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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Avoiding the backlash: The blasts in Mumbai are a challenge to Indian secularism

The seven bomb blasts that took place in Mumbai towards evening on July 11 - or 7/11 as it will surely be referred to from now on - were hardly the first terrorist attacks on India....

How will India react to such terrorism? Alas, the chances are high that it will play into the terrorists' hands. What the perpetrators would most like is for backlashes to take place against Muslims in India, and for a vicious circle of violence to then begin that brings them easy recruits and funding. These vicious circles of violence, "action and reaction" as Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the Western-Indian state Gujarat, once called them, are all too common....

There are now two challenges that now lie ahead of [Indians].

One is the obvious one that India's law-enforcing agencies face, to act pro-actively and nimbly to outsmart terrorists who can strike anywhere and at any time. The other is for civil society, which must refrain from the temptation of giving a religious dimension to such terrorism, regardless of the communal biases that sections of it may nurture.

If these challenges cannot be met successfully, things may well unravel, and the country that began in frightening communal violence may be consumed by it. [Link]

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