A Chinese writer, Ding Gang, recently musing on the dangers of Islam in Asia, wrote an article that asked this question: “During a trip to India not long ago, a question came to me: Why does it seem that Muslims in India have remained largely apart from the radicalization that has happened to Muslim groups in other parts of the world?”
He appears to believe that India has escaped any large-scale Muslim terrorism, and even that Hindu-Muslim relations in India are relatively amicable. But to arrive at this pollyannish conclusion, he has overlooked a great deal. In the first place, there was the Partition in 1947 of India into Hindu and Muslim states. Millions of people were killed in inter-communal violence. But a main result of Partition was that in one fell swoop, some 70 million people, or two-thirds of the Muslim population of India at the time, were no longer part of India. Had they remained in India, the Muslims would have been, and would have felt, much more powerful, and their behavior toward Hindus would as a consequence have certainly been more aggressive. Muslim aggression is not constant, but reflects various factors, and especially, in non-Muslim lands, their percentage of the population.
In his study “Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam,” Dr. Peter Hammond offers his observations on the connection between the behavior of Muslims and their percentage of the total population:
When the Muslim population remains under 2% in a country, they will be seen primarily as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to other citizens.
As the Muslim population reaches 2% to 5%, they begin to recruit from ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, within prisons and street gangs.
From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food” and increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature such food on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply.
The violence increases when the Muslim population reaches 20%.
After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.
At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare.
He offers a half-dozen examples of countries for each of those percentages of Muslims; the details can be consulted here.
Hammond was describing the behavior, and violence, of Muslim civilians within a larger non-Muslim population. But when it came to trained Muslim warriors conducting Jihad, and not merely angry civilians on the warpath, they were able to subdue much larger numbers than Hammond indicates. The Muslim rulers of India successfully subjugated the Hindus, and did so when the Hindus, initially, were twenty times as numerous. After centuries of Hindus being killed, or converting to avoid paying the Jizyah, the Muslims just before Partition were still under 30% of the total in what had been British India. But this Partition made things more secure for the Hindus in India, and, of courses, less secure for the greatly-outnumbered Hindus in West and East Pakistan. From being close to 30% of the population, Muslims in post-Partition India were now about 10%, a number that helps explain their relative quiescence. They were just too few to cause large-scale trouble. It might also be that the Muslims who had to move out of India to live in East and West Pakistan were among the more fervent Believers, for whom it was most important to live in a Muslim-run polity. At least some of the Muslims who remained in India may have been self-selected, as being those who were most willing to reconcile themselves to their new Hindu rulers.
Ding Gang writes about the absence of “radical Islam” in India. It is true that many of the most spectacular examples of Muslim terrorism in India have been carried out by Pakistani, not Indian, Muslim terrorists. There was the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the attacks in 2008 in Mumbai, killing hundreds. The terrorists involved were all from Pakistan. Might one reason that Indian Muslims have been less active as terrorists be the fact that the Pakistani groups, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, were doing it more effectively for them as for all Muslims, with more powerful weapons, and better preparation inside Pakistan, than would have been possible for the Indian Mujahideen, who are closely watched inside India, while Muslim terrorists planning their attacks on India from Pakistan are not watched at all? But this does not mean that there weren’t plenty of attacks by Indian Muslims as well.
Ding Gang overlooks a great many of the terrorist attacks carried out by those Indian Muslims. The Muslims who in 2002 set fire to a train full of Hindu pilgrims returning from a disputed religious site were definitely from India. The Muslims who for several decades have been attacking Hindus (and occasionally Sikhs) in Kashmir, have also been locals. The major attacks for which the Indian Mujahideen group has taken credit include a long series of bombings or blasts. Here is a short list, up to 2013:
2007 Uttar Pradesh bombings
2008 Jaipur bombings
2008 Bangalore serial blasts
2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts
13 September 2008 Delhi bombings
2010 Pune bombing
2010 Jama Masjid attack
2010 Varanasi bombing
2011 Mumbai serial blasts
2013 Bodh Gaya blasts
It is true that Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, two Pakistani groups, have been responsible for more attacks in India than the Indian Muslim groups. But it is not true, pace Ding Gang, that Indian Muslims have failed to be “radicalized.” Kashmiri Pandits, the Brahmins who were the original inhabitants of Kashmir, have been almost completely driven out of their ancestral lands in Kashmir by Indian Muslims; diabolical persecution and orgies of murder led as many as 200,000 of the Pandits to flee, with only a few thousand Hindus still hanging on. It’s a gruesome tale that has not received its due in the Western media, but will be discussed in the next piece on Hindus and Muslims in present-day India.