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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2041

The neo-Pharaohs and neo-fascists of our time

By Habib Siddiqui

I don’t know where to begin. In many parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the regimes in power are acting like the Pharaohs of the time of Moses (Musa alayhis salam). They feel no accountability and have no remorse for their criminal activities. National wealth is abused and consumed as personal wealth. Their arrogance and criminality knows no bounds. They have enacted laws (often through kangaroo parliaments, and if need be, via kangaroo courts) to empower them so much that they have become the absolute winners where everyone else loses. Naturally, absolute power has corrupted them absolutely.

To remain in power, the criminal governments, irrespective of being either an illiberal democracy or an autocratic regime, need the full support of their stakeholders. And this they procure through a plethora of measures and incentives including passing on some benefits to the lower rung within the society who are induced into supporting the regime. A sufficient metaphor would be: while the ruling class gets the meat, the bones are left for the lower rung to chew upon! As a matter of fact, it is difficult in our time to rule without sharing some benefits – no matter how little, how small - with those being ruled.

With the uneven and unfair economic system that we have everywhere these days the rich 1% is getting filthy rich, owning or possessing nearly 90-99% wealth of the nation. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the people still remains a viable political force whose potential power to create chaos or disturb the Pharaonic system cannot be ignored. So, much government efforts are directed to keep these induced ‘silent’ majorities in control from becoming either vocal or violent.

Media (including movies, radio and TV programs) that are run, dictated or supported by the regimes in power play a great role to keep the bottom 90% at bay. They are used as pawns to carry out regime’s agenda towards prolonging the life of the neo-Pharaonic regimes of our time. Fortunately, what these neo-Pharaohs often forget is that we are now living in the 21st century when information cannot be fully controlled. There would always be courageous individuals (like Snowden and Manning) to leak out the ugly truth, show the thuggery of the ruling class, and how it spent national wealth want only for vacationing (in places like Bali), or attending meetings (with plane full of sycophants: ‘buddies’ and ‘experts’) overseas. That is why they dislike the bold news media (like Al-Jazeera) that are free from such manipulation.

What bothers me most is the unfathomable, or more appropriately, stupid indifference of the rulers or the ruling class in the Muslim world to the concept of accountability, which is so central in the Qur’an and Hadith literature.

Being a life-long passionate student of comparative religion, I must state that I have not found a religion more explicit on this subject of accountability than Islam. There are numerous Qur’anic verses and hadiths regarding this pointing to the grievous punishment that awaits bad rulers for their failures to safeguard the interest of their subjects – Muslims and non-Muslims alike. [Consider, e.g., hadith in which Muhammad (S) mentions about the severe punishment that awaits the bad leaders and rulers of the community for violating their trust that he had witnessed during his Mi’raj journey.] And yet, some of the worst rulers in our time claim to be Muslims!

Are they reading a different Qur’an than what ordinary Muslims possess? Surely not! Islam has failed to awaken them, and they remain unmindful of their accountability before the creation in this world and before their Lord, God, in the Hereafter. What a loser!

In Hindu-majority India, with Narendra Modi and the BJP in power, under the name of Gau-Raksha (protection of the cow), beef-eaters like Muslims, Dalits and Christians are being lynched to death almost daily.

Barely a month after the 16-year-old Junaid Khan was lynched to death on board the Mathura-bound train when he and his brothers were returning home from Delhi, another incident of violence has surfaced the rounds. A Muslim family of 10 including women, children, elders and a handicapped teenager were assaulted and beaten with iron rods and sticks by a mob on Wednesday evening, reports Times Now.

According to the report, the incident took place on the Shikohabad-Kasganj passenger train when the family was on its way back from attending a marriage ceremony. The family was attacked by a mob of 30-35 people who broke down the emergency window of the train. They hurled abuses at them and screamed 'Kill them. They are Muslims’.

The family members have also accused the mob of groping the women, tearing their blouses and salwars and snatching their jewelry.

