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  Asia-Pacific
Denying the Allegations of Forceful Conversion
Special Contribution
By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

While a number of sources in India clearly trashed the allegations brought against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation that is widely regarded as the parent organization of the ruling party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, others said “Ghar wapsi was peaceful and non-forced.” The allegations against RSS are not only raised by radical Islamic groups, it also is echoed by political rivals of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and RSS. Before drawing any conclusion, we need to understand what really has been happening in India, since its independence in 1947 and how the so-called secularist forces and anti-Hindu elements had played the role of collaborators or cohorts of radical Islam either by remaining silent on the issue of forceful conversion or simply hiding this tragic issue from the attention of the regional and international media.

According to 2016 report in The Times of India, nearly six thousand people in India were converted into Islam during 2011-2015. The report said, “According to an intelligence report submitted to the state police chief seven months ago, and accessed by TOI (Times of India), two ‘recognized religious conversion centers in Kozhikode and Malappuram converted as many as 5,793 people to Islam between 2011 and 2015. Conversions happening in unrecognized centers in the state could be much higher, fear government top officials who, for obvious reasons, didn’t want to be named.”

TOI further said, “The report states that almost half of those who converted to Islam are women, and that the majority of these women (76 percent) are below 35 years. Of those converted, 4,719 were Hindus and the remaining 1,074 mostly Christians.”

Ghar Wapsi is a terminology used by the Hindu organizations which means reconverting the people to their ancestral religion, who were earlier Hindus but got converted to Islam or Christianity. We need to remember, RSS or BJP are only getting those returned to their ancestral religion, who earlier had been lured into Islam by the conversion centers and other organizations and individuals either in exchange of cash benefits or through ‘Love Jihad’. One need to remember, particularly the economically disadvantaged Hindus are vulnerable to such religious conversions.

Conversions of Hindus into Islam are not only taking place in India, but it also is taking place in other Muslim nations. In Pakistan, for example, Hindu females are kidnapped, drugged, raped and forcibly converted into Islam. While Pakistan was created as a Muslim state in 1947, the country’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, said that religious minorities should have the freedom to live there and practice their faith. But today Pakistan’s identity is that of an Islamic nationalist state, hardliner religious groups are a formidable force, and religious minorities have little voice in society. As influential Islamic shrines and religious groups work to convert people to Islam, some Hindus are leaving their villages and moving to cities in Pakistan, or leaving Pakistan altogether and moving to India.

Although Pakistan became a Muslim-majority state post-partition—with Muslims dominating politics, the economy, and society—Hindus managed to retain a degree of social influence in the Sindh province, where they were known as successful merchants. But lower-caste and low-income Hindus in Sindh toil on farmlands for powerful, rich landowners, sometimes in a form of economic servitude. They face social discrimination and are often cut off from the Hindu community at large. A 2015 report by the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan argued that social, cultural, economic, and religious factors have combined with feudal power structures in rural areas to enable forcible conversions.

While Hindu activists and families allege that young girls are abducted, coerced into converting to Islam, and married off to Muslim men in an organized manner, Muslim religious activists and leaders are defensive about conversions, believing that converting someone to Islam is a way of earning blessings. These conversions are often backed by powerful shrines, seminaries, and clerics, as well as local politicians. Seminaries and shrines protect the couple and say the girl willingly eloped, converted, and married.

This poses a challenge for lawyers and activists, who have to figure out if these marriages are born of free will or are marked by threats and violence. And almost invariably, the girl’s testimony that she exercised her right as an adult to marry settles the case, while her parents continue to insist she is being pressured by the influential followers of the shrine where she converted to Islam.

What is Love jihad?

Love Jihad is one of the terms that have been introduced in India in the past decade. Rights groups believe that it is a strategy devised by Indian Muslims to cast a love spell over Hindu girls. Under this spell, these girls are compelled to convert to Islam. It is alleged that the purpose of love jihad is to increase the Muslim population so as to turn India’s current Muslim minority into a majority.

But, the Wall Street Journal is unwilling to accept this fact of Love Jihad. Pro-Islamist Al Jazeera terms Love Jihad as a “myth”.

According to the Open Magazine, “The term ‘love jihad’ has been painted as a politically motivated issue and as an attempt to malign a particular community. At the same time, the suffix ‘jihad’, which, as per religious text, means ‘striving to uphold the cause of God’, has been misinterpreted by certain sections of that community as a war for religion waged to protect and expand Islamism.

“Love jihad is a clear and present danger, a conscious, planned effort where non-Muslim women are lured into relationships and married to Muslims with the objective of converting them to Islam. Interestingly, the term and definition are being used in ongoing cases in the highest courts of the country.

“It becomes pertinent to examine if love jihad or ‘Romeo jihad’, as some call it, is merely a ploy to convert or has more grievous connotations. Could it also be a form of human trafficking, an organized movement under the patronage of terrorist or separatist groups? The seriousness and peril engraved in the act are now coming to the fore and the Supreme Court has asked for a thorough investigation into its modus operandi.”

Foreign Policy Magazine in an article titled ‘India’s fake love jihad’ wrote, “The so-called love jihad "phenomenon" sees young Muslim men seducing and eloping with young Hindu women and then converting them to Islam. It has launched websites such as LoveJihadInfo.com, a one-stop source for all things sexually sinister and Muslim that features articles such as "Mangalore: Love Jihad an indirect war on Hindu civilization." The site also claims that global love jihad is run by international terrorist organizations and blames the "fake secularism" of India’s mainstream media for encouraging it.”

So-called secularist forces in India putting blame on ruling BJP say, “The government is allowing the RSS and others to use the state apparatus to further an agenda of establishing Hindu dominance in India, where 13 percent of the population is Muslim.”

