The jehadi fog lifts
3 December 2001
New Delhi: It wasn’t so long ago that the souk was seething. The American bombardment in Afghanistan to incapacitate the Taliban
appeared to horrify Muslim opinion everywhere. Quite simply, the reason was that ordinary folk did not quite comprehend the
monstrous scale on which the Taliban system worked, abetted by tainted funds supplied through ‘benefactors’ like Pakistan.
Nor was it adequately understood that long before the twin towers went down in New York, the real victims of the terror
networks for years were ordinary Muslims in predominantly Islamic societies, such as West Asia and Pakistan. In Afghanistan,
the worst hit were women and children. Nevertheless, so pervasive had become the malign influence of the networked
propaganda machine of the mediaevalists that it was easy to whip up the frenzied idea that the world was ganging up against
Islam and Muslim Afghanistan. The Muslim poor became particularly susceptible to this influence. The whipping up was being
done by the Al-Qaeda’s global networks, masquerading as religious or welfare bodies dedicated to education, healthcare or
waqf matters. Since the Northern Alliance fighters — Muslim to a man — pushed the Taliban back and went rushing into
Kabul to a hugging welcome by its residents, the lies have suddenly exploded. The ‘street’ has gone quiet in Islamic lands.
Peshawar and Quetta are no longer being rocked by revolt. The supposedly intrepid ‘jehadis’ are running away from the battle
which is being won every passing day by Muslims sworn to wipe out the Taliban and reconstruct life anew in Afghanistan. In
these circumstances, it is hardly a surprise that our own loose cannon, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, has fallen silent.
He had made it his business to inflame passions, boost pro-terrorist sentiment and denigrate public figures like Shabana Azmi in
the hope of cashing in on carefully manufactured popular paranoia among the poorer Muslims. But all said and done, the
historical retreat of the spurious jehadi sentiment must await the day when democrats speak up across the Muslim world.