Why Secularism is the Pillar of India’s Defense against Al-Qaeda

In wake of the recent announcement by Al-Qaeda chief, Ayman al Zawahiri, calling for an Islamist resurgence, India has become the organization’s newest target, but despite the fiery rhetoric, the futile attempt to influence and tap into India’s 175 million Muslim population for recruitment hasn’t in the slightest had the effect Ayman al Zawahiri was looking for. The country has hardly needed to appease a perceived increased threat of Islamic terrorism in India. And subsequently, the video isn’t raising much alert within the Indian Prime-Minister Modi’s Administration, who despite a rocky past with the Muslim world for his handling of the Gujarat riots, has traded in his Hindutva rhetoric for boasts about India’s successful secularism. As his job entails, Prime Minister Modi’s foraging of ties with some of India’s Muslim leaders, which range from imams to businessmen, proves the prime minister seeks no repeat of the religion-based events that barred him from obtaining a US Visa until he ascended to his leadership position.

When probed by Fareed Zakaria on the journalist’s namesake program on CNN, Modi’s response to Zawahiri’s threat displayed a laxness and entrusting confidence in the solidarity and nationalism of India’s Muslim population. Al-Qaeda’s rhetoric appears to be more of a change of focus to maintaining the network’s waning global influence in the Middle East since ISIL’s hostile takeover of events unfolding in Iraq and Syria. Like a business, Al-Qaeda has essentially lost its market share in areas they’ve sunk costs into over the years, and now, to stay afloat, they must explore new ventures, one of which includes a doomed pivot towards India.

Few if any public officials will lose sleep from Zawahiri’s threat, and they shouldn’t. Al-Qaeda’s movements and expansion has been overlooked when compared to its more popular spin-off, ISIL. Isolated threats may come and go, but the ability of the group to invigorate the Muslim population of India is low, and the majority of the Muslim community in India seems to be in unison with India’s desire to remain secular, as would be the aspiration with any democracy.

Al-Qaeda’s threat alone is enough for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the primary foreign intelligence agency in India, and other government entities to expend an insignificant amount of energy on looking for signs of Al-Qaeda’s grassroots movements in the country, but the subject itself does not bear enough importance for Modi to address in speeches. Al-Qaeda does possess affiliates in the country, most of whom are concentrated within Kashmir, an area that has been and will be well-supplied with a military presence capable of handling skirmishes and small-scale military engagements.

India’s geographical location leads many to falsely believe that the country is susceptible to a rise in Islamic terrorism. This is not the case and despite the attempted marketing gimmick by a relatively mundane leader of what used to be the most feared terrorist network in the world, there is little speculation that India will encounter a rise in terrorist attacks. Save for Kashmir, fear-mongering of a possible Islamic rise across India is not only fruitless for what remains a minority group, but also an indication that India remains the world’s gleaming example of peaceful integration and co-existence. While its neighbors (Burma, Sri Lanka) have failed to stop past and present bloodshed between the majority and minority groups, India’s maintenance remains effective, and for the time being, sustainable in the long-term.

By: Arman Sidhu

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Asia

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: