Westerners Think About the Secular All Wrong

Here’s CNN, baffled by Hindu extremists ginning up violence against Muslims and wondering why nobody is stopping it.

At a conference in India last month, a Hindu extremist dressed head-to-toe in the religion’s holy color, saffron, called on her supporters to kill Muslims and “protect” the country.

“If 100 of us become soldiers and are prepared to kill 2 million (Muslims), then we will win … protect India, and make it a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a senior member of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha political party, according to a video of the event.

Her words and calls for violence from other religious leaders were met with a roar of applause from the large audience, a video from the three-day conference in the northern Indian city of Haridwar shows.

But across India, people were outraged. Nearly a month on, many are still furious at the lack of government response or arrests over the comments, which they say highlights a worsening climate for the country’s Muslims.

After mounting pressure, India’s top court intervened on Wednesday, asking for a response from state and federal authorities within 10 days.Pandey and several others are being investigated by local police for insulting religious beliefs, a charge that carries a possible sentence of up to four years in prison, Haridwar police officials told CNN.

Neither Pandey, nor the others, have publicly commented about the outcry or investigations.

Late Thursday, police in Uttarakhand state, where Haridwar is located, arrested a man who spoke at the event, senior Haridwar Police official Shekhar Suyal told CNN. It is unclear what the man said at the event. Police have not formally charged anyone with any crime.CNN has contacted India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs, the Hindu Mahasabha and Pandey, but has not received a response.

Analysts say the Hindu Mahasabha is at the tip of a broader trend in India which has seen an alarming rise in support for extremist Hindu nationalist groups since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power nearly eight years ago.Although these groups aren’t directly associated with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his own Hindu nationalist agenda, and the lack of repercussions for these groups’ previous vitriolic comments, has given them tacit support, making them even more brazen, analysts say.

One of the things Tom Holland points out in DOMINION is that the concept of the secular is a purely Christian idea and that the Christian west has propagated itself to the world in two ways: through missionaries but also through secularization. Post-Christians imagine secularization is the Endpoint of History. It’s a message we hear everywhere in the west, with the fond belief that as a civilization “matures” it naturally becomes “secular” to the great consternation of something called “religion”.

But in fact, the idea of the secular is a product of Latin Western Christianity, particularly due to her long duel with the state and the idea that there are spheres that are properly this-worldly. There is no Christian math, the sciences are properly conducted with a methodological atheism and the prince is not to rule the Church. When the Christian west comes to places like India, precisely what it does not do is establish a confessional state. It creates a secular one. Likewise, when Ataturk takes over Turkey and kicks out the Ottomans, he makes it a secular state–a concept foreign to Islam up till that time.

Likewise, when a civilization like Turkey or India want to throw off Christian influence they do not become secular. They throw off secularism and reassert religious identity. It’s what both Modi and Erdogan are doing. That’s why India is not stopping its Hindu whackjobs and that is why Erdogan ordered that the secular space of Hagia Sophia Museum be turned back into a mosque.


3 Responses

  1. I am not at all sure that the western notion of the secular field has a great deal to do with “Latin Western Christianity”‘s “long duel” with the state, or any kind of philosophical principle. Secularisation arose because of western Christianity’s centuries of brutal, bloody religious wars and the need to find a way of people of different (Christian) faiths living in the same country under the same rulers without the majority lot burning, massacring or otherwise persecuting the religious minority. The driving force was secular rulers seeking peace in their own countries refusing for practical reasons of statecraft to get involved in religious disputes or impose the ruler’s religion on those who did not share it.
    In India and in countries where there is Islamisation going on, Christianity is a bit of an also-ran, frankly.
    In India the dispute is between Hindus and Muslims in a country that has never been secularised – the British stoked inter-credal hatred and violence to preserve their rule, and the country was split into two on expressly religious grounds with partition. The British left an ostensibly secularised constitution, but its never in fact been a secularised country.
    Islamicisation is not a reaction against Christians but against corrupt, inept, unpleasant dictatorships to which Islamic movements provided the only effective opposition, and sharia-based law is at least a functioning system in countries where the ordinary courts are corrupt and ineffectual.
    The idea that Islamist movements are movements against western, secular, liberal democracy is a complete nonsense: these countries have never had such a thing, and the opposition to the West is not because “they hate our freedom” but because it is western money and arms which are propping up the corrupt dictators against whom the Islamists are actually fighting.

  2. India is going to a very dark place. Christians are being persecuted in many places there. Real persecution, not the American kind of hurt fee-fees. Destruction of churches, attack on priests, false arrests for “conversion” and so on.

    Note that the idea of Aryan superiority has it’s roots in Hinduism. It has eerie parallels to the MAGA phenomenon. The idealogical backbone of all this is RSS, from which all the leaders come. Prime minister Modi is a member. RSS is literally the SS, and it’s their stated vision that non-Hindus live as second class-citizens. Their ideological father is on record that Hitler’s third Reich is a role model. (Comically The RSS does do drills in brown shorts). They have an expat version of the organization in the US, called the HSS (translation Hindu Service Society) pretending to do service, while funding intolerance in their home land.

    The Hindutva movement is largely funded by Indian expats in the USA. They have no qualms in rooting for liberal governance in USA while cheering for intolerance in India. I don’t want to paint all Indian immigrants with the same brush, because quite a large number of Indian-origin folks in US are Catholics of the Eastern rites. But the majority supports the Hindu agenda.

    India is 80% Hindus. The 15% muslims, the 2% Christians and the tiny % of remaining minorities are on their way to real oppression. In less than a generations time, there will be pogroms as a matter of government policy.

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