SELF-RIGHTEOUS FANATICISM: IT'S NOT JUST FOR AMERICANS ANYMORE
(A brewing brouhaha. Get it? You know, alliteration and consonance and all that . . . oh, never mind).
Seems that the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, literally meaning "Indian People's Party," is in power in Jharkhand, and its leaders want all students to sing India's national song, Vande Mataram, on the 100th anniversary of its composition by Bankim Chandra Chattopadyay. (Say that sentence 5 times, real quickly. C'mon, I dare you.)
Ok, so some ultra-nationalist party wants some flag-waving yahooism, what's so strange about that, right? Well, it'll come as no suprise to anyone that Jharkhand's Muslims don't want their children singing the Vande Mataram, because they claim it's an ode to Durga, an Hindu goddess. And that, of course, would qualify as blasphemy or apostasy or idolotry, or one of those bad things that fundies of all shapes and sizes find so offensive. As Obaidullah Qasmi, a prayer leader of a Jharkhand mosque explains:
singing the Vande Mataram, which translates as "Mother I bow before thee," is against the basic tenets of Islam. "A Muslim bows only before Allah. We cannot equate the country with a goddess."(Empasis added). Mr. Qasmi didn't say whether prostration before a god (no "ess") would be equally offensive. And, just to allay global concerns that India's Muslims were gaining the high ground in terms of religious archaism and stubbornness, "BJP minority-wing leader Rizwan Khan" told reporters that:
We will ensure that the national song is sung at all prominent intersections in the cities and towns across the state. Those who don't want to sing Vande Mataram are anti-nationals."(Emphasis added). Now why does that sound familiar to me?