In a separate incident, a man was thrashed by locals in Nagpur's Bharsingi area on suspicion of carrying beef on Wednesday. The man claimed that the meat he carried was mutton and not beef. The meat sample has reportedly been sent for forensic analysis.

The attack comes barely two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned violence in the name of cow protection. "Killing people in the name of 'Gau Bhakti' is not acceptable. This is not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve," PM Modi had said during his speech to mark the centenary of the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on June 29.

The important question that begs an answer is what has Mr. Modi done to punish those Hindu terrorists who have been terrorizing minority Muslims in India? Nothing! His bland statement was hardly of any effect as just few hours after his speech two more Muslims were beaten to death in Jharkahnd. BJP president Amit Shah likes to whitewash such crimes by saying that lynching of minority Muslims is not a new phenomenon. He is right. However, how can he explain the data collected by IndiaSpend that shows that in the last 8 years (since 2010), 97 per cent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence — 32 of 63 cases –were from states governed by the BJP when the attacks were reported? How can he ignore what Uma Bharti said? In an interview that she gave after Modi's 2014 victory, she said: "RSS ideology flows through every vein of Narendra-bhai Modi. He is the very embodiment of its ideals, the best vehicle to translate its vision into reality." There lies the main problem: the RSS fascist ideology!

Empty words will not solve the lynching problem faced by the terrorized minorities, but actions would. Thus, it was no accident that recently Bajrang Dal activists dragged Haroon Kasni, a Muslim, out from a mosque in Hisar where he was praying and asked him to raise slogans like Jai Shri Ram and Jai Mata Ki. When he refused to utter such sacrilegious slogans, he was beaten up by the activists. If it had not been for the police presence, he would have been killed.

Remember July 11, 2016? Seven members of a Dalit family in Gujarat were beaten by gau raksha (cow protection) activists for skinning a dead cow on Monday. A part of the incident, where the victims were being attacked with iron rods and sticks, was recorded on video and has been widely shared on social media. So strong was the resolve of the worshippers of the holy cow that “after beating up the family in the village,” reports said, “the accused put four of the victims in a car and drove them to Una town. There, they stripped the four men, paraded them on the streets and hit them in full public view.”

Apoorvanand, a columnist writes, “The flogging and striping and parading of the members of the Sarvaiya family was a real act. Balu, his wife Kunvar, his sons Vasram and Ramesh, relatives Ashok and Bechar and Devarshi Banu are all real people. The attackers are all too real. The village Mota Samadhiyal is not an imagination of a Premchand. How did the nation of India receive this ‘news’? And how did it react? In reading the response, we can see that we do not live on one nation as we would like to believe. A large section of the so-called upper caste people read it as yet another ‘unfortunate’ incident, a small one though.”

He continues, “To be born a Dalit in this country [India] is in itself a curse even in the days when the ruling classes flaunt an unspeaking, smiling, sweet, cute Dalit as their prized possession for the topmost post of this country.”

Lest we forget Modi's Presidential candidate is on record as saying Islam and Christianity are not part of Indian culture. What ignorance! [The fact is that the first encounter of India, esp. Kerala, with these two major religions dates back to the time of their founders.] Similarly, Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has said that the Taj Mahal has nothing to do with "Bharatiya sanskriti" [Indian culture], as he delicately puts it. His Hindu Yuva Vahini chants: "Gorakhpur mein rehna hai toh/ Yogi, Yogi kehna hai" [“If you want to live in Gorakhpur, you must chant Yogi, Yogi (who is a Hindu fascist)”]. Is this not a direct invitation to fascist violence?

What’s happening inside India is the obvious resurgence of Hindu fascist forces that feel empowered to change India irreversibly towards a Hindu Raj denying any rights to its minorities.

In the next-door Myanmar, the minority situation is even worse. There is no moral voice to condemn, let alone stop the genocidal crimes of the Buddhist majority against the unarmed religious minorities. Muslims there, esp., the Rohingyas are the most persecuted people in our planet. In the last few months alone, we have witnessed the burning of Rohingya villages, and heard reliable accounts of rape of their women, arbitrary arrests, harassment, detention and killings of their people to further terrorize this minority community that are already facing famine and starvation. They are denied food aid to reach them. Because of the latest genocidal pogroms, a quarter million Rohingyas remain homeless and many are forced to flee to nearby Bangladesh.

To the hard-core Buddhist leader Suu Kyi and her NLD government, however, such horrendous crimes perpetrated by her government security forces against the victims never happened; it was all fabrication. And, to her, the Rohingyas simply don’t exist. How convenient! With such Nazi-fascist-like denials, she wants to obliterate the history and existence of today’s Rohingya people whose forefathers have lived in the Arakan (today’s Rakhine state) since time immemorial. One can surely smell the rotten skunk hiding under her rug when she bars the UN team to investigate allegations of excess abuses against her security forces and to draw its own conclusions. Why such evasion and mendacity from Suu Kyi if not to stonewall serious accusations from numerous international organizations?

What a monstrosity, and what a denial from a pathological liar that has fooled the civilized world with her smiling face to be undeservedly bestowed with a Nobel Prize for peace!

It is not the terrorist Buddhist monks of Ma Ba Tha, long used by the military for its dirty jobs inside to foment racial and religious hatred against the non-Buddhists, alone that are the faces of Buddhist neo-fascism inside Myanmar today. The sad reality is genocidal crimes against the Muslims and in particular, the Rohingyas, have been a national project for several decades in this Buddhist majority country, which has transformed itself into a den of intolerance and hatred against religious minorities. The transformation is almost complete except that the poor Rohingyas – butchered, burned, maimed and raped - refuse to call it quits and disappear from their ancestral land!

Apparently, the noble teachings of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha have failed to humanize the Buddhists of Myanmar.

In recent months, Europe and the USA had their shares of hate crimes, or more properly terrorism. The latest victims is Bakari Henderson who wanted to snap a selfie with a waitress in Laganas, Greece last week. Minutes later, he was dead. The 22-year-old was enjoying his summer vacation after graduating from the University of Arizona. That trip ended in tragedy after a fight quickly escalated over the selfie request when up to fifteen men, all Serbs, ganged up on Henderson, beating him to death.

One may recall the savagery of the Serbs in their genocidal crimes against the Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan crisis of the early 1990s. The Serbs tarnished the secular image of Europe from which they probably never truly recovered fully, which is demonstrated in their repeated crimes against anyone different to them. The lynching of Bakari underscores that sad reality.

I am truly concerned about the future of our planet where extremist, fascist forces are becoming increasingly powerful and murderous. With their poisonous and non-inclusive ideology they are winning and running many governments in our world making the lives of most minorities unlivable who must emigrate if they want to survive.

When from a station master and his staffers to a nearby post-master, to vendors at the platform, and some 200 people who had gathered at platform number 4 and nobody appeared to have ‘seen anything’ at the Asaoti railway station in Faridabad, India where 16-year old Junaid Khan bled to death after being repeatedly stabbed aboard a local passenger train on Thursday evening of June 22 we have a serious problem that is brewing in India. It is surely not Gandhi’s secularism.

When not a single Buddhist inside Myanmar has the moral prowess to condemn the genocidal crimes of its government against the religious minorities there, we have a serious national problem that cannot be hidden under Suu Kyi’s dirty rug. It is crass Myanmarism. [Interested readers may like to read Dr. Shwe Lu Maung’s books - The Price Of Silence: Muslim-Buddhist War Of Bangladesh And Myanmar - A Social Darwinist's Analysis, and The prima materia of Myanmar Buddhist culture: Laukathara of Rakhine Thu Mrat.]

Fortunately, not all is lost. History has taught us how we can defeat such divisive forces by starting with debunking their twisted ideologies that are utterly evil. Elections alone cannot defeat the neo-fascists; we have to drain the swamp from which they gather their bait.

- Asian Tribune -

The neo-Pharaohs and neo-fascists of our time
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