Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jug Suraiya - Misunderstander Of Democracy

Jug Suraiya is a veteran journalist and an Associate Editor at Times of India. What sets him apart from other writers is the generous does of humour that he sprinkles his articles with. It seems, though, that the only area where he becomes ordinary and pedestrian like many other writers is when he talks about Islamic rule and democracy. I find it pitiable that after all these years of journalistic pursuits JS appears to have understood neither Islam nor Democracy. That might sound like a harsh comment on JS but that is what he demonstrates in his article titled ‘Cry Freedom’ in the TOI.

It appears JS cannot make up is mind whether Islam is compatible with democracy or not. He also discovers that Islamism, like all other religious or fundamental ideologies, is undemocratic as democracy is generally understood. That is where the stupidity begins. First, let me make it absolutely clear: there is nothing like fundamental Islam and moderate Islam. There is Islam, period! Islam is not just a religion, it is also political guide and the Sharia is the justice system. Needless to mention, under the Islamic political system all non-muslims are secondary citizens or ‘Dhimmies’. Surprisingly, despite having a failed state like Pakistan, an Islamic republic, as a neighbour most of our intellectuals are unwilling to see the truth. And the truth is Islamic rule and democracy are NOT compatible.

Here’s how JS starts off: “But even as cheering crowds celebrate their liberation, how secure is their new-found freedom? What form of governance will replace dictatorship? Will the newly-planted seed of democracy flower or will it fall upon the barren soil of another form of repression?” If he were in a race, JS would be faulted for a wrong start. Freedom from a dictator is not the same as a desire for democracy as we understand it. What in the world makes such intellectuals believe there is a ‘newly-planted seed of democracy’? Any mullah in any corner of the world will tell you that they do not respect ‘man-made’ concepts like democracy. Therefore, an Islamic system which follows the word of God, is the only acceptable form of life and rule for Islamists.

Contrary to the claims of Islamophobes, Islam and democracy are perfectly compatible. For example, India's large Muslim community participates in the dance of democracy with as much enthusiasm as do its co-citizens of other faiths. That said, Libya's interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, while emphasising that his newly-liberated country will be a 'moderate' Muslim state..”. What a load of rubbish! Here’s a challenge to JS: Conduct a referendum among all muslims in India and find out if they want India to be a democracy as it is or to be an Islamic republic. He will find the real answer. He is also blind to the reality that where muslims are in majority, like in Kashmir, they already want an Islamic system. It is no secret that within their own community muslims in India, despite democracy, practice their own set of codes and laws. That includes polygamy and Talaaq as he indicates will be practiced in Libya. Dance of democracy? This is another idiotic phrase coined by TOI. It almost sounds like the dance of cannibals before they feast on their hunted. Democracy is not a dance, it’s a serious process! And once again the misleading quote is about “moderate muslim state”.

The first sign of being moderate is the willingness to reform based on current realities. I wonder when intellectuals like JS will wake up and realise there is nothing moderate about a religion and its laws that are not subject to reform. Would killing of apostates be abolished in Islam? Hmmm! Killing a non-muslim in an Islamic state is not the same as killing a muslim. Homosexuals are punishable with death. Is that moderate and will that be reformed?

India’s muslims participate in the so called dance of democracy because there is no other choice. There is no way the majority Hindu community and other communities would have it any other way. If democracy survives in India it is primarily because of Hindus and Hindu tolerance and not for any other reason, despite many threats it has faced.

Islamism, like all other kinds of religious or ideological fundamentalism, is essentially undemocratic, as the term 'democracy' is generally understood. But what if an Islamist, or other fundamentalist, regime is democratically voted into power? Is that a travesty of democracy or a paradoxical affirmation?.....For instance, in Gujarat, chief minister Narendra Modi was voted back into office by popular mandate despite his alleged involvement in the post-Godhra riots, and the subsequent cover-up that his administration is said to have engineered. Modi's brand of pro-majority fundamentalism - which has earned the name of Moditva - claims legitimacy through the ballot box: electoral victory as the equivalent of a dip in the holy Ganga which washes away all supposed sins of omission and commission”. Ideologies that are undemocractic were basically created by ‘intolerant’ people. Christianity managed to reform itself to a very large extent. The freest civilisation of Hindus managed to reform many of their evil practices. Even the Supreme Court of India is on record stating only Hindu practices are reformed by the government. So, the stupid logic that the possibility of being elected can wash away sins coming from a veteran journalist is all the more baffling”.

Let’s do a count. In India many leaders have been unseated by law or public movements or even by journalists. JS discounts this important fact. No less than a dictator like Indira Gandhi was unseated by a court and then by the people. A.R. Antulay was unseated by scams exposed by Arun Shourie. Chimanbhai Patel (Gujarat CM) was unseated by the Navnirman movement in 1974. B.S Yedyurappa has been unseated by a Lokayukta and there are many more such instances. Who claims that electoral victories wash away sins? Most recently it was J. Jayalalitha and later it was Manmohan Singh who claimed that the sins of Cash4votes was washed by the electoral victory of 2009. Why bring Modi alone into the argument? Simple, for the liberatti it is fashionable to denounce his twin electoral victories as victory of a fundamentalist. The electorate is not as stupid as JS would like us to believe, else Indira wouldn’t have lost the 1977 elections. These were all peaceful movements unlike the ones of the Arab Spring which have seen violence as the tool for change. That’s the difference between democracies and fundamentalist populations.

