Notre Dame & Babri Masjid

This status represented my initial thoughts on Notre Dame. Not all monuments are equal and the Notre Dame has a place in the global imagination.

But the care and honour Europeans give to their old monuments is a sign of High Civilisation. The Rest of the world would do well to learn from it.

I remember when I was in the *other* Cambridge (the other side of the dorm); MIT was busy “redeveloping” it’s complex and was planning to pull down a 100 year old building. I never confirmed it and it was simply hearsay but I remember feeling distinctly violated when I heard that 10+ years ago. Even as a *youngish* lad I’ve had a certain reverence for history and continuity..

Also a few more thoughts specifically to Notre Dam – France announces architecture contest to rebuild Notre Dame spire

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said in an address on Tuesday that he wanted the cathedral to be rebuilt within five years and be “more beautiful than before”.

I’m very scared by these words because newer and “beautiful” doesn’t mean better. In fact I think there should be a moment of calm, an excavation of the ruins and actually assess the situation before jumping into create a perfect or more “modern” replica.

Sometimes there is a beauty in ruins (especially those sympathetically restored though the Dresden Cathedral is an excellent case of reconstruction) and it is always an indictment on France that this actually took place. France has not had a good decade, to paraphrase HM, the fire of Notre Dame is capping several years of Annus Horibilius.

43 thoughts on “Notre Dame & Babri Masjid”

  1. The better equivalence for Babri Masjid would be to one of many Russian Orthodox Churches in Poland, that were of course destroyed during the Recovery, because they represented centuries of exogenous imperial rule.

    Which the world is totally fine with, apparently.

      1. We will have to agree to differ…I will also point out that we’ve had a wave of Confederate iconoclasm in America (that I also support), including multiple incidents of vigilantism, and this is supported by the chattering classes.

        Of course we all know the reasons for the different reactions: The chattering classes love Blacks and Muslims and despise Hindus. So the different reactions make perfect sense sociologically, despise the inconsistencies.

        In any case, unlike the monuments, it’s not exigent that every mosque be brought down. I agree with the position that there are a few (3-4) mosque superimposed on temples that should be reverted. The rest are fine.

        1. We could also do structural relocations, I have no interest in demolishing mosques. Simply in the reassertion of our Hindu past.

          1. The site should be changed to a temple. Whether the mosque is relocated or destroyed doesn’t matter much to me, though I think structural relocation would be much less inflammatory and thus better for preserving public order.

          2. Wow, just wow! In a secular state, there is NEVER an excuse to destroy a minority place of worship. ” Reassertion of the Hindu past” doesn’t cut it.

          3. Kabir u hold India’s “secularism” as a chain but allow Pakistan’s “Islamic status” to be shit as it wants to be.

            Your consistency is erm admirable to say the least

          4. Zach,

            Pakistan was formed as an Islamic state, so it acts like one, owning all the good and bad that comes with it.

            India acts like a Hindutva state domestically, but advertises itself to the world as a secular state. This is seen by Pakistanis as having ones cake and eating it too. Destruction of mosques is cheered, lynchings of alleged beef-eaters shrugged off, but this doesn’t register because India is “technically” secular.

            Also, a lot of historically Muslim land was given to India during partition (in East Punjab, Bengal, Kashmir), often partially justified under the pretense of India being for all peoples/faiths. That’s to say nothing of the Sikhs, who have nearly as little interest in being part of a Hindu-state as they do being part of an Islamic-state.

          5. If India goes ahead and becomes a Hindu Rashtra, then it can be as horrible to minorities as Pakistan is and I won’t complain. It’ll be another majoritarian hellhole. But secular states must be held to higher standards.

  2. I’m half expecting some neo-modernist shard to appear in the place of the former spire. This is the city where the Centre Pompidou passes off as an architectural marvel after all…

  3. Well exactly who is she referring to “Proud Hindus’ wailing & rending their garments at #NotreDame … ‘. I am pretty sure the ones who brought down the mosque (and their sympathizers) dont really care about NotreDame .

    Is she like the British version of that Rao girl who posted some months back on the Indo-Pak thing ( something on the lines of brown lives still being lost for white folks )

    1. @Saurav

      Gopal is a resident nutter at Cambridge whose views were as dotty when I was there many years ago. My wife was at Emmanuel and has even more funny stories to tell of her.

      Though she wasn’t well known then, but as much the rebel in want of a fashionable cause as she is today. Her more recent claim to fame is calling the classicist Mary Beard racist (for no good reason), and her gratuitous colour commentary on Cambridge college porters for refusing to lift her luggage. By policy Cambridge college porters are not expected to lift any student or professor’s luggage (unless they choose to).

