Major cities throughout the world have been rocked by demonstrations against the loss of innocent life in Gaza . Israel ’s response to the unrelenting terrorism by the democratically elected Hamas government of the Palestinian territories has been widely condemned as disproportionate. The scenes of hospitals, schools and United Nations feeding centres attacked by Israeli military might have had major political ramifications.
In Britain , Prime Minister David Cameron lost a key ally in his cabinet when Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from her position as Minister for Faith and Communities. In her resignation letter, Warsi wrote that the UK government’s “approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically” and that it was “not consistent with the rule of law and our long support for international justice”.
To her credit this Conservative Party peer had condemned attacks on the Christian minority in Pakistan and elsewhere, in the Telegraph on 14 November 2013:
“This has become a global crisis, and in Washington D.C. today I will be making the case for an international response. Speaking at Georgetown University and the Council on Foreign Relations, I want to call for cross-faith, cross-continent unity on this issue – for a response which isn’t itself sectarian. Because a bomb going off in a Pakistani church shouldn’t just reverberate through Christian communities; it should stir the world.”
She lamented how Christianity was becoming extinct in Iraq and Syria . Of course since then with the rise of ISIS and plans for a global caliphate the situation has grown much worse. The jihadi fighters armed western powers to overthrow Syria ’s Pashar Assad have turned their attention to wiping out non-Muslims, as well as Muslims that belong to Shia, Alawite and Sufi schools of thought.
As ISIS advances through Iraq it has given Christians the choice of death, expulsion or conversion to Islam, categories which are not mutually exclusive as even conversion has been no guarantee of life. Warsi’s prior concern for the Christian minority of Iraq have been echoed more recently by Brigitte Gabriel who founded conservative think-tank Act for America to highlight the terrorist threat posed by radical Islam. Gabriel was herself born into Lebanon ’s Christian minority known as Maronites, and has lamented inaction by the Obama administration on the persecution, genocide and religious cleansing of Christians in the Middle East, notably Iraq .
Warsi’s resignation has been lauded by many, especially on the Left, as principled. Yet if it was human rights violations that led her to resign, why no mention of Iraq in her resignation? As followers of a monotheistic creed that preceded and has much in common with her own Islamic faith, Christians can elicit sympathy from Warsi. But the Yazidis elicit none. This community follow religious traditions derived mainly from Zoroastrianism, as followed by the dwindling Parsi community of India . Yazidis also imbibe elements of from ancient Iranian Mithraism, ancient Assyrian religion, as well as Christianity, Judaism and Islam but also Vedic roots.
The ancient religion is rumoured to have been founded by an 11th century Ummayyad sheikh and uses ranging from Christian baptism, Islamic circumcision and the Zaroastrian reverence of fire.
The origin of the Yazidi religion is now usually seen by scholars as a complex process of syncretism, whereby the belief system and practices of a local faith had a profound influence on the religiosity of adherents of the ‘Adawiyya Sufi order living in the Yezidi mountains, and caused it to deviate from Islamic norms relatively soon after the death of its founder, Shaykh Adī ibn Musafir, who is said to be of Umayyad descent. He settled in the valley of Laliş (some thirty-six miles north-east of Mosul ) in the early 12th century.
The one deity created the world and left in the charge of seven angels. Most live in Iraq and speak Kurdish, although a minority use Arabic. At the core of the Yazidis’ marginalization is their worship of a fallen angel, Melek Tawwus, or Peacock Angel, one of the seven angels that take primacy in their beliefs. Unlike the fall from grace of Satan, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Melek Tawwus was forgiven and returned to heaven by God. Hence their beliefs not only distinguish them from their Muslim neighbours, but the latter also denounce them as worshippers of Satan and the jinn.
This has frequently resulted in inevitable bouts of intense persecution, such as 72 massacres by the Ottoman Turks during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No surprise then that they have attracted the wrath of ISIS . The Islamic State has justified its slaughter of Yazidis on the basis of the long-standing slur that they are “devil-worshipers.” Present estimates put the global number of Yazidis at around 700,000 people, with the vast majority of them concentrated in northern Iraq , in and around Sinjar. On 6 August 2014, Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi MP in Iraq , broke down in tears as she called on the parliament and the international community to “Save us! Save us!” from ISIS .
