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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Religious Extremism and Our Response

Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ of Ahmedabad who runs Prashant has written an insightful and practical piece on the rise of religious extremism and the responses we need to make. We are grateful to Dr. John Dayal for sharing the same with us. This is important for all Christians, in particular church leaders, pastors and evangelists.
- General Secretary, NCCI

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS...!!!”
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

... Some “hot issues” in the context of the rise of religious extremism and what we are experiencing on the ground

This brief presentation is in two parts - their strategies and our possible responses:

THEIR STRATEGIES

Their strategies are multi-pronged, well thought of and with meticulous planning. They have been using some of these very effectively since their inception in the 1930s; these include: 
  • to have well oiled propaganda
-effective, simple, mass, vicious
-tell a lie a thousand times (Goebblesian)
-fuel myths / rumours (they can easily take you for a ride)
-indulge in half-truths / selectivity, manipulate facts and data
  • to mobilise as many as possible
-all sections of society (particularly poor and unemployed) / also adivasis and dalits
-get them to do their “dirty tricks” with money, liquor, meat and false promises
-rope in middle class who can be lured by “achche din”
  • to divide and rule
-a time-tested strategy by dictators and those who want to control others
-‘they’ are the problem
-not ‘you’ but ‘them’
-to provide lollipops (sponsor “pilgrimages” to the Holy Land)


  • to co-opt
-invite for a “dialogue”
-those attacks are just ‘aberrations’; a law and order problem
-we know that but we cannot control them
-don’t worry if there is any problem, just come to me; I am “OK”; (so vote for me) 
  • to make ‘victims’ the perpetrators
-you provoked first eg. conversion / beef eating etc
-we have proof that your boys were throwing stones
-you are the problem
  • to ‘hook’ us, make us reactionary
-we are sucked up into their agenda
-they set the terms and conditions
-we often play along
-we become defocused from our main work
  • to create panic and fear
-through attacks, burning, looting, raping
-vandalising / desecration
-scattering the flock 
  • to run with the hare and hunt with the hound
-propagate the “development” model / “tolerance for all”
-permit hate speeches / attacks
-introduce anti-minority and draconian legislations
-we are not “responsible” for what they do
  • to infiltrate
-government and bureaucracy
-police and judiciary
-educational system / media
  • to woo the corporate sector, the rich and the powerful
-allow them to do what they want
-flout laws, by pass rules and regulations
-use their planes and other facilities (institutionalize corruption)
-help them to take over the media

OUR RESPONSE

Our response therefore, has to be multi-dimensional: a non-reactionary one, appropriate and focussed – and as a citizen of the country; these could include:
  • to be aware of their strategies (do not be ‘naive’)
  • to be united: work in tandem; complement one another; cooperation not
  • competition
  • to do a reality check: stop being fundamentalists ourselves
  • to find new ways and approaches in ‘evangelization’; being a witness
  • to speak truth to power (to be visible and vocal)
  • to propagate Constitutional and Universal Rights of ALL
  • to mainstream human rights and value education in our educational institution
  • to seek legal redress against injustices and draconian law
  • to develop a spirituality that is incarnational 
  • to help in the contextual formation of laity, religious and priests / pastor
  • to foster an intellectual depth that is critical
  • to be inclusive; to collaborate with all men and women of goodwill
  • to take a stand that is prophetic
(cfr. PRASHANT document “WE ALWAYS NEED TO BE PREPARED!” Oct. 2014)

CONCLUSION
We can no longer remain silent.
“All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world – is for the good people to do nothing” – Edmund Burke
We need to get our ACT TOGETHER NOW!


“WE ALWAYS NEED TO BE PREPARED!”

I PRAY
  • pray without ceasing
  • read, pray and meditate on Mt 25:1-13
  • organize special prayers in our parishes / institutions
  • keep our churches / chapels / prayer halls open for prayer
  • pray with our Christian brethren (also in their churches)
  • conduct / join meaningful inter-faith prayer (Sarva Dharma Prathna)
  • be sensitive (our prayers and other programmes need not be “jarring”/“blasting”/ a nuisance to others
DO NOT “FIRE CRACKERS” nor use high decibel speakers – specially
after 10.00 pm (remember that many of our neighbours are little children or elderly persons and perhaps even sick)

(cfr. the Supreme Court rulings on these matters)

what does Jesus say about “praying?”

II DIALOGUE
  • keep avenues of dialogue always open with all
  • do not get co-opted or provide legitimacy in any way to fascists/ fundamentalists
  • do not be naïve...dialogue is always in the context of respect, equity and dignity.
  • participate in Festivals/Prayers of others and invite them to ours
  • strengthen areas that unite/connect (search for commonalities/ connectors)
  • take a stand against divisiveness/biases/prejudices
  • network and collaborate with other secular/like-minded individuals / groups
III STUDY - DOCUMENT - WRITE
  • study and analyze the situation
  • study the ideology of fascists; learn how they operate (“divide and rule”)
  • study the Constitution of India; existing laws
  • do not limit yourself to issues involving Christians only; get involved in ALL
  • Human Rights issues, sp. in the defense of dalits, tribals, women, children, differently-abled persons, other minority/vulnerable groups
  • collect “Patrikas” and other relevant literature (sp. derogatory ones)
  • document Newspaper / Journal articles on topical / sensitive, relevant issues
  • video / audio record inflammatory speeches / proceedings
  • write articles / letters to the Editor in national / local / vernacular newspapers /
  • journals on crucial issues
  • use “The Right to Information” Act to get information from / of the Government (Govt.officials/spending)

IV STAND UP FOR TRUTH, HUMAN RIGHTS, JUSTICE AND PEACE

“Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.” (Pope Francis in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ # 218)

  • fear ONLY God and no one else; stand up ALWAYS for Truth and Justice.
  • join/support other initiatives like the PUCL, INSAF, MSD, CJP, ANHAD, etc. (contact us for details)
  • participate also in the activities / initiatives / programmes of other like minded individuals / NGOs / groups
  • publicize secular efforts / initiatives in our churches / institutions
  • screen films on social issues like “Parzania”, “Final Solution”, “Dharm”, “Well Done, Abba!”, “Mr. & Mrs. Iyer”
  • be visible on important issues:speak out; participate in campaigns/dharnas/rallies; sign online petitions
  • keep at a distance ALL vested interests. Do not let them compromise you.
  • beware of getting involved in issues/ politics which make us sectarian /fundamentalist/exclusive
  • denounce Communalism, Corruption, Casteism, Consumerism, Criminalisation of society/politics
  • organize programmes/seminars/workshops on human rights/relevant issues/legal literacy/topical issues
  • constitute village/mohalla/Parish Justice and Peace Committees (JPCs)
  • initiate Constitutional Values/Peace Education/Human Rights Education in your Schools/Institutions
  • use value education books from KHOJ RESOURCES (www.khojedu.net ) and/or the “YES WE CAN” series (by RATNA SAGAR www.ratnasagar.com )
  • celebrate UN/special days like Women’s Day (March 8th), Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21st), Oscar Romero Day (March 24th), Ambedkar Jayanti (April 14th), Environment Day (June 5th), Indigenous People’s Day (August 9th), Day of Non-Violence (October 2nd), Human Rights Day (December 10th)
  • identify trouble makers/peace breakers/ rumour mongers/divisive persons
  • stop rumours/gossip (always try to authenticate things)
  • propagate the Right to Information (RTI), the Right to Education (RTE) and the Right to Food (RTF)
  • protect, promote, propagate Constitutional Rights/Freedoms & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
V KEEP OUR HOUSE IN ORDER
  • maintain and update ALL official documents (land records, building permissions, registrations, licenses) and personal identity cards (Sp. Elector’s Photo Identity Card – EPIC)
  • keep copies of these always at hand/filed/laminated / secured – with your ORIGINALS in a Safe Deposit
  • adhere to strict accounting/accountability procedures
  • ALWAYS BE Open and Transparent
  • never indulge in any corrupt practice for whatever reasons (taking/giving bribes etc)
  • ensure timely payment of all taxes (income, building, land etc)
  • know and adhere to requisites of the Govt./Charity Commissioner/Registrar of Societies/FCRA etc.
  • register Medical Personnel with the Medical/Nursing Council
  • provide the requisite bio-medical waste treatment/disposal facilities in hospitals/dispensaries
  • refrain from physical and/or other types of abuse on any one
  • pay just wages; have service conditions, give appointment letters (cfr. Labour laws)
(THEY HIT US WHERE WE ARE VULNERABLE )

VI PRE-EMPT TROUBLE
  • provide prior and authentic information/meet your JPC
  • contact / alert your focal / nodal point immediately, if you sense trouble
  • contact the authorities, wherever possible (preferably in writing) – with a proof of submission
  • inform the police (know your local police / station); request protection (ONLY if desperately needed)
  • remember “providing security” is also an official way of them keeping tabs on us! (Don’t be NAÏVE)
  • never panic / DO NOT give in to fear
  • check if your phones are tapped
  • never give your email passwords to others / change them frequently
VII ADDRESS THE “REALITY”
  • do not get provoked (whatever the reason)....be calm and cool!
  • seek the support of others (like-minded individuals / groups)
  • protect / provide shelter for the weak (old / women / children / infirm)
  • inform the police / authorities (always be courteous / polite to them)
  • be careful on how and what information you provide about others photograph / video/audio record the trouble/trouble makers douse out flames
  • do not destroy/alter/change/remove the evidence
  • do not underplay/exaggerate the reality
  • if a situation arises, start writing/computerizing the complete details as soon as possible
  • file an FIR/complaint(name people/be accurate). You can write your complaint in English / Hindi / Gujarati (or your regional language) and have it attached to the FIR
  • approach a higher authority (with full details) if you have problems with your local police
  • in case the police have written the FIR /recorded your statement, you MUST read it carefully before you sign it with the date and time clearly mentioned
  • ensure that the copy is signed with the appropriate seal affixed by the concerned police official/station
  • request a copy of the FIR/complaint for yourself (you MUST get it)
VIII BE VIGILANT

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty ! – Wendell Phillips
Remember that police/official interrogations in a police station and/ or our institution, must normally take place only during working hours, on working days. Police/Government officials should normally·NOT visit officially any institutions which house women between 1800 hrs to 0900 hrs.
  • DO NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION to people who approach you, who do not have an official identity and a written authorization (signed and sealed) or if it is NOT within their PURVIEW
  • check who the APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY is…..some officials demand information even when it does not come under their purview
  • study carefully the official/actual RULE/ACT/LAW
  • request full particulars of the person concerned (name, designation, address, email id, telephone/mobile nos)
  • LISTEN to what is being asked - NEVER be in a hurry to ANSWER ORALLY
  • request that the questions are written and a signed copy is provided to you
  • in normal circumstances, DO NOT PROVIDE any official information IMMEDIATELY
  • tell the person concerned that you MAY provide the information after some days
  • no one has the right to inspect any of our registers/documents/records/premises unless there is a written warrant from a Magistrate / Court to do so
  • meanwhile, contact a higher authority/ nodal agency for further steps and before providing any information
  • remember that very often, those who seek information come to you on the dictate of individuals/groups who are hostile/inimical to us and our institutions
  • a community/institution must have only ONE spokesperson(preferably someone conversant in the vernacular)
  • study the law/be legally literate
  • take legal counsel/be in touch with human rights lawyers. Buy legal booklets published by the Indian Social Institute, 10 Institutional Area, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110 003. These booklets have been translated into Gujarati by Ashadeep, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand Dt. 388 120
  • contact a JESA institution in your area if you need some help. JESA Gujarat groups are: HDRC (Ahmedabad), SXSSS (Ahmedabad), Sangath (Modasa), LAHRC (Songadh), RSSS (Rajpipla), Navsarjan (Surat), Ashadeep (Vidyanagar), Nyay Darshan (Vadodara)
  • circulate/popularize relevant books/documents/films by other agencies (there is no need to re-invent the wheel)

IX COMMUNICATE
  • learn to be communicative
  • share with others what is happening/ has happened
  • develop good Public Relations / Perception Management skills
  • join and use social networks like facebook, twitter, whatsapp, email groups
  • have your OWN blog with a social content
  • befriend the media: give them your point of view; let them highlight the good works done by/through your institution. Keep a data bank of media personnel (with mobile numbers, email ids etc)
  • contact immediately (phone/fax/email) any focal point that could take up your problem
  • send to an appropriate authority/us COMPLETE and AUTHENTIC
  • DETAILS (FIR copies, press clippings, photos, audio/video tapes)
  • QUICKLY (pay someone to carry them…. hire a vehicle) BUT DO NOT DELAY!
  • send a written complaint by Registered Post/Courier /Fax /email to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at: 
National Human Rights Commission,
Manav Adhikar Bhawan, 
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi – 110023
Tel. No. (011) 24651330 Fax No.(011) 24651329 email: covdnhrc@nic.in / ionhrc@nic.in
Website: www.nhrc.nic.in 
Telegraphic address: HUMANRIGHTS

and / or to the 
National Commission for Minorities (NCM) at :

National Commission for Minorities,
5th Floor, Lok Nayak Bhavan, 
Khan Market, New Delhi 110 003
Tel. No. (011) 24615583 
Fax No. (011) 24693302, 24642645, 24698410 
(Toll free Number 1800-110-088) 
email: ro-ncm@nic.in <www.ncm.nic.in>


  •  depending upon the issue / the victims, you can also send your complaint to one of the other appropriate National Commissions like Women / Tribal / SC / Children, etc