Confronting these media assault on India centering Love Jihad, Hinduwebsite.com said,“Love Jihad means using love and sex to convert people to Islam or establishing dominance over them. It refers to any attempt made by religious zealots and Muslim fanatics to lure Hindu and Christian women into a conjugal or sexual relationship and use it as an opportunity to convert them by force, indoctrination or persuasion.

“In love jihad, the element of love is used as a weapon or means. It does not refer to the instances of genuine love, which may spontaneously develop between two consenting people because of mutual attraction, despite their different, religious and social backgrounds. Instead, the attempt is to pry upon vulnerable women and draw them into a relationship with an ulterior motive.

“Thus, love Jihad is a political ploy, or an organized, covert effort by misguided youth who intend to use the emotion of love against vulnerable women for a sinister purpose. Its goal is to convert non-Muslim women to Islam and produce children through them to increase the local population of Muslims and thereby change the demographics of a non-Muslim country.”

It said, “Those who are familiar with Islamic laws know that Islam does not favor inter-religious marriages without the conversion of the non-Muslim people, both men or women, who agree to marry Muslims. There is a taboo on Muslim women in Islamic nations not to engage in any marital or sexual relationship with men of other religions. The punishment in such cases is often instant death.

“Men of other religions also, who dare to establish such relationships with Muslim women in these countries, face the prospects of a terrible end. Even mere suspicion is sufficient to implicate the people involved. The taboo is not confined to men of other religions only. Muslim men from countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are subject to similar treatment in many Islamic nations since they are considered inferior to the Arabs.

“…However, love-jihad is a sinister ploy and should be viewed as such. It cannot be taken lightly because it is sporadic, or such incidents are rare. Hindu community must spread awareness about the problem, just as they caution the children to be wary of strangers and sexual predators. When incidents of love-jihad happen, they must be brought to light and reported by Media, without bias, so that people in the neighborhoods can take preventive measures.”

In 2011, when Akhila Ashokan was eighteen, she left her home in T. V. Puram, a village in Kerala, for college in Salem, a busy town seven hours to the east. Her father, K. M. Ashokan, was an ex-military man; her mother, Ponnamma, a practicing Hindu. In Salem, Akhila studied homeopathy, boarding with five women, including two Muslim sisters, Jaseena and Faseena, with whom she studied, cooked, and talked. Akhila watched them pray. Soon after—it is unclear when, exactly—Akhila started to read books and watch videos that helped her understand Islam. Feeling the stirrings of a new faith, she began to pray. In 2015, she decided to call herself Aasiya.

To her father, Akhila seemed a changed person in November, 2015, when she returned home for a funeral. She was quiet and reserved, reluctant to join in the rituals. After the funeral, Aasiya resolved to declare her new faith, and returned to school wearing a hijab. Her mother, when she heard of the conversion, told Aasiya that her father had broken his leg and asked her to come home to see him. But Aasiya, wise to the extravagant emotional blackmail of Indian parents, refused. She began a residential program for new converts at Sathya Sarani, a religious institute in Kerala; took yet another name, Hadiya; and registered a profile on waytonikah.com, a Muslim matrimonial site, where she noticed a man, bearded and lean, who worked at a pharmacy in Muscat, Oman. Shafin Jahan played goalkeeper for the F.C. Kerala soccer team, had a sweet smile, quoted Shakespeare, and hashtagged all his posts on Instagram. She met him, and then his family. Jahan’s Instagram went from pictures of food and football to photos of open skies and sunsets.

Even before Hadiya and Jahan got married, in December, 2016, Ashokan had taken his concerns to court, arguing that the people behind his daughter’s conversion had “unlimited resources in finances as well as manpower” and were enabling “illegal and forceful conversions.” His counsel argued that Hadiya, then twenty-four, was in “a vulnerable position from which she is necessary to be rescued and handed over to the petitioner.” Ashokan was convinced that Jahan, who had ties to the radical-Muslim Popular Front of India political party, was sent to disappear his daughter, and was backed by a shadowy organization with links to the Islamic State. (“I can’t have a terrorist in my family,” he said.) The judgment from the Kerala High Court, which came in the last week of May, 2017, sided with Ashokan. “In the first place, it is not normal for a young girl in her early 20s, pursuing a professional course, to abandon her studies and to set out in pursuit of learning an alien faith and religion,” the judges wrote. They were clearly unimpressed by Hadiya, a “gullible” and “ordinary girl of moderate intellectual capacity,” who had “apparently memorized” Arabic verses. Hadiya’s five-month marriage to Jahan was annulled; Hadiya was put in the care of her parents.

Conclusion:

Name it Love jihad or forceful (rather I would call it tricky way) of conversion of non-Muslims into Islam – this disturbing phenomenon not only is on rise, but it already has reached an alarming level. Such tendencies are certainly destined towards implementing an Islamic conquest throughout the world. Most importantly, conversions of non-Muslims into Islam are getting vigorous patronization and secret funding from the Arab and Muslim nations. Muslim mindset is all about conquest, and turning the world into an “Islamic State”; or more precisely, a Caliphate. While we are doing everything within our capacities in confronting radical Islam, we certainly are yet to initiate any effective formula either in combating Love Jihad or stopping activities of Islamic charities (including mosques and Islamic centers) from luring non-Muslims into Islam as well preaching Jihad – murder of Jews, Christians, Hindus and non-Muslims.

Unless we can’t stop this growing monster forthwith, radical Islam will defeat us and establish its reign of terror in the name of Caliphate and mass intimidation of non-Muslims and conscious individuals.



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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a seasoned editor, writer, columnist, author, and peace activist in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also an editor & publisher of Weekly Blitz www.weeklyblitz.net The Bangladesh journalist is the recipient of various awards including "PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005" and "AJC Moral Courage Award 2006."

 

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