When the Indian elections were looming back in 2014 the western media was full of hysteria and paranoia reminiscent out of some science fiction novel depicting a dystopian future where human civilisation has all but collapsed. Led by the anti-Hindu rag known as the Guardian, we were repeatedly fed a constant feed of dire warnings should Narendra Modi win: massacres, ethnic cleansing, poverty increase and an end of basic liberty under a fascist dictatorship. But how far does this accord with the reality?
The Guardian prides itself on its liberal views. Yet as far as Hindus are concerned they might as well be reading Dr Goebbels’ Nazi mouthpiece Der Angriff with its spew of racist venom and crude racial stereotypes. The issue goes beyond just Modi. It extends to Hindus generally in a manner not found when referring to other communities and indigenous peoples threatened with extinction in many parts of the world. I single out the Guardian but it could be any western newspaper. Left, liberal, Marxist, Right, conservative, neo-fascist, even the ironically entitled Independent are all united in their denigration of anything Hindu.
In this they are joined by major media outlets, notably the BBC. Why is this? Why do these outdated colonial stereotypes from the age which saw the extermination of the Tasmanian aborigines as essential to progress persist with regard to Hindus? Is there something dark and nasty in the elements of western civilisation which it make it fear and hate Hinduism to the point of insanity?
These are important questions for citizens to ask in western countries having been misled by politicians who enjoy lavish lifestyles at the expense of the very people they have been elected to serve. By use of focus groups the political parties use clever spin and camouflaged euphemisms to deflect away from direct and embarrassing questions. The decline of civil society and the clamour for ‘rights’ over responsibilities has debased citizens into mere subjects who kow-tow to a nouveau patrician elite.
Think of how the Western public was hoodwinked into believing in the necessity of a war in Iraq. How many lives have been lost in a conflict which was based on the false accusation that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction? This is merely the tip of the iceberg. The political elite defends its own interests with a financial militancy against the proletariat masses that is sickening to behold.
Why do these outdated colonial stereotypes from the age which saw the extermination of the Tasmanian aborigines as essential to progress persist with regard to Hindus? Is there something dark and nasty in the elements of western civilisation which it make it fear and hate Hinduism to the point of insanity? In his 2007 book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, self-styled ‘reactionary’ conservative British historian Andrew Roberts speaks of “Islamist” terrorism” as the fourth major assault on the Anglosphere, following that of Wilhelmine Germany, Nazism and communism. On page 601:
For over a decade since the fall of the Berlin Wall, successive presidents and CIA directors had treated the threat of Islamo-fascist fundamentalist terrorism with too little appreciation of the true threat it posed.
Hence US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were justifiable responses to 9/11, and indeed much else. Unsurprisingly Roberts bemoans anti-Americanism and Saddam apologists such as George Galloway MP. But in doing so he has found himself in an unenviable cul-de-sac because it was his favourite nations of Britain and America, who dominate the ‘Anglosphere’ and form the core of the English-speaking nations, which are actually responsible for creating not just the conditions, but the actual ideological manifestation of this threat, whether we call it Islamofascism, Islamic fundamentalism or Islamicist terrorism. This unfortunately includes some of Roberts’ very own heroes, notably Churchill.
Patriots or Collaborators?
On 4 June ( 2009 ) President Obama gave a landmark speech at Cairo University. Entitled “A New Beginning”, the event was co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, that most prestigious of institutions in the Muslims world which includes the propagation of Islam. Associated with Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, the university’s scholars issue fatwas end edicts, as well as being active in missionary work. In his speech Obama sought to build bridges with the Islamic world and rectify any misunderstandings that were created during the premiership of his predecessor, George W Bush.
The speech elicited much criticism from Obama’s conservative opponents who said that he was being soft on terrorism and secretly harboured sympathy for radical Islam. Indeed it is common for the President to be accused of being a crypto-Muslim himself.
In many ways this is a replay of the election campaign of 1980, when President Carter was accused by Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. of being soft on Iran and the taking of hostages from the American embassy by Khomeini’s thugs. The bitter irony in this reductionist argument was revealed in November 1986 when the Lebanese newspaper Al-Shirra leaked that the Reagan administration had been selling arms to Iran in order to finances armed opposition in Nicaragua; in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal.
George Bush Jr spoke tough after the attacks of 9/11. This gung-ho all guns blazing mentality was manifest most devastatingly in the invasion of Iraq, a debacle which has caused untold suffering to millions who have become refugees or casualties to unending sectarian violence as that state collapses. In Afghanistan the picture is also bleak. But most poignant of all is that Bush ‘Dubya’ never actually attacked the source of the 9/11 attacks itself; Saudi Arabia. Indeed Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan, was warmly embraced by Bush in his war on terror.