      1. LOL. Feels like the “woke” white folks will really repent on letting us desis into their world.

        1. They already have – woke white kids are usually the ones who resent it most when coloured folks take control of the megaphone.

          It is a function of our hyper-corporatised world that there is simply one big megaphone. Localism of all sorts is simply melting away in favour of scale..

          The tragedy of the Kalash is one experiences by virtually every pre-modern community that disintegrates be it the Provincial identifies of France or sub-castes in rural Indi.

          It is not unfair to say that the World weeps for Notre Dame because it represents the architectural glory of our Preeminent Civilisation.

          Any global civilisation of Man that must emerge must share not only the Megaphone but the Magnifying Glass.

          All Lives are Equal, All Monuments are Equal but are they really?

  4. Regarding Babri, a salient point to note is that most academics agree there isn’t good evidence of the mosque being built on a demolished temple.

    The destruction of Babri by Hindu-fanatics is looked upon so poorly internationally because violence in the name of enforcing some (largely fictional) irredentism is how often a prelude to genocide (especially in Europe). This is partly why the Serbia is regarded so poorly despite Europe’s general distaste for Muslims.

    1. I’m not interested in getting into the temple debate, but I’ll say that “what academics think” isn’t a good heuristic given the frankly horrid state of Indology right now.


      “often a prelude to genocide”

      This stuff happened decades ago man. Knock it off with the fearmongering.

      There’s not even been a mandir built despite the BJP now having power at the center for 11 years since the event.

      1. Hindutvas cry themselves to sleep about Muslims destroying temples centuries ago.

        When Hindus destroy mosques in the modern-era, they tell Muslims to forget about it because it happened decades ago.

        The mosque hasn’t been allowed to be rebuilt. Shall I demolish your home and tell you to not complain, so long as I refrain from building something new on top of the ruins?

        1. “Hindutvas cry themselves to sleep about Muslims destroying temples centuries ago.”

          I’m guessing you wouldn’t dismiss the American Left’s concerns about century-old monuments in this way.

          “When Hindus destroy mosques in the modern-era, they tell Muslims to forget about it because it happened decades ago.”

          I was specifically discussing your comment on an apparently impending “genocide.” If it’s been almost 3 decades with no genocide, time to admit you’re grasping at straws.

          “The mosque hasn’t been allowed to be rebuilt.”

          There will be no mosque rebuilt, unless as part of a solution that divides the site (which I would favor, incidentally).

          You will have to accept that the arguments for bringing down certain mosques are strong (indeed, they can be largely copypasted from our American debates, which the iconoclasts have decidedly won), though there are other factors in play of course. Going forward, I have articulated structure relocation as a compromise for all parties concerned.

          1. Muslims are a minority in India. Confederates are not a minority in the US. Therefore, your analogy doesn’t hold.

            One can understand the desire not to have monuments to slaveholders and racists in the public sphere. Especially when African-Americans are still suffering from the effects of structural racism. Even then, those statues should not be torn down by mobs but should be placed in museums where people can learn about the history of the Civil War.

            Every liberal democratic state has a duty to protect minorities. Would the US ever tear down minority places of worship? I seriously doubt that.

            “Structural relocation” is not a compromise. Forcing a beleaguered minority to bow to the will of the majority cannot be called “compromise” in any sense of the word.

          2. I’m not aware that simply “being a minority” grants any special dispensation on this matter, or why that should be the case.

            Anyways, Kabir cares about the psychic effects of Blacks witnessing Confederate monuments in the public sphere, but he thinks nothing of the psychic effects of Hindus having their holiest sites in Mathura and Varanasi under dominion of a foreign faith, a situation that that said faith would obviously never tolerate were it the other way around.

            We already had a structural relocation occur with Somnath, under a secular Indian regime, incidentally. This is not a matter of “Hindutva,” this is a matter of basic decency.

          3. H.M. Brough,

            It is the duty of all liberal democratic states to protect minority rights (including those of religious minorities). Having one’s religious structures torn down by a rampaging mob made up of the majority faith obviously makes the minority feel very protected.

            African-Americans (people don’t say “Blacks” anymore incidentally) are a disadvantaged group in the US. Hindus are the overwhelming majority in India. I don’t understand this sense of insecurity.

            Our definitions of “basic decency” differ obviously. One would think that as an American, you would have been taught that mob destruction of a minority place of worship is completely unacceptable under any circumstances. But I guess not.

          4. Kabir has apparently shifted again to “mob destruction” (which I categorically oppose, favoring solutions like that of Somnath) to elide the matter at hand, while steadfastly avoiding an explanation of why being a “majority” or a “minority” is relevant to this matter.

            In any case, I have been eminently reasonable and willing to compromise, but I see that this is falling on deaf ears.

