which wants society to go backward and is fighting against modernization.

It seems that a number of the murderers in Dhaka were well educated sons of elite families and one of their fathers is even a member of Parliament. One question is how can these barbaric, 14th century ideas appeal to these young men in their late teens and twenties? Another is what can we (both Islam and the West) do to stop them?

Muslims as targets?

In a crime whose motives are unclear, an eye Doctor in Houston was shot and stabbed on his way to mosque on Sunday. As discussed in a post a few weeks ago, calling out any group as the “bad guys” is an irresponsible and dangerous idea. There are approximately 3.3 million muslims in the United States and to collectively blame them for crazy acts goes against everything the U.S. stands for.

There are more than 130 million muslims in India and they make up 14% of the population. In the Indian press there was nothing about Islam being the problem. It was all about ISIS and their crazy offshoots and likeminded groups.