Reality behind Muslim Phobia in Urban India

via Dr Mrs Hilda Raja published on September 16, 2010

The CNN-IBN   telecasted a program on the 16th September ‘Because my name is Khan’.The Copra sting operation had revealed that the Muslims are discriminated against when it comes to renting out houses to them-‘Urban India shutting the doors to Muslims’, ‘Metros suffering from Muslim phobia’ et al. There is too much of an exaggeration. When it comes to discrimination in renting out houses Hindus, Muslims, Christians are all victims of discrimination at some point or other. After all in this vast country with its teeming billions one can pick what one wants to project and make it look that the Muslims alone are discriminated against. This is far from the true. But given the population breakup ration the proportion of discrimination against the Muslims in actual numbers may be less-compared to the other communities. This is because of the population spread and of the ownership pattern. So one can pick and chose and find what one wants to find. This is unscientific like the Sachar survey.

Now to comment on the cobra sting-:It must be granted that Muslims themselves prefer to live in their own ghettos. If there is so much of discrimination against them where are the Muslim film personalities living? Everyone cannot get land, house of one’s choice. But let us face the reality

First it must be conceded that a house owner is free to sell/not to sell, rent/ not to rent his land or house.One cannot immediately conclude that it is discrimination against a community.The reasons for refusal to Muslims are varied. When Sadhvi Pragya motor bike was sold to someone and that bike was involved in serial blast incident look at the harassment and torture inflicted on Pragya. Similarly we must concede that most of the terrorists are Muslims and what happens if one rents out one’s house and some terrorists occupy it or frequent it? Will not the owner  also be put to harassment?

Second- even non-vegetarian Hindus and Christians find it difficult at times to get houses and doors are shut at times. But they understand the problem. No one cries foul that it is discrimination. The sentiments –both social and religious of the owner must be also respected.

Third- Muslims do not rent their houses to Hindus even Christians. This from my own experience I can vouch. They like to live among their own. This is not an offence.

Fourth I like to narrate my own experience. I had rented my upstairs when I lived in Chennai to Salim(name changed). He agreed on a whole lot of things-like not parking his car within the compound during the day ,with a month’s notice he would quit etc. Salim unfortunately did not abide with any of conditions in the agreement. Payment was not a problem. But when I decided to sell the house Salim refused to quit in spite of giving him two months notice. He point blank told me to go to court. I even tried looking out for a house for Salim but could not tell the prospective leasers that he was reliable. Would anyone point a finger at me and accuse me of being anti Muslim?

There was a high-rise structure of 16 flats on the same street where I lived and when we wanted to rent  one of the flats for a niece of ours the answer was that the 16 flats will be given only to Muslims. Though it took time for occupancy the vacant ones remain closed for a long time.

So it is not true that Muslims alone are discriminated against. They discriminate others. Vegetarians will not like to rent out their houses to non vegetarians. This is understandable. It is not the religion but the social customs and eating habits. For example: opposite my house were a couple of Muslims houses and when they purchase fish the vendor cleans and cuts it outside their gates. The crows pick up the waste and flies all over the place looking for a safe perch to eat! When this was pointed out to the Muslim neighbors and suggested that they get the fish cleaned within their compounds and see that the waste is put in a plastic bag and discarded, they were simply furious and did not heed. These may be simple things but which cause a lot of ill feeling.

For one of the feasts the goat is slaughtered and the blood smeared on the compound posts. This surely is unhygienic, revolting and offends the religious sentiments of others It is not true that Muslims alone are discriminated against in Metros. It is question of habits and a phobia which the Muslims suffer also. It is not as though only the Muslims have religious sentiments which cannot/ should not be hurt; the others too have religious practices and sentiments which need to be respected. It is natural that they protect themselves from being hurt. What is wrong in this?

After all Indians cannot be blamed-The separatist mindset is Islamic-did the Muslim leaders  not want a separate land of their own for the simple reason that they found it impossible to integrated with the Hindu population? So now why this great hue and cry that Metros shut the door at the Muslims. They rejected this very country and got a part of it. Now to forced themselves on others and seek the acceptance of the others to their kind of eating habits and social and religious customs is not fair. The electronic media cannot make it look that the Muslims are the victims of discrimination. The Muslims are equally to be blames for they too discriminate the Hindus and Christians. One must learn to call a spade a spade. The media must be balanced in telecasting such views and resist the temptation of giving a one sided picture.

‘The doors shut on the Muslims’: is the sob story but when the Kashmiri pundits were driven out of their homes and hearths what did it indicate-just indiscrimination or a mind set of intolerance. Where the media was then and even now the Kashmiri pundits are refugees in their own county. How is it justifiable? Why this ultra sensitivity when it comes to Muslims and their hurt sentiments. But stoic silence when Hindus are driven out of their own? What kind of mindset does it reflect?

Finally individual freedom is a Constitution right – to whom one rents/not rent one’s house is one’s individual freedom and it shall upheld. Call this what you may like-one has one own likes and dislikes based not on just a make-believe world or on appeasement policy but on reality and experience. One cannot barter it away to join the bandwagon of pseudo-secularists or for the sake of appeasement. Is it an offence? The media needs to be vigilant and not fall a prey of discrimination on the basis of religion to which it is often a perpetrator.

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