In his 2005 book House of Bush, House of Saud, Craig Unger (former editor-in-chief of Boston Magazine) open with the startling revelation that while all flights were grounded after 9/11, Saudis in America were exempt from this. This was part of a bizarre relationship in which Islamic radicalism and America, especially its business interests, turned a blind eye to each due to temporary and shaky common interests:
America, the beacon of democracy, was to arm and protect a brutal theocratic monarchy. The United States, sworn defender of Israel, was also the guarantor of security to the guardians of Wahhabi Islam, the fundamentalist religious sect that was one of Israel’s and America’s mortal enemies.
As early as 1943 President Franklin D Roosevelt had declared:
…the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States.
In 1938 FDR had gained the agreement of King Abdul Aziz to grant Aramco exclusive oil rights in the kingdom.Since 1945 the Saudi monarchy had become very rich as American expertise helped in the exploration and manufacture of the kingdom’s vast reserves of crude oil. The Bush family, perhaps the nearest thing America has to an aristocracy, invested heavily in the private equity firm known as the Carlyle Group. By this Bush was not only linked the Saudis, but also that theocracy’s most prestigious family, the Bin Ladens.
Reagan sold AWAC jets and Stinger missiles to Saudi, and overlooked human rights abuses in that state. Women could not drive or go out unveiled or even unescorted by a male relative. Slavery was only abolished in 1962. The dirty work was done by legions of dark-skinned Third World guest workers who had even less rights than the Saudi masses. Jews and Sikhs are banned from the state. Practice of religions other than Islam is forbidden.
Yet all this was irrelevant as America vaunted Saudi as its close ally. In the 1980s Saudi helped furnish American arms to the Afghan mujahadeen fighting the Soviets and encouraged jihad against the atheist USSR. Vice-President Bush supported sending money to the Saudi-backed Mahtab al-Khidamant which was later linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who has served as Saudi ambassador to the USA, met a charismatic young man who had left a life of luxury to fight on this frontline in Afghanistan. This twentysomething told Bandar of his gratitude to the Americans for their help in fighting the Soviet infidels. This man was Osama bin Laden. Bush Sr. himself visited the region and praised the jihadis.
The Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, was seen by the CIA as essential to its anti-Soviet operations. But as the USSR withdrew in 1989, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan warned Bush that America had created a “Frankenstein”. That was to manifest itself in al-Qaeda. However the President was close to Prince Bandar, who visited the White House for Thanksgiving in 1990.
It was actually his successor Bill Clinton who took more direct action against Saudis, for example sending FBI agents to investigate the 1995 attack on the Military Cooperation Program in Riyadh and the 1996 bombing in Dhahran. Lack of Saudi cooperation was compounded by accusations against Clinton by the kingdom’s Republican allies who accused him on being totalitarian in probing too much. When the El Hifa plant in Khartoum, closely linked to al-Qaeda, was bombed by the Americans, Rush Limbaugh accused the President of bombing an “aspirin factory”. Clinton was ridiculed for his counter terrorist efforts, which included pressurising the Saudis to deport Osama.
During the elections which followed Clinton’s presidency the Saudi links of Bush Jr. were scarcely mentioned. Yet Saudi Arabia gave $2.5 million to Bush’s charities. American Muslim commentator Stephen Sulayman Schwarz further revealed a powerful Wahhabi lobby at work with Saudis giving money to CAIR, AMC and MPAC, while the Bush campaign strategist Grover Norquist actively courted the support of radical Islam in electing Bush. Norquist himself was a founding member of the Islamic Institute which became a bridge between the Republican Party and the forces of radical Islam, the adherents of which he believes share American conservative and family values. It was Norquist who brought President Bush together with Wahhabi leaders at the Washington mosque in the aftermath of 9/11.
Far from being a patriot he has been an active lobbyist for the Wahhabi state of Qatar. Vice-President Dick Cheney acted as a pro-Saudi quisling blaming attacks on Israel on the Iranian backed Shia Hezbollah, but ignoring the Saudi role in the funding terrorism against the only democracy in the Middle East as part of Riyadh’s eternal war against the Jews.
Since the 1980s this Wahhabi lobby has been hard at work in America through with many mosques being built with Saudi money and pro-Saudi groups such as Hamas and Muslim Students Association (MSA) having disproportionate influence due to lavish Saudi funding. While they have concentrated on demonising Israel their efforts have also rested on marginalising Muslims who do not share Wahhabi doctrines and ultimately threatening the fabric of American democracy itself. Stephen Suleyman Schwarz is an American convert to Islam who has exposed the Wahhabi-Saudi strategy in his 2002 book The Two Faces of Islam (Random House, New York, 2002). Page 243:
For Wahhabis everywhere, the party line is laid down in Riyadh, which simultaneously foments terrorist teaching and disclaims any responsibility for Wahhabi atrocities, as in the case of Bin Ladin. Friday sermons in American mosques have been faxed directly from the kingdom. Saudis corrupt Muslims abroad in exactly the same way that the Soviet Union once brought the loyalty of foreign intellectuals, labor leaders, and guerrilla fighters, and for the same ends.