            I will leave this conversation with this essay from Pillalamarri, which really helped shape my thinking on this matter.


          1. Temples were destroyed in Pakistan in revenge for the destruction of Babri in India. No one on this blog is defending this. For the record though, Pakistan does not call itself a secular state but an “Islamic Republic”.

            India is a secular state and therefore must be held to higher standards than Pakistan. If it officially becomes a “Hindu Rashtra”, then Indians can destroy all the mosques they like and Muslims will have no right to complain. Of course then Indians would not be able to take the moral high ground over their neighbors.

    2. Says who? ISIS supporter, jihadist, kill infidels!? Hewlett-Packard consumers? For whom is taqiyya the top ethical norm? To repeat old propaganda produced for morons and half-brainers. Many of them in meantime opened their eyes but apparently there are exemptions. Those who still expect that 77 virgins are waiting for them with raised legs!

  5. @Kabir

    “Wow, just wow! In a secular state, there is NEVER an excuse to destroy a minority place of worship. ” Reassertion of the Hindu past” doesn’t cut it.”

    Guess you didn’t read my posts, I twice suggested structure relocation as a solution to the matter. You could literally copypaste the arguments for CSA iconoclasm to mosques superimposed on temples; like it or not, the case is strong. Nevertheless, I recognize that other factors (as you mentioned) are in play, so I’ve posited a very reasonable compromise.

    1. A mosque was destroyed. That was a criminal act. The people who perpetrated it must pay.
      Whether or not a temple existed there is completely irrelevant. A mosque actually did exist and a frenzied mob tore it down. That is completely unacceptable in a secular state. I can’t believe that people are still defending this in 2019.

      1. Given Indian life expectancies, most of the perpetrators are probably dead already.

        I’m no fan of vigilantism, and I’ve already proposed ways to pre-empt future repetitions of such things.

        1. You may not be a fan of vigilantism, but you seem to buy into the logic that led the mob to tear down the mosque. “Reassertion of the Hindu past” is not a good excuse.

          It has never been proved that Babri Masjid was built on top of a temple. Even if it were, such an action by a pre-modern king doesn’t justify the destruction of a minority place of worship in a modern secular state.

  6. @H.M.Brough

    Don’t expect to Kabir to represent your arguments in good faith; he is well known to shift goalposts and attack strawmen; he is indeed the embodiment of Zach’s “Liberal Muslims”.

    Also, fun fact about Notre Dame: It was built over a pagan temple that was demolished.
    Guess the Babri analogy works better than we thought 🙂

    1. I’m sorry. There is never a good excuse to destroy a minority place of worship, whether it is a mosque, a church, a temple, whatever. Some things are just not done in secular states.

      That is the liberal position.

  7. A province in Serbia, Kosovo&Metohia, is 100km in radius and had 2000 Orthodox churches and monasteries. Some of them are older than Notre Dame (Velika Gospoyina in Serbian). Most of them were destroyed by Albanians since the 17c.AC when they moved from today’s Albanian mountain to Serbia. They have no one their monument in Kosovo. Many of these churches were destroyed in last 20 years in the presence of US and Nato. They removed the second part of the name (Metohia) because it means church owned land to remove any traces of Christian historical presence. Now, with US and Western support, they are pushing to get into UNESCO to confiscate from Serbs all remaining churches and monasteries and present them as Albanian cultural heritage. Notre Dame bells rang in 1389 to celebrate Serbs win against Turks in Kosovo. This win was Pyric because the king and all nobility died in the battle and Serbia remained defenseless when Turks 60 years later came again.

    More famous destruction by muslims was robbing the Aya Sophia in Constantinople and transferring it to a mosque. Ataturk changed it to be a museum, but Erdogan again makes it a mosque. How many churches in former Christian Anatolia were destroyed by Turks who were so primitive aggressor and occupier that could not build anything for hundreds of years. Speaking of Notre Dame it is worth, for those who haven’t, to see again the old movie – Hunchback from Notre Dame with excellent roles by Anthony Quin and Gina Lollobrigida at her best.

  8. Xerxie, with your mentioning of Dresden cathedral you again found a link with old Serbian history. We already know that Dresden was founded by Serbs and they gave the city Serbian name. That was before Germans, who lived on the west bank (today’s France) of the river Rhine (also Serbian name), crossed the river and came to this part of today’s Germany. The following link shows many of Serbian toponyms in Germany:

    Just to mention that Serbs also founded the city of Berlin giving the Serbian name what is well described in Wiki. The Berlin province is Brandenburg i.e. Serbian Branibor.

    Well, at the entrance to the cathedral there are two old sculptures, representing guards of the city of Dresden. It is a cultural monument under UNESCO protection, where two soldiers are guarding the entrance to the famous Dresden cathedral. One of them has a