Although we're still dealing with sketchy information on the barbaric attacks in Mumbai, I've noticed that some bloggers are eager to put a distinctly Neocon spin on events there: among the hundreds of innocent victims, the murders of a rabbi and his wife affirm the fundamentally antisemitic intention behind the attacks. Or the attacks are seen as nothing more than another prong in the wider Islamic assault on the West. While there is some truth in these views, the story appears to be far more complicated in India, where Indian Muslims have themselves been the victims of shocking homegrown religious violence.
Here are some excerpts from a 2006 piece on India's Muslims:
US President George Bush once famously congratulated India's leader Manmohan Singh that not a single Indian Muslim had joined the ranks of al Qaeda -- a testament, he implied, to communal harmony in the world's largest democracy. The statement may be factually correct -- but it is clear that Islamist extremism is an emerging threat in India.
Police say the Mumbai attacks may have been organised by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, but they believe young Indian Muslim men carried out the bombings...
Although the radicals may share the violent and anti-Western ideology of Islamist extremists around the world, analysts say their motivation is rooted in a sense of injustice at home.
Their most powerful recruiting tool -- the 2002 riots in Gujarat where human rights group say around 2,500 people, mostly Muslims, were hacked and burnt to death.
"Gujarat was the turning point in India's communal history. Now many Muslims who have suffered see the state as an active participant in the pogrom," said Mohammed Wajihuddin, a minority affairs expert.
"Then it becomes easy for groups like al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba to draft these people in."...
Washington's 'war on terror' have fuelled Muslims' sense of alienation, analysts say. But the complaints of the radical fringe are also rooted in a wider sense of disillusionment among Indian Muslims after a history of social and economic neglect.
"The ground in India is rife for the growth of jihadis," said a top police officer investigating the bombings. "Poverty, illiteracy, discrimination, injustice: everything is there to disillusion Muslims..."
Recent bomb attacks in India have not sparked the kind of Hindu-Muslim rioting their perpetrators may have wanted, but with police rounding up hundreds of Muslim men in Dharavi, there is a strong sense of mutual mistrust.
Some young Muslims say that the community has to fight back.
"Those who lost their fathers, mother, brother, sisters will seek revenge," said Ashraf Sheikh, a 28-year-old unemployed man, furiously gesticulating and smoking a cigarette as he talked of Muslim deaths in Gujarat.
"That is what is happening," he said, referring to the Mumbai blasts. "These things will only increase you will see."