In 1999 the Saudis rejected the pathetic and meek American requests to conduct a full and transparent investigation of the Khobar Towers bombing, just as they would later reject demands to provide advance passenger lists on flights from Saudi Arabia to the USA in the aftermath of 9/11, and also ignored demands that bank accounts of terrorists and their contributors were investigated, frozen and seized.
Just as the Communist Party of America acted as an unofficial arm of the Soviet KGB, the Saudi funded radical Islamic groups such as CAIR, ISNA and AMC act as arms of the mutawwa using similar tactics as communists who denounced all their critics as ‘fascists’ while styling themselves as ‘progressives’. Through such methods Shaykh Hisham Kabbani of the Islamic Supreme Council of America 80% of mosques in 2002 were run by Wahhabis. But this extreme sect only accounted for 20% of American Muslims. Wahhabis have therefore denounced Kabbani as “marginal”.
The irony is not lost. While Obama’s right-wing detractors accuse him of everything from backing terrorism to lying about his religious beliefs and even birth right, the Saudis were essential in getting Bush elected, according to Norquist. Hence his soft line to the terrorist state even after 9/11. He pointedly ignored the Saudi role in the terrorist attack even while Abu Zulaydah, al-Qaeda operative caught in Peshawar on 28 March 2002, broke under interrogation to reveal links to Prince Sultan and Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir.
He also confessed that Prince Ahmed knew that 9/11 was going to take place. By attacking Iraq, Bush not only deflected attention from the real culprits, but also did Osama’s dirty work for him. Behind the image of an all-American patriot, the sad reality revealed by Unger is a president who as never before is dependant on a foreign power that is ideologically and theologically committed to the destruction of American and the American way of life:
Where is George Orwell when we need him? Because we Americans need him. We desperately need him. Consider: in August 2001, immediately after reading a memo entitled “Bin Ladin determined to strike the US”, President George Bush never called a meeting to discuss the issue. A poll just after the Republican convention in 2004 showed that 27% of the voters preferred Bush to his Democratic opponent when it came to national security. Yet the increasingly clear truth is that Bush is actually soft on terror and that he has repeatedly turned a blind eye, particularly on Saudi Arabia.
Wahhabism: A Very British Affair
Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Wahhab (1703-92) was a theologian from the Najd region of Arabia. In 1744 he launched a purification movement within Islam, believing that it would return to its original message. In 1747 this took more concrete moves. Through marriage, ties were cemented with a bandit tribe, giving the brigands religious credentials and theological legitimacy. These were the Saudis. The Wahhabi-Saudi alliance was to prove toxic. Bursting out of the Najd with uncompromising ferocity, the Wahhabi-Saudi axis demolished tombs and holy places, and slaughtered anyone who did not meet their standards of Islam. In 1788 we have the first example of western help to the forces of radical Islam, when the British helped Abd al-Aziz ibn Sa’ud in occupying Kuwait.
Ottoman and Egyptian forces crushed the Saudis in 1818. Some were given shelter by the British in Jeddah. Thus they regrouped in 1823, again with the Wahhabis. The real change in fortune came in 1915 when the British entered into an alliance with Sheikh ‘Abd al ‘Aziz Ibn Saud to help dismember the Ottoman Empire. In 1921 he became Sultan of Najd, and four years later invaded the Hijaz to expel the Hashemites from the holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina. His rule over much of Arabia was recognised by the British on 20 May 1927, who did not hesitate to ditch their other ally Hussein. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed in September 1932.
It was born in a bloodbath. Ibn Saud was not averse to mass executions even after other tribes had surrendered. This included women and children. Out of four million people, 40,000 were killed and 350,000 suffered amputation under strict Islam laws of Wahhabism. Yet to imperialists such as Churchill, Saud was a dependable British ally. Mark Curtis, head of policy at Action Aid and Christian Aid, reveals Britain’s collusion with radical Islam in Secret Affairs:
Officially proclaimed in 1932, and to a large extent a British creation, Saudi Arabia would go on to act as the world’s main propagator of fundamentalist Islam, providing the ideological and financial centre of global jihadism. Indeed Saudi Wahhabism has been described as the ‘founding ideology’ of modern jihad.
