Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Growing extremism in Britain, government needs to take action, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Growing extremism in Britain, government needs to take action, Dr Shabir Choudhry   15 August 2016 

Britain, at one time, was a tolerant society. But it is no longer tolerant and accommodating because of growing extremism, hatred and intolerance. It is imperative for the government to take some action, and take it soon, rather than wait for a disaster.

This extremism manifest in different forms and shapes; and government, civil society and all those who believe in right of expression need to take a united stand against this menace.

One form of extremism is coming from right wing British nationalists; and the other one is religious intolerance and hatred against others. The later, if not checked, will surely result in a blood bath in Britain, because come what may, adherents of this religious philosophy are determined to impose their will on other people. 

Right of expression is a fundamental right of all human beings; and the British government and the British society takes pride in championing individual’s right to hold an opinion and express it.

It is sad to note that people who originated from South Asia and settled in Britain, under influence of religious parties and some government patronage, are promoting extremism and intolerance in Britain. It is becoming increasingly difficult, even in free society of Britain, to express true sentiments on political and religious matters because of fear of reprisals.

Unfortunately we have brought bad habits from back home to Britain and try to settle political, social, cultural and religious points on streets of Britain; and the authorities must ensure that this bad practice is stopped without delay.

The State of Jammu and Kashmir is forcibly divided and occupied by India, Pakistan and China; and families are divided since 1947. 
There are three popular narratives or schools of thought on future of Jammu and Kashmir, namely those who want to be part of India, those who want to join Pakistan and those who want to become independent. The last school of thought is the most popular one; and that has unnerved the policy makers of Islamabad who always propagate that people of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to join Pakistan.

To counter the threat of an independent Jammu and Kashmir, Islamabad deliberately and consistently communalised the Jammu and Kashmir dispute with disastrous results for the people of the former Princely State.

The jihadi nurseries they established to communalise polity of Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir also brought havoc to Pakistan; but the policy makers of Islamabad are determined not to learn anything from their mistakes or change the course. The result of this redundant and disastrous policy is that Pakistan is getting alienated; and perceived as unreliable, unstable and dangerous country which is at war with itself, and with neighbours.

Over the past decades they have established this mindset that they can only survive as a country by promoting religion, violence and extremism. Some countries just need one enemy to keep population under their control; Pakistan has convinced its people that there are many enemies of Pakistan which include India, Israel, America and Afghanistan etc. This strategy is suicidal; and will not win Pakistan friends or enhance Pakistan’s status as a rational country which wants peace and economic stability.

The Jihadi culture they have created does not only promote extremism and violence, it also intimidates, harass and silence those who do not follow their brand of Islam or politics. It is sad that this brand of religion and politics is exported to other countries through their proxies and expatriate Pakistanis and Kashmiris.

In place like Britain, perceived to be a citadel of freedom and liberalism, people are harassed and intimidated; and this practise must be condemned and opposed. It is sad to learn that some Asian members of the British Parliament and some Councillors are also wooed by Islamabad to promote their agenda.

Shaukat Kashmiri is a nationalist Kashmiri leader who promotes united and independent Jammu and Kashmir with liberal and secular society. People have right to disagree with politics and political ideology of Shaukat Kashmiri, Chairman of United Kashmir People’s National Party; but they have no right to make allegations against him and intimidate him and his party workers.  

He is among those who strongly and consistently opposed Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir. He believes violence is not the way forward; and all disputes have to be resolve through a process of dialogue. In response to recent incidents of violence and human rights violation taking place in Kashmir occupied by India, his party with help of other like minded groups arranged a demonstration in Leeds.

Towards the end of the protest and speeches some people who are perceived as proxies of Pakistan tried to disrupt the peaceful gathering, because leaders of the protest asked the audience to look at the causes of the unrest and human rights abuses. 

Later on these people who dislike politics of Shaukat Kashmiri got Council of Mosques involved in this matter, and they all gathered in the Leeds Council Chambers. It is believed that emotional speeches were made to promote Islamabad’s agenda; and formulate a united front against those who advance cause of secular and liberal society in united and independent Jammu and Kashmir.

During these speeches one Leeds Councillor made very serious allegations against Shaukat Kashmiri. He called Shaukat Kashmiri an agent of RAW, India’s secret agency. Gravity of this allegation has to be understood in the context of prevailing emotional situation of South Asia where people are attacked, harassed and killed in Kashmir and in Pakistan merely on allegations that so and so is an ‘Indian agent’ or a ‘non believer’.

These people think they have God - given right to make unfounded allegations, and then act as a judge and jury; and harass or kill the accused. They get away with this unjust, illogical and barbarian act in Pakistan, Afghanistan and in Jammu and Kashmir; but they must not be allowed to get away with the crimes of promoting extremism, intolerance and violence on the British streets.

I want to ask, is the Leeds Council Chamber - and for that matter other Council Chambers in Britain there to promote intolerance and hatred; and intimidate those who are adherents of liberal and secular ideals? If this is not the case, then my demand is that the authorities must not be a spectator and let extremists hunt and harass law abiding citizens of this great country which has championed tolerance and right of citizens to hold an opinion and express it.

On social media one person with ID of Qamar Naqeeb Khan said: All those who oppose construction of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and construction of Kala Bagh Dam are enemies of Pakistan; and anyone who comes in the way of progress of Pakistan must be killed.

I asked him are you promoting violence and hatred on social media he proudly said ‘Yes’. It is this kind of mindset we are up against. We don’t know how many people with the mindset of Mumtaz Qadri (body guard of Governor of Punjab who killed him instead of protecting him) and Qamar Naqeeb Khan are roaming the streets of Britain.

Because I also advance cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir and oppose extremism, violence, religious intolerance and hatred, I am also a target of these extremists. I regularly get allegations, abuses on social media; and get threats from extremists. 

Sad and bitter fact is that some British Parliamentarians and British Councillors are actively behind this malicious campaign; and are promoting agenda of Islamabad and extremist groups. If these people and their God Fathers who promote terrorism, extremism and religious hatred are not checked, then I am afraid we will see more blood on the British streets. Authorities need to take some action before the situation gets out of hand.

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com   

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