Feb. 6, 2006, three Pakistanis died in Peshawar and Lahore during violent street protests against Danish cartoons that had satirized the Prophet Muhammad. More such mass protests followed weeks later. When Pakistanis and other Muslims are willing to take to the streets, even suffer death, to protest an insulting cartoon published in Denmark, is it fair to ask: Who in the Muslim world, who in Pakistan, is ready to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai?I happen to be in full agreement with Friedman here. When the siege ended on Saturday at least 188 had been killed and more than 300 injured. 28 of the dead were foreigners, including at least six Americans and eight Israelis killed at a Hasidic Chabad.
After all, if 10 young Indians from a splinter wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party traveled by boat to Pakistan, shot up two hotels in Karachi and the central train station, killed at least 173 people, and then, for good measure, murdered the imam and his wife at a Saudi-financed mosque while they were cradling their 2-year-old son — purely because they were Sunni Muslims — where would we be today? The entire Muslim world would be aflame and in the streets. [More here]
The earliest reports of solidarity with the innocent in Mumbai and outrage at the attacks came from the US and UK. Sadly, there was little public outrage and official indignation expressed, least of all from Pakistan, India’s traditional foe.
I scoured online news portals to see if the horrific killings also occasioned official condemnation from Muslim governments. Any mass protests at terrorists who ‘hijacked’ a purportedly peaceful religion and shamed its adherents? Or are people no longer expected to condemn unmitigated evil if it is visited upon those who do not share their values and faith?
Well, there was the obligatory statement from Iran which I thought sounded hollow. Fortunately I stumbled upon this, a piece by Sultan Al Qassemi who is a businessman in Dubai:
It is not enough for moderate Muslims to be revolted by the attacks in Mumbai as we have been revolted by the attacks on the New York office towers, Amman wedding, London transport system, Madrid trains, Beslan school, Jerusalem pizzeria, Baghdad markets and numerous other places. It is time to take a serious stand against these perpetrators and reclaim our religion. [More here]I say it's time to move beyond rhetoric.
The other article that caught my eye reported the resignation of India's security minister. Cabinet Minister Shivraj Patil took responsibility for failing to thwart or contain the killings, and stepped down in disgrace. Admirable!