Central to this British support for Wahhabi Islam and its Saudi crusaders, was Harry St John Bridger Philby (1885-1960), a linguist and explorer who had served as a colonial official in India. Father of the traitor ‘Cambridge spy’ Kim Philby, this elder Philby also hated his own country. In 1917 he was sent to Riyadh from Mesopotamia to secure Ibn Saud’s cooperation against the Ottomans and their Arabian client Al Rashid, despite the fact that the sultan had already confirmed him emir of that city. Philby appropriated British funds to help Ibn Saud and against the more dependable ally, Hashemite Sharif Husayn of Mecca. This British former official later embraced Wahhabi Islam himself. Saud and the emir of Kuwait would become the first Arabs to be granted British knighthoods. Stephen Schwarz in The Two Faces of Islam (Random House, New York, 2002) page 90:
In the late 19th century, Wahhabism assumed a dual pattern it would repeat at the end of the 20th: Accommodation by its Arabian branch with Britain, the leading Christian imperial power, while its Indian branch conducted a violent jihad against the same British in the subcontinent. Similarly, the Saudi kingdom would hold, in their own territory, to an extraordinary beneficial relationship with the Americans while encouraging terrorism against American interests everywhere else.
But Ibn Saud of course wanted control of the whole Islamic ummah. In 1924 he expelled the Hashemites from Mecca and Medina. Wahhabi fanatics destroyed tombs, graveyards, mirrors and mosques. In 1926 Ibn Saud called for a global Islamic conference to ratify his control over the two holiest shrines of Islam. Anti-Wahhabi delegates from India walked out in disgust and were later expelled from Saudi domains.
Arthur Herman has been professor of history at Georgetown University, catholic University, Geirge Mason University and the University of the South, as well as being recipient of Fullbright, Mellon and Newcombe Foundation grants. In 2008 he wrote Gandhi & Churchill. From page 272:
As the guardians of Mecca and Medina, however, the Saudi clan would spread a reactionary version of pan-Islamism, Wahhabism, to the millions of Muslim pilgrims who visited the shrines every year. Without realizing it, Churchill had tipped the ideological scales in favour of en emerging anti-Western Muslim radicalism – one that haunts the Arab-speaking world, The Middle East, and South Asia to this day.
John R Bradley is an expert on the Middle East who foresaw the Islamist triumph after the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. In his 2012 book After the Arab Spring, he sums up the creation of Saudi Arabia thus:
One of the most used descriptions of Saudi Arabia is that it is the “home of Islam”. Yet the country is a 1930s British geopolitical construct named after a royal family with borders demarcated by the heathen British. The Saudi ruling family conquered a vast area of the Arabian Peninsula in the 1920s with enthusiastic British diplomatic and financial support. Saudi Arabia’s first king, Ibn Saud, was on the British payroll, and many of his top advisers were British. And he founded the extremist Wahhabi kingdom in 1932 with full British blessing. For the British, the Wahhabis, although obviously barbarians given to slaughtering everyone (liberal Sunnis, Shia) who were not also committed Wahhabi fanatics and refused to convert, were nevertheless led by a pro-British king. His foot soldiers were the only forces that could tame the vast tribal territory that otherwise would threaten British strategic interests. What goes around certainly comes around in the Middle East with depressing familiarity.
Schwarz gives perhaps the most damning condemnation on page 103 of his book:
Had the British defended the Hashemites in the Two Holy Places, Wahhabism would have remained an obscure, deviant cult, and the Peninsula would very likely have developed modern political institutions.
Instead it come under the domination of a the totalitarian behemoth of Wahhabism with its secret police or mutawain, resembling Nazism and communism, following the French Revolution’s creed of dividing humanity into the virtuous and the ‘virtueless’.
When Nasser crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1954, many fled to Saudi Arabia. The Arab socialism and nationalism espoused from Cairo caused alarm to monarchies in the region, especially since the Free Officers had overthrown and exiled King Faruk. In backing the exiled Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis received support from both the British and Americans.
This was cemented when Prince Faisal founded the Muslim World League in 1962 to finance Wahhabi proselytisation, education and propaganda. This brought together Said Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhood with Abdul AlaMaududi who was founder of the Jamaat-i-Islam of Pakistan, and former Nazi collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In 1964 the British were instrumental in the palace coup in which Faisal succeeded Ibn Saud, which in turn was bolstered by a fatwa from the ulema. King Faisal’s attempts to formulate a pan-Islamic alliance among pro-western states achieved fruition with the establishment of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in 1969 in Rabat. The British in turn backed Saudi, along with Iran and Jordan, as a pro-western bulwark against the pan-Arabism of Nasser. Curtis:
Meanwhile, Britain and the US continued to build up the Saudis as a counter to Arab nationalism, and looked favourably on their pan-Islamic foreign policy. The CIA helped run Saudi internal security while Sayyid Qutb, before his execution, had openly admitted that during this period ‘America made Islam’.
Arms supplies continued to this western ally, even while the British were aware of the lack of basic human rights within the theocracy. The 1973 oil crisis revealed the dependency on which Britain and other European states found themselves upon the Saudis to ensure the supply of adequate and affordable crude.
This new relationship allowed the theocracy to increase its generous funding of charities and Islamic organisations abroad in order to propagate Wahhabism. This included the founding of the World Association of Muslim Youth in Jeddah in 1972. The Saudis also invested heavily in the British economy and the recipient returned the favour by training Saudi forces and supplying aircraft as well as military engineers and instructors. By now it was common knowledge that the Saudis were financing Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, the murderous President Idi Amin of Uganda, and the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the Philippines:
The lengths to which British officials went to nurture the relationship were often extraordinary. In October 1975, for example, a Foreign Office brief for the queen in advance of Prince Fahd’s visit to Britain included a section called ‘topics to be avoided’. It noted two – the Arab-Israel issue and ‘recent reports of bribery and corruption in Saudi Arabia’. The British government also provided a ‘large jaguar and an attractively leggy blonde’ for Mohammed al-Fawzan, the director of foreign broadcasting in the Saudi Ministry of Information, for his visit to London in September 1973.
Churchill’s Dream Child: Pakistan
In March 1943, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain preached to fellow Conservative MP and education minister Richard A Butler, that British withdrawal from India would lead to a power coup by corrupt and incompetent “baboos” and a resultant bloodbath as Hindus and Muslims fought each other. Churchill’s inflexibility on Indian independence is notorious. What is less well known is his support for Islamic separatism in South Asia. Churchill told Butler that in the event of British withdrawal there should be partition of British India to secure a pro-British Muslim client state. In her 2010 book Churchill’s Secret War, Madhusree Mukerjee writes:
Over the next years, the word Pakistan would turn up in the prime minister’s verbal and written communications with increasing frequency. This suggests that Churchill was becoming fearful that the Indian colony could not be retained for long after the war and was speculating about alternatives. A new nation of Pakistan, beholden to the power that assisted its birth, would possibly enable the United Kingdom to retain influence in South Asia and perhaps even provide a military base for future operations against the Soviet Union. And which fragment of India could be more desirable for such a stronghold than the rugged north-west, amidst whose “scenes of savage brilliancy” he had spent some of the most exhilarating days of his youth.
In 1946 Britain’s wartime prime minister feared that an independent India would leave the grip of empire to become a hostile power. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, wrote to him to criticise his decision to abandon India’s Muslims to their fate. But this was far from the truth. When Jinnah had called for a separate nation of Pakistan, Churchill hailed “the awakening of a new spirit of self-reliance and self-assertiveness” among India’s minorities. He saw communal divisions as the strongest reason for continuing the British Raj. He therefore welcomed the Lahore Resolution passed by the Muslim League in 1940 which led to the separation of Pakistan from India. But Britain’s wartime leader was only the latest manifestation of the imperialists supporting political Islam in South Asia. According to journalist Mihir Bose:
Rudyard Kipling, the great intellectual guru of the Raj, had long made clear his fondness for Muslims and his distrust of Hindus. He considered the Muslim more trustworthy and Islam’s monotheistic religion easier to understand. He was appalled by the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two great Hindu classics, and repulsed by the jumble of Hindu beliefs. Kipling went on to claim that he had never met an Englishman who hated Islam and its people, adding, “where there are Muslims there is a comprehensive civilisation”.
It was almost a Raj orthodoxy to believe that Hinduism, if not an evil force, was a dying system. Islam on the other hand was a religion the west could understand and with whose political leaders it could do business.
With the collapse of Mughal rule due to the resistance of this foreign imperialism by Marathas, Jats, Sikhs and Rajputs led to a number of self-styled holy warriors took up the mantle of restoring an Islamic state; despite the fact that in reality Islam had never conquered India. Emperor Akbar was wise enough to realise that he would have to compromise with Rajput princes in a joint enterprise. This ruler, who earned the title ‘ghazi’ from killing so many infidels, even compromised his staunch religious beliefs by formulating the Din-i-Illahi as a forum to bring different religious traditions together.
Pro-imperialist historians such as Andrew Roberts and Niall Fergusson who laud the British for bringing ideas of representative government, a free press, and other trappings of democracy in a supposedly more enlightened rule from the rapacious Mughals, nawabs and rajas that preceded them, ignore this very inconvenient truth: that Hindus had already dented the sword of a previous colonialism and even begun to civilise its most vociferous exponents.
Hence the myth that the British saved the Hindus from Islamic oppression is exploded. Islamic rule was already on the retreat and the exponents of jihad fantasised about restoring the rule of their true faith, even if it was exactly that, a fantasy. But it was a fantasy that the British were more than willing to entertain because the greatest impediment to their imperial expansion was not the residue of the Mughal empire, but the very real barrier of states such as that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which had European officers and modern military tactics.
