Stop stereotyping, terrorism belongs to no religion
Last week, a professor from the reputed Manipal Institute of Technology called an engineering student from a minority community, ‘Ajmal Kasab’, the 26/11 terrorist.
Published: 30th November 2022 12:17 AM | Last Updated: 30th November 2022 12:17 AM | A+A A-
Last week, a professor from the reputed Manipal Institute of Technology called an engineering student from a minority community, ‘Ajmal Kasab’, the 26/11 terrorist. It reveals how stereotyping people is so deeply embedded in our mindset. The video of the incident, which occurred during class, went viral, showing the student boldly arguing with the professor against being referred to by a terrorist’s name just because he is a Muslim. The seemingly casual apology from the professor notwithstanding, the student later downplayed the incident. But Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) placed the professor under suspension pending an inquiry.
This is reminiscent of another incident that took place during a South Africa-Sri Lanka test match on August 7, 2006, in which late Australian cricketer-turned-commentator Dean Jones had referred to South African Muslim player Hashim Amla (with a beard typically grown by adult male Muslims as per Sunnah, the Prophet’s way) as a ‘terrorist’ after the latter had taken a catch to dismiss a Sri Lankan batsman. Jones’ contract with the TV channel on which he was commentating was terminated despite his apologies.
Apologies, however sincerely expressed, may appear superficial in these cases. Stereotyping cannot be dismissed as an isolated case. It can have an adverse impact in a multi-religious and diverse society like the one existing in India. Acts of terror belong to no religion. Religions denounce them. A vast majority of people, whichever religion they belong to, have no links with such acts nor with any kind of crime. But a stereotypical mindset targeting them because they belong to a religion from which some members resort to acts of terror is most unjust and discriminatory. It is akin to convicting an innocent person. We have no right to prejudge people and address them or refer to them as ‘terrorists’ when they are not even remotely linked to it.
We urgently need a change in mindset. The need of the hour is for people to understand each other’s religious values, practices and beliefs. Some mosques in Bengaluru are already showing the way. They have opened their doors for non-Muslims to enter and understand Islam through a programme called Masjid Darshan. It could be a beginning to understanding Muslims and Islam. Hopefully, stereotyping Muslims as ‘terrorists’ would soon be a thing of the past.