Having at last come to the attention of the world, this obscure ancient community stands on the brink of extinction in its ancestral homeland. President Obama has authorised airdrops of humanitarian assistance to help Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar where they faced starvation and dehydration if they remain stranded on Mount Sinjar , and slaughter at the hands of the jihadis if they moved. The planes delivered 5,300 gallons of fresh drinking water and 8,000 prepackaged meals and were over the drop area for less than 15 minutes at a low altitude.
Again that begs the question why no mass protests as there have been over Gaza ? Above all why no resignation by Baroness Warsi on her vague ‘principles’ when an entire ancient community face extinction? To understand this we must tear away the mask of respectability which the acceptable face of religious intolerance wears so skillfully. For example, take this from BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions broadcast on 27 January 2006, when Warsi eloquently defended an organisation that wants to wipe out Jews and the state of Israel :
“I think what’s happened in the Middle East with the election of Hamas is actually an opportunity and I think that’s the way we’ve got to see it. When groups that practise violence are suddenly propelled into power through a democratic process they get responsibility and responsibility can be a tremendously taming factor. And I think that Hamas, when it realises that it wants a safe and stable and prosperous Palestine for its people, will realise that the way to deal with that is through dialogue and democracy and not through violence.”
On 7 July 2005 London was rocked by suicide bombings on its transport system carried out by radical Islamists. Just 2 days later on the BBC Politics Show, Warsi, then an election candidate for the Conservative Party, defended terrorism in Kashmir :
“We have a community in Britain , a Pakistani and Kashmiri community, who holds a very, very strong view about Kashmir and the scope of freedom-fighting in Kashmir . It would concern me if… the definition of terrorism was to cover maybe (the) legitimate freedom-fight in Kashmir .”
Warsi’s ‘freedom fighters’ have caused the rape, massacre and forcible conversion of the indigenous Hindu population of Kashmir . In 1989 the remainder were forced out at gunpoint by the very groups which the House of Lords peer so eloquently supports. As the Kashmiri Hindus eke out a miserable existence in refugee camps for the last quarter of a century, Warsi did not find this humanitarian crisis impact one iota on her conscience when with a straight face she defended such terrorism as being steeped in the traditions of Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid.
As with the Yazidis, why did Warsi no make a principled stand with respect to the Kashmiri Hindus? Is it because they conflict with her support for the aims of Harakat Ul-Jihad-Ul Islami, Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen/Alami and Jundallah, Harakat Mujahideen, Jaish e Mohammed, Khuddam Ul-Islam and splinter group Jamaat Ul-Furquan, and Lashkar e Tayyaba, Islamic terrorist groups active in Kashmir which are outlawed in Britain?
Perhaps it lies deeper. There will be no calls for humanitarian help to Kashmiri Hindus. There will be no government resignations in Britain by anyone taking a principled stand on Kashmir . There will be no mass urban protests about the disproportionate use of force by jihadis intent on the extermination of Kashmiri Hindus.
While the plight of the Yazidis has been brought to the attention of the very western powers which have backed jihadis in Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, Syria and even the ones in Iraq, this is because these same terrorists have threatened Christianity in the region, to which western civilisation remains wedded, however tenuously. Hinduism remains strange and the unknown ‘Other’ and its followers remain relegated to the half –child half-monkey syndrome of a racist colonialist mindset.
Therefore it proved no problem for Warsi to defend the genocide of Hindus of Kashmir, and yet enjoy a high profile career as a government minister. The sick irony was that as Minister for Faith and Communities, she was responsible for the very Hindu community whose suffering she ignored. If the Yazidis had not been caught up in the cycle of violence which has engulfed and exterminated the Christians of Iraq and Syria, the western democracies could once again have conveniently ignored their plight, just as they have ignored the jihad against Hindus in India for over 60 years and the genocide against the indigenous Hindus of Kashmir for the last quarter of a century. Will that not have a detrimental impact on Britain ’s foreign policy and standing in the world? Is that consistent with the rule of law and support for international justice? Let the silence of the British, American and other western governments be your answer on this.
Hindu Human Rights is proud to support and participate in the demonstration in London on Wednesday 13 August 2014 at 6pm More Details go to Hindu Human Rights joins Solidarity Against Genocide in the Middle East
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