For the British then the clerics who preached jihad against the idol-worshipping Hindus could prove very useful indeed.Such was Syed Ahmad Barelvi, who went to Mecca in 1822. He travelled extensively in Arabia and Syria and the incredible similarity of his ideas with those of his Arabian contemporary earned for his movement the name Wahhabi, though he himself had designated it as Tarîqah-i-Muhammadiyah (the way of Muhammad).
He returned to India with the mission of purifying Islam of Hindu accretions and establish a caliphate after defeating the British in a holy war returning to Calcutta a few years later in order to organize another jihãd against the British. He set up his headquarters at Barasat, and declared that India under British rule was a Dãr-ul-harb. But, in due course, his invectives also came to be increasingly directed against the unarmed Hindus in the countryside of Bengal. The British government at Calcutta had to take action not because it was bothered about what was happening to the Hindus at the hands of mujãhids but because the Wahhabis of Bengal were becoming a menace to the British system of law and order. TituMian was killed in the very first encounter with a British battalion in 1839. A number of his followers were hanged or sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.
Another movement on similar lines had flared up simultaneously in the Faridpur district of Bengal was the Faraizi Movement launched by Shariatullah, who had also had spent 20 years in Mecca and Medina. He had also declared that India under the British was a Dãr-ul-harb, and that Islam must eb de-Hinduised. Acquiring a large following of fanatics in order to mount his jihãd against the British, he also vented all his spleen against the Hindus. Shariatullah however died in 1837 without achieving anything more spectacular.
That was left to his son who had meanwhile returned from Mecca after a stay of several years: Muhammad Mohsin, better known as Dudhu Mian (1819-1860). Again jihad against the British proved irksome so he found unarmed Hindus a more attractive target. The last attempt at jihad to restore Islamic rule was the revolt of 1857, known as the Mutiny by the British who crushed it. But after that abortive attempt, the British Raj saw how useful it would be to use such fanaticism against the Hindus who were taking renewed pride in their past. To this end W.W. Hunter wrote The Indian Musalmans in 1871. New fatwas declared that British rule was not darul-harb as these Christian rulers allowed Islamic observances and rituals.
The Indian National Congress was formed in 1886. That same year Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan formed the All-India Muhammadan Educational Conference, also known as the Aligarh movement. He was a pupil of the famous Mawlãnã a Mamlûk Ali who was entirely a product of the Waliullah school and tradition. It was perhaps because of this relationship that he claimed to be a Wahhabi.
He had sided with his masters during the jihãd of 1857. Soon after the jihãd failed, he came out with a book, The Loyal Mohammedans of India. He travelled to England in 1869 and confessed in writing that they were without doubt of a superior race and civilisation:
Without flattering the English, I can truly say that the natives of India, high and low, merchants and petty shopkeepers, educated and illiterate, when contrasted with the English in education, manners and uprightness, are as like them as a dirty animal is to an able and handsome man. Do you look upon an animal as a thing to be honoured? Do you think it necessary to treat an animal courteously, or the reverse? We have no right to courteous treatment. The English have reason for believing us in India to be imbecile brutes.
Khan pointedly refused to support Congress and emerging Indian nationalism, and as such endeared itself to the Raj. He claimed democracy would put the Muslim minority at the mercy of the Hindus. He therefore fought any attempts for making Hindi on a par with Urdu and also led a hate campaign against the Indian nationalists of Bengal.
We start with the firm conviction and seek to implant it in the mind of every Indian Musallaman that our destiny is now bound up with the presence and permanence of British rule in this country, and that in the government of the day we have got our best and surest friend.
In 1906 the movement won separate and special representation for Muslims from Lord Minto. That same year it created its political mouthpiece in the shape of the Muslim League which stressed loyalty to the Raj. Viqar-ul-Mulk said:
God forbid, if the British rule disappears from India. Hindus will lord over it, and we will be in constant danger of our life, property and honour. The only way for the Muslims to escape this danger is to help in the continuance of the British rule. If the Muslims are heartily with the British, then that rule is bound to endure. Let the Muslims consider themselves as a British army ready to shed their blood and sacrifice their lives for the British Crown. Wherever you are, whether in the football field or in the tennis lawn, you have to consider yourselves as soldiers of a British regiment. You have to defend the British Empire, and to give the enemy [Hindus] a fight in doing so. If you bear it in mind and act accordingly, you will have done that and your name will be written in letters of gold in the British Indian history. The future generations will be grateful to you.