But democracy is more than just the winning of elections. Democracy is not majoritarianism, the rule of the majority at the expense of the minority. A true democracy guarantees minority rights, with the individual citizen being the ultimate minority. But what if that individual elects to surrender her democratic rights not to wear a burqa, to get a job, to give her daughter an education?” Absolutely! An individual can surrender his democratic rights, the right to wear burqa and the right to remain in a closet forever. Howard Hughes lived his last years as a total recluse in the US, he didn't bother anyone. But deny a daughter education? This is where JS fails miserably to recognise that the daughter is an ‘individual’ too and she cannot be forced to give up her democratic rights till she attains an age when she can make a considered and informed decision. A daughter is not cattle for her parents to impose their closet beliefs. That’s life, Mr. JS!

What if an individual democratically chooses to embrace an undemocratic ideology or way of life? Is such an individual an affirmation of democracy or a denial of it? Does democracy include your right democratically to renounce your democratic rights?  Sure, that individual that JS so reveres can do so as long as it does not impede or intrude others’ lives or their rights or beliefs. Yes, democracy includes your right to renounce your rights. Democracy is not an ideology that asks you to exercise your rights every step of the way BUT it does expect that you will fulfil your obligations to society because it is made up of many individuals.

Famous American satirist and comic Bill Maher in his mockumentary Religulous on relgions had this to say in the concluding part of the movie:

The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken…..Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife……That's it. Grow up or die!”

There you are Mr.JS. In his movie, Maher discusses Christians, Jews, Muslims and even Mormons. Believe me, he has nothing to say about Hindus or Hinduism. Why? Because there is really nothing to say. So save the crap about muslims dancing in democracy in India. Given the opportunity that can change very quickly – ask an Owaisi or an Imam Bukhari. If democracy survives in India it is merely because it’s the Hindu way of life. JS is not just a misunderstander of Islam, he sounds like he’s also a misunderstander of Democracy!


  1. Dear Ravinar,

    Your Comments " Here’s a challenge to JS: Conduct a referendum among all muslims in India and find out if they want India to be a democracy as it is or to be an Islamic republic. He will find the real answer. He is also blind to the reality that where muslims are in majority, like in Kashmir, they already want an Islamic system". I don't think any Pseudo secular in this country has the guts to take up this challenge. Keep the Good work.

  2. Dear Ravinar:

    You have made the most important point that usually is either ignorantly forgotten or wilfully obfuscated by most self-appointed commenters. And the point is that "There is no moderate Islam.". It would have been convenient if you had made the associate point right then that "Islam is mortally dangerous to non-Islam".

    May I add a few more points?

    JS is off his onion and is thoroughly confused in regards to Elections, Democracy and Freedom. Elections, Democracy and Freedoms come in various hues and shades, and often it is difficult to generalize. JS thinks elections mean democracy (though he tries to sound like a wise man and proclaims rhetorically that democracy is more than winning elections), and that democracy by itself means freedom.

    1. Js thinks that the mere fact that "elections" take place therefore it is "democracy". In such a case even China (where single party elections are held) is a "democracy"! And since JS also thinks "democracy" means "freedom", then he must also conclude that in China people have "freedoms"! However, it is obvious that it is, at best, a limited view.

    2. Islam and Democracy are compatible but what kind of democracy will that be? So the term "liberties" or "freedoms" is to be brought in, not just "democracy". Thus in India when Muslims dance with democracy they are exercising their "freedoms and right to vote", they are not supporting the rights and freedoms of "others"!

    More over, Indian Muslims participate in democracy not merely because there is no choice but also because Muslims always readily and greedily take gratis whatever is available from non-Islam! Be it unemployment allowances and things like that.

    3. However, if as JS rightly claims, democracy is more than mere winning elections then JS must also tell us what that "more" cosists of, what is it? And how is that something, especially if it includes freedoms that we are used to, compatible with Islam?

    Further JS pontificates on the danger of democracy reducing to majoritarianism and the need to protect the rights of the individuals because individual is the ultimate minority. But he does not tell us whether Islam is compatible with such individual rights!

    4. More over, we believe that JS is so superficially knowledgeable that he does not even realize that if individual citizen is the ultimate minority then state is its adversary. Thus in such a case democracy and individualism are not compatible! Rather in a strict sense individualism is incompatible with statism, irrespective of the fact whether the state is a democracy or an autocracy or something else.

    5. Then JS tries to sound to be a wise sage by asking self-referential meta questions like "Is one free to surrender one's own freedoms or not?" He does not understand that the really important question is not "Is one free to surrender one's own freedoms or not?", rather the question is "Is one free to surrender others' freedoms?" and the answer has to be an unambiguous no . However, JS conveniently ignores that this is what happens in "Islamic Democracies", that is "Muslims voters are free to surrender the freedoms of non-Muslims voters or those muslims who want to leave Islam"!


