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Opinion

This vicious circle must end – editorials

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In recent days, two incidents have come to light, highlighting the dangers of minority extremism. Waris Pathan, leader of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) from all over India, said that “[we may be] Rs 15 million [150 million]but weigh 100 million rupees [1 billion]”I was suggesting that Muslims may prevail over Hindus, in what can only be interpreted as a threat. Second, in a demonstration against the Citizenship Law (Amendment), or the AAC, in Bangalore, in the presence of the leader of AIMIM Asaduddin Owaisi, a young activist chanted “Pakistan Zindabad.” Any citizen has the right to freedom of expression, and the sedition charges against him seem excessive, but the political context made it appear that he was supporting Pakistan against India, although, later, he raised the slogan “Hindustan Zindabad.” These incidents occurred a few weeks after Sharjeel Imam suggested that Muslim protesters should isolate Assam from the rest of India.

To his credit, Owaisi condemned the statement of the woman activist. Also, in all his criticisms of the CAA, he has spoken the language of constitutionalism (although he has not publicly commented on Pathan’s statement). In Shaheen Bagh, which has symbolically emerged as the key site of the anti-CAA protest, the Tricolor, the Constitution, the national anthem and the national icons have been repeatedly invoked. Muslim protesters have often condemned community rhetoric. In fact, it is this approach that has given Muslim-dominated protests an inclusive character and neutralized any criticism that these protests are “anti-national” or “communal.”

This newspaper has constantly criticized the comments of the majority community leaders that are divisive and border on hate speech. The same principle applies to those of the minority community. If there are complaints, Indian democracy, through elections, constitutional rights and independent institutional mechanisms, provides ways to articulate them. In fact, it is these rights that have allowed the protests to continue. But as soon as leaders or activists turn their complaints into open threats, incite violence or suggest coercive tactics, it is unacceptable and deserves to be condemned. As soon as the activists protest about India-Pakistan, they lose the moral ground. Majority communalism is dangerous; but minority extremism is so dangerous. India needs to get away from this vicious circle.

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