It had been going on for some time. Every week I received at least a couple of letters that told me of the greatness of Islam and the wonderful Moslem way of life. For some reason, these letters always arrived at my personal email address, evading the spam blockers. The writers’ names included James Joseph, Arun Gopal, Vinod Nair, David Gabriel, Lakshmi Sharma and many more. All these names are readily recognised as either Christian or Hindu. Though all of them addressed me as ‘Loving Brother’ or ‘Dearest Prithvi’, I had no idea who these incredibly nice people were.
In September 2005, when Kurt Westergaard drew those naughty cartoons in Jyllands-Posten, the frequency of these letters increased. It was so, every time something controversial happened concerning Islam. These letters told me how the Dutch do not allow mosques and how Moslems are persecuted in Denmark. They went on to tell me how the prophet, a very kind man, forgave a Jew who threw rubbish at him every day. He even forgave some women who killed his uncle. The Prophet indeed must have been a very compassionate man. At that point, I was very happy to leave matters as they were.
The scene now shifts to London. I was between jobs and had plenty of time to wander the streets, looking for writing material. All of four months had passed since Jyllands-Posten had published Westergaard’s cartoons. Out of the blue, the Moslem youth in London became inflamed by the Danish cartoons. In stark contrast, the brothers in London were no where as peaceful as the upper caste Hindus and church going Christians who extolled the virtues of Universal Islamic Love through their persistent emails. They shouted slogans demanding death to all infidels. They yelled that there is no space on this earth for Christians, Jews and Hindus. The placards they carried had phrases such as BEHEAD THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM; EUROPE YOU WILL PAY, DEMOLITION IS ON THE WAY; EUROPE IS THE CANCER, ISLAM IS THE ANSWER etc. The most striking was one which read FREEDOM, GO TO HELL, obviously targeting the freedom of press in Denmark among other things. Some of the protesting men had their faces covered, just like their women. Yes, it happened in a city like London. If my beloved reader is interested in seeing some of the press photos, I suggest you visit the following link. www.snopes.com/photos/politics/muslimprotest.asp
It was a cold February night and I reached home very late after seeing the protests. Instead of going to bed straight away, I carefully examined all the emails of brotherly love that I had received in the past. All of them originated from web service providers based in the Arabian Gulf. Obviously it was not just the protesters who had their faces covered. I wrote replies to two of those addresses that night. To the first, I asked if he supported his brothers who went berserk on London streets. I also asked him if it was fair to do so in a country that had given them refuge from their own brothers in their own lands. If they don’t like it, why do they stay in the cool comforts of a Kafir land? I wrote to the second mailer that I indeed admired him for his love of Islam, despite his chaste Hindu background, made obvious by his upper caste Hindu name. Was Islam indeed that powerful, I asked him.
What followed was a nightmare. On one side, I received a steady deluge of hate mail, accusing me of supporting Jews and American imperialists. I was told that his brothers would be visiting my London address any day to teach me a lesson or two. On the other side, from the second mailer, I received several invitations to study more of the greatness of Islam. All he needed was my address, so that he could send me several precious books based on Islamic love, life and religion. Needless to say, I abandoned my email address after a couple of weeks. I would not even mind confessing that I was a little scared. Somewhere else on these pages, I have openly admitted that I am not a very courageous man.
Curiosity aroused, I also rather desperately wanted to find out what Westergaard had indeed done to spark off such ire. I found his sketches on a website and they were indeed the work of a very talented cartoonist. I have no comments about the actual motives or lack of motives behind the drawings. These days you can see them at the link below and reach your own judgement. www.zombietime.com/mohammed_image_archive/jyllands-posten_cartoons/
My further enquiries led me to the discovery that the Danish are wonderfully generous people who did allow Moslems to build mosques and their own burial grounds. Like the British, they gave them the freedom to follow their beliefs and speak their minds, the same freedom that made a protester carry the slogan ‘FREEDOM GO TO HELL’ in London.
To conclude the matter, I belong to a Hindu tradition, in existence a good four thousand years before Islam, where our three hundred and thirty million gods (yes, that is right) live in perfect harmony. There is plenty of space for a few more from any religion. Kerala, my beautiful state back in India, has hundreds of mosques, churches and other places of worship donated by our generous Hindu kings. Once a while, when one of our cartoonists chooses to sketch a Hindu god or two, we have a good laugh. If some half baked idiot does take it seriously, as in the issue with that excellent artist M F Hussein, we have a just legal system that steps in to pull the foolscaps over the low-brows. Cheers.
Note: Islam’s own medieval-era manuscripts carried pictures of the Prophet till the hardhats banned it later. You can find a selection at the following link.