In 1939, Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India, worked with Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah to counter the demands of Congress for full independence. This led to the Lahore Resolution in the following year. Historian Mark Curtis says:
‘Field Marshall Wavell, the British viceroy in India from 1943, was the principal proponent of partition, realising soon after his arrival that the Congress Party was not interested in post-independence military cooperation with Britain. By 1944, Wavell was determined to build up Jinnah’s Muslim League and withdraw British military forces into the strategic northwest, where they would seek to retain their bases. Pakistan, he envisaged, would become a dominion within the Commonwealth; the rest of India would be left to its own devices. Prime Minister Churchill had long rejected any form of Indian independence, but by March 1945, Wavell remarked that Churchill’s position was shifting: he ‘seems to favour partition of India into Pakistan, Hindustan and Princestan’ – Hindustan referring to the Hindu regions of India, and Princestan to the numerous princely states which Britain had long cultivated to ensure colonial control. That August, Churchill, now in opposition following Clement Attlee’s landslide Labour election victory in July, had a further meeting with Wavell, who was in London to discuss India with the new ministers. According to Wavell, Churchill left the meeting with the parting words: ‘Keep a bit of India’. Thus, although Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, has often been blamed for partition by decisions made in 1947, the division of India appears to have already been shaped two years earlier.’
Prime Minister Attlee washed Britain of outward responsibility for the massacres that ensued with partition by authorising the Indian government to work towards partition from April 1946, when it became clear that Congress would neither support the creation of Pakistan nor cooperate with Britain militarily after independence. By 1947 the British military chiefs such as Field Marshall Montgomery had become enthusiastic about the prospect as it would ensure strategic importance was retained in South Asia. In the conflict over Kashmir, Britain retained a pro-Pakistan position. Nevertheless it was the political right that was generally in sympathy with political Islam. Koenraad Elst in The Saffron Swastika:
Coming to India, we find that more than Labour, it was the Tories like Winston Churchill who opposed Congress and the HMS [Hindu Mahasabha] and supported the Muslim League. In fact, the Labour Party’s election victory in 1945 was a black day for Jinnah and a bright day for Hindu India. With the Tories in power, Kashmir would have gone straight to Pakistan (still advocated as only fair by conservative commentators), and a much bigger autonomy would have been guaranteed to the princely states, the nobility being the Tory Party’s natural constituency. This would have led to a fragmented India and therefore a much more powerful Pakistan. Till today, the bias in conservative papers’ reporting on the Hindu-Muslim conflict is certainly not pro-Hindu.
It is a sentiment echoed by Isaac Chotiner, in Out of the Midday Sun, from the New York Times on 6 July 2008:
A man of his time, Churchill was an avowed racist and white supremacist who sincerely believed that darker races were incapable of ruling themselves, and praised Hitler as late as 1937. Yet his support for eugenics and desire to repeal even the limited political reforms which had been granted to India made him an extremist even among the Conservatives. He was ecstatic at Hindus being massacred by Muslims as Pakistan was created. Gandhi as the “half-naked fakir” demonstrated to him all that he found repugnant about Hindus. He spoke of Nehru as a “caste Hindu” and of:
…caste Hindu domination upon the 90 million Muslims and the 60 million Untouchables.
In 1943 he admitted:
I’m pro-Muslim – the only quality of the Hindus is that there’s a lot of them and that is a vice.
This was the year of the Bengal famine, which at the very least, Churchill was apathetic about. Perhaps even that is being too generous. He told Leo Amery, secretary-of-state for India, that India was economically inefficient due to “Indians breeding like rabbits”. Two years later, in 1945, Churchill told his private secretary John Colville that “the Hindus are a foul race,” and that he wished Air Chief Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris could “send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them.”
In other words, he wanted the Hindus exterminated. Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India, privately noted, “I didn’t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s.” For that reason Churchill was unperturbed that three million of those dark-skinned inferior types starved during the Bengal famine in food shortages created as a direct result of food supplies being directed to supply the British soldiers.
Hinduism was cursed by “Brahmins who mouth and patter the principles of Western Liberalism” yet kept the Untouchables in “sub-human bondage”: rather ironic sentiments for a man who blamed the Bolshevik seizure of power as being the work of atheistic Jews, supported selective racial breeding through eugenics, advocated racial segregation in Africa, and would later criticise Harold MacMillan for his winds of change speech in Cape Town. Richard Toye, from the University of Exeter, in his 2010 book Churchill’s Empire:
He was to be considerably more positive about the Muslims who, in line with contemporary thinking, he counted amongst India’s ‘martial races’. During his Indian campaign, Churchill’s fear that they and other minorities would be subject to Hindu tyranny led some Muslims to consider him a sympathetic figure.
We have the respected biographer Martin Gilbert to thank for this invaluable information on exposing Churchill’s anti-Hindu animus. In Never Despair: Winston S Churchill 1945-1965 (Heinemann, London, 1988) he quotes Churchill as saying this on 18 July 1946, on page 295:
One cannot contemplate that British troops should be used to crush Muslims in the interests of the caste Hindus.
