For last week or so, New York Times has been desperately seeking first hand account of those who were in Inter-faith relations in India. A news medium is usually supposed to pursue the news, not create them. In this case, NYT first made up its mind that it needs to write on Inter-faith marriages in India and somehow create a narrative how poor and innocent Muslim men are falling prey to the belligerent, bigoted Hindus who are not allowing their women live with those they love. Having decided the line of argument, they set about creating the articles and two initial Essays have come up- Are You in an Interfaith Relationship in India? and another How New Laws Across India are Seeking to Ban All Interfaith Marriages, both published on the same day, linked to one another.
As they had put the cart before the horses, it is no wonder that the carriage tumbled the moment it started moving. Incidentally, it seems those who run things at New York Times that a spate of articles, suddenly coming out from a Global Media house would raise eyebrows. More so, when we look at the media house which routinely calls the Indian government for its Hindu hues in a Hindu majority secular nation as Militant Hindu Nationalist Government, while at the same time celebrates the current US President taking oath on a Bible,
one knows that the idea driving these pieces is not a scholarly curiosity. There is a zealot's view of a foreign faith cleverly hidden in the pretence of a progressive idea. The premise on which the essay is based on the recent case of Sikh girl rescued by the Sikhs from conversion in Kashmir by Sikh leaders. This article is written by Two muslim journalists, Sameer Yasir and Iqbal Kirmani with Emily Schmall. The article Links back to another article by Sameer Yasir and Geneva Abdul about the first arrest in UP under the new law against forced religious conversion notoriously titled to mislead about the law
What speaks volumes about the editorial dishonesty of the fanatic Christian media house is that the law mentioned as New Interfaith Marriage law is actually called Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. The law attempts to prevent religious conversions on three counts, marriage being one of them. The law requires the person responsible for conversion to prove that the religious conversion was not done under coercion. It is not unto Hindu nationalist government which NYT so dislikes to prove it one way or other.
In the article by Geneva Abdul and Samir Yasir, it was claimed as a new article specifically designed to marginalise Muslims (as if Muslims were doomed into perpetual ghettoised existence unless they convert hindu women to Islam and get married to them). The article mischievously brings into play Citizenship Amendment act which was aimed at providing expedited citizenship to Hindus escaping persecution from Islamic nations creating out of India during Partition at the time of Independence as somehow being Anti-Muslim. The fact of the matter is that the new law of UP Government is religion-neutral and it equally will apply to the forced conversion of Muslims to Hindu faith under duress. I would presume that this article is based on an inherent acceptance that even in a Hindu majority nation, supposedly under the throes of some Hindu supremacist movement, the conversion of Muslim women to Hinduism is rare and religious conversion is usually one-way track.
The article tries to stand on the crutches of the Sikh Girl's conversion case from Kashmir, staunchly opposed by the Sikh organization and even the Sikh advocates of Khalistan-Kashmir friendship, both separatist fanatic movements funded by Islamic State of Pakistan. However, the story which supposedly is the basis and cause of the column is abandoned as it moves to Hindu bashing. While it concedes that the ordinance is not only about Hindus leaving the faith, rather tries to protect all faiths from forced conversions, it cleverly pushes the propaganda stating -Critics contend that such laws fan anti-Muslim sentiment under a Government promoting a Hindu Nationalist Agenda. As is common with standard propaganda piece, it does not explain either- as to how the Government is promoting Hindu Nationalist Agenda and how it fans Anti-Muslim sentiment. The article neither explains nor explore the charges which it claims Critics make.
The article goes to its standard Hinduphobic mode, abandoning the case from Kashmir which was the basic premise of the article, to attack the Government in UP, also bringing in discussion Bajrang Dal, condescendingly translating the Brigade of Lord Hanuman as Brigade of Hindu Monkey God. The anti-hindu tilt taken by the Muslim journalists of NYT is pretty obvious when they keep attacking Hindus for a case of conversion between Sikhs and Muslims. Also the article lacks any scholarly effort and the laziness of the writer is compensated by their hatred for Hinduism.
The article some how presumes that the cries and concerns of Love Jihad is a Hindu thing and is a ploy of fanatic Hindus (an oxymoron) meant to oppose Interfaith marriage. This argument falls flat on the basic etymology itself. Interfaith marriage remains interfaith marriage only if the bride and the groom are from different faiths. The moment conversion happens, it is no longer interfaith marriage. So any opposition to conversion for the sake of marriage or post-marriage is actually against interfaith marriage.
The article also totally ignores the fact that unlike Pakistan where overwhelmingly Muslim majority is charged with changing faith of women of other minority faith, in India, Muslims even when being minority are found being predatory in most case unlike the Hindu majority which ends up dead whether in case of Ankit Saxena or Rahul Rajput any time they happen to fall in love with a Muslim girl. In most such cases, there is no insistence of conversion so those are truly interfaith marriages gone bad. However as fanatic Muslims position as liberal journalists, these cases are not taken up by NYT.
Another basic thing which shows the lethargy of NYT is the origin of the term. They project it as some Hindu group's fantasy. However, the term first came into public conversation then Kerala High Court admitted to this in the year 2009 spoke of it and asked the Government to frame laws to protect the innocent from what in the west has been officially called as grooming gangs, operating through fake identity, trapping the girls of other communities and then forcing them to convert. Pertinent to note here is that Kerala is not a state under the influence of the ideology, The NYT calls as Militant Hindutva ideology. The state has significant Christian and Muslim population and is under Communist sway. The Government in Center in 2009 was under UPA, with Congress being the lead member, under the leadership of Catholic Christian leader, Sonia Gandhi (her faith I have picked from a case filed in Mumbai HC by Senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal where he claimed that Mrs Gandhi was being harassed for her catholic faith). While Sonia Gandhi might be very much a Parsi like her late husband, but in any case, 2009 was way before Narendra Modi was even a Prime Ministerial candidate, Kerala was a Left-ruled state. In Early 2020, Syro-Malabar Church, one of the largest Christian denomination claimed that Christian and Hindu women were systematically targeted to eventually employ them as ISIS brides, post conversion to Islam.
The Hinduphobic piece of NewYork Times ignores the facts. It picks a rhetorical position, builds an opinion piece around it, while handling a sensitive issue which needs a nuanced approach, merely because their objective is to attack India being the only nation where a global minority religion resides in large numbers. I hope this blog reaches NYT and their readers and they all express their discomfort to the publication for being so much against a minority religion with no nation to call its own. While their article roams around in UP and Madhya Pradesh, it fails to even mention Kerala ever. I have on the other hand, tried to reference the claims I have made, instead of hiding behind clever tools like critics claim and many say. In the name of Interfaith Marriage, NYT would do well to look and investigate deeply into attempts to bring about demographic changes in the last lands of Hindu faith.