Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

, and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their populations. While the plight of Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent of a expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP sees itself as Hindu and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the . Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the , Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this , I pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how , geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian with the whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

is , that this image could apply to just about every religion on . As a rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it . Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of because of their religious , Muslims in like Bangladesh, , Afghanistan, Malaysia and are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere of belonging to a religious identity does not in , confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is because it disproves the notion held by every religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the of Hinduism from a passive into an openly militant gives an important into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a ’s notice in justification of anything at

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono- state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic , and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British , and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which Modi belongs to) is something done in to environmental factors. like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval turned into colonial and European transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is to the and circumstances of their and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these .

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except

While has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the , they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous and international influence that , Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such , the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good .

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap for and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special to repatriate the dissident Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South , but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a when they are heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of by liberalising their society and , does it pay them to into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the of their diplomatic relationship with the . remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned is the basis of the considerations that underpin all . Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except countries.” It is only countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a luminary, and generally has little fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from lingo, could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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