Jinnah had ordered India’s Muslims not to support the 1946 Navy strike against British rule. The collaboration with the occupying imperialists of course went much deeper. In a letter to Jinnah dated August 3, 1946, Churchill wrote:
As you know from my public statements, I am very much opposed to the handing over of India to Hindu caste rule, as seems very largely to be intended, and I have always strongly espoused the rights of the Moslems and the Depressed Classes to their fair share of life and power. I feel that it is most important that British arms should not be used to dominate the Moslems, even though the caste Hindus might still claim a numerical majority in a constituent assembly.
Further on page 248, Gilbert reveals Churchill’s alarm at Muslim lack of gratitude. Not for the last time would Britain reap its karmic rewards for its axis with political Islam:
I was, however, surprised to read all the insulting things that were said about Britain at the Moslem Congress in Bombay, and how the Moslems of India were described as ‘under-going British slavery.’ All this is quite untrue and very ungrateful. It also seems to be an act of great unwisdom on the part of the Moslems. The tendencies here to support the Congress are very strong in the Government party, and you are driving away your friends.
In this covert correspondence he also suggested that at some future date Pakistan could invade a defenceless India. In contrast to the cowardly and scheming Hindus, Churchill spoke of the Muslim valour and bravery.
In a letter to his wife Clementine in 1945, Churchill had openly mentioned “Pakistan” as the means by which he would deny Gandhi his victory of an independent India. In May 1947 he revealed his secret bond with Muhammad Ali Jinnah whose Muslim League was demanding Pakistan:
By God, he is the one man who cannot do without British help!
If he remained intransigent in negotiations, Churchill urged Mountbatten to withdraw all British officers from Pakistani military units. According to Arthur Herman on page 568:
That was the message Mountbatten passed on to the Quaid-e-Azam. Jinnah admired Churchill more than any man alive. On hearing the message, Jinnah sat stunned and silent. He could not speak, only give a brief nod of assent.
Churchill was first in contact with Jinnah when he visited London in 1946 when the latter had lunch with him at Chartwell to discuss how Muslims would fare in an independent India dominated by Hindus. Of course the former prime minister insisted that the two not associate together in public (Gilbert, page 293). The creation of Pakistan would “save a bit of India” for Britain, and deny Gandhi his ultimate victory. Herman on page 367:
“I greatly valued our talk the other day,” Churchill told Jinnah on December 11. He sent a postal address where Jinnah could send him secret messages “without attracting attention in India. I shall always sign myself ‘Gilliat’ – the name of Churchill’s secretary. He urged Jinnah to use a similar pseudonym. In that secret correspondence Churchill assured Jinnah that Pakistan would have a strong protector in the British and would never be expelled from the British commonwealth. “If Jinnah is regarded as the father of Pakistan,” remarks one recent historian, “Churchill must qualify as its uncle.”
On 16 August 1998, the Indian newspaper Tribune in its Sunday Reading column had already revealed such dark secrets concerning the Jinnah-Churchill axis. Through the work of the late Dr Zaidi of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, the Transfer of Power documents took three decades to complete. These volumes are limited to the period from February 20 to June 30,
These volumes confirm that it was Winston Churchill who finally persuaded Jinnah to accept the Partition plan. Churchill remained consistent in his hatred towards India and the Congress. These volumes show that Jinnah was closely in touch with Churchill. Jinnah had met Churchill on May 22, 1947, a little more than a week before the Partition plan was to be announced. Zaidi has used Churchill papers, and some part of Mountbatten’s papers in the Transfer of Power volumes.
Historians have wondered who this Elizabeth Gilliat was whom Jinnah was writing to occasionally. For long it was thought that it was a fictitious name that Churchill adopted. These volumes clear the mist. Elizabeth Gilliat was Churchill’s Secretary. Jinnah was adopting dilatory tactics in accepting the Partition plan as he was opposed to the partitions of Punjab and Bengal. Zaidi does not, however, include other documents relevant to Churchill’s message which Mountbatten conveyed to Mountbatten. This message is available in the Transfer of Power volumes. The message was to threaten Jinnah that all British troops would be taken away from India, if Jinnah didn’t accept the Partition plan. Churchill had added, ‘By God, Jinnah is the only man who’s can’t do without British help’.
In The Duel (Simon & Schuster, 2008), veteran journalist Tariq Ali explains on page 33 that it was perhaps the British Raj which needed Jinnah’s help against the freedom movement led by Congress:
In polar contrast, the Muslim League had always remained on the British side. It was firmly supportive of the war effort. The British responded in Kind. Pakistan was, in effect, a big thank-you present to the Muslim League.
After independence the former prime minister criticised India for using military force in thwarting the princely state of Hyderabad from seceding and forming a pro-Pakistan state under Muslim rule. His political ineptitude was further highlighted on 13 March 1952 when he prophesised that war between India and Pakistan was unlikely. This was when it had already happened and indeed helped by the wartime leader’s very own divisive, communal and anti-Hindu policies.
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