    Thus the most appropriate point to remember is that Islam (even in its putatively "democratic format") is not compatible with liberties for and of non-Islam (even in a supposedly non-Islamic non-democracy). So Islam is not compatible with Non-Islam. Period.

    Even more importantly, Non-Islam has to be beware of Islam as Islam not merely incompatible, Islam is mortally dangerous to non-Islam. JS conveniently ignores this "Islam as a mortal danger to non-Islam" and confuses "elections with democracy and democracy with freedoms".

  3. @ Samalochaka

    Some very valid comments.. you almost wrote a blog yourself.. but yes I think some our veteran journos are simply out of sync with realities...

  4. "They that give up their essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty not safety". This was what Benjamin Franklin said some 230 years ago. This aptly applies to those mentioned by JS who opts to give up their freedom for oneself or for one's daughter.I had followed JS for many years, though I have given him up now,and my opinion of him is that he is neither a democrat, nor a humanist but simply as Islamist.

  5. @Ravinar:

    Possibly, we take your blog title "mediacrooks" more seriously than probably you yourself do! :-)

    Our journos are not merely out of sync with reality; rather as you often point out, they wantonly and deliberately distort reality.

    It is very much like what Sir V. S. Naipaul commented on media hypocrisy in an interview, : They think one fundamentalism is OK, that is Islamic fundamentalism. But that is because they are afraid.

    We are very sure that JS too is sh*t scared that Islamic fundamentalists will disembowel him if he crossed a certain line; however he is protected from the rest of others, for the others have committed themselves to some standards of civil discourse. Ditto your Burqa, Raaz-deep, Shaker Goo, the list is so long.

  6. Excellent post as usual and so true!
    Few days ago fardeen Khan also tweeted that 'Islam was the first secular religion in this world' hmm thinks he was on drugs so is Jug suraiya

  7. There is not one writer on the rotten Slimes who is worth reading. I had stopped reading Suraiya, Padgaonkar, Adhikari, Karakaria, Aiyar, De etc ......the whole gang a long time ago because they are so transparently worthless and biased.
    eg. When Abu Salem was in court, Karkaria wrote about his handsome, fit appearance, clean good looks ...or words to that effect.

  8. go to you tube and watch pat condell's videos.there are answers to the likes of jug suraiya and his ilk.

  9. Jug Suraiya and Bachi Karkaria are clearly a pair that have very shallow knowledge and Bachi Karkaria prides hereself on being very liberal but each liberal statement she makes is at the cost of common sense. JS similarly flaunts his liberalism which is clearly sans substance. He who says that Islam and freedom/democracy are compatible is clearly delusional. However, if the Koran is edited to leave out legal, socio-political and other aspects and only keeps the aspect of man's relation vis-a-vis the Universe (which is what religion really is), then there is hope. Sufism was an attempt in this direction.

  10. We do not know when people will free themselves from this illusion of Sufism being "peaceful Islam", or "spiritual Islam" and all that.

    Both Indian (Sitaram Goel) and foreign (Andrew Bostom) have presented those aspects which have been hidden from the common folks.

    Please read the following links and get an alternative version as well. And then you can make your choice.


    Libya Lifts Ban on Polygamy as Fears Grow of an Islamic State--- Jug Suraiya should be posted as Diplomat in Libya

  12. I am yet to find a serious writer in TOI. As far JS, he is a good humorist sans touching serious issues for he makes a mockery of it.His beliefs make him live. Why bother him?

  13. So I am assuming that you are saying Hinduism compatible with democracy? Really, are you really saying that. With our caste system, are you really saying that. Thousands of years of torture and subjection of dalits and you are still saying that. How biased you can be? Heh!! Stop taking about others. Try to understand some of the original Hindu values before talking about others.

    1. How COULD the "torture & subjection" have occurred for thousands of years when the last 1000 years were NOT under Hindu rule? Is it really POSSIBLE that forward caste Hindus inflicted that "torture and subjection" when they themselves were under Islamic rule? Or, do you believe that there was no "torture and subjection of" HINDUS (whether forward or backward) in the 800 years of Islamic rule?

  14. "If democracy survives in India it is primarily because of Hindus and Hindu tolerance", this is biggest joke of history. Democracy servives in india because of Dr. Ambedkar, the indian constitution created by him is biggest obstacle to convert india into hindurashtra.

    1. Your comment is the "biggest joke" on this page.
      Being the vast majority, if Hindus wanted couldn't they have DISCARDED / AMENDED the Constitution?

  15. There is a Global tolerance to Islamic and Christian fundamentalism ONLY because of the access to Petro-Dollars of the former and Mindshare through Media of the Latter. Their 'Supremacy' starts shaking when a M.K.Gandhi comes with 'Satyagraha' struggle or a Rajeev Malhotra does a 'Purva Paksha' debate.

  16. After reading your article I went through JS writings. Agree with you partially since JS didnt sound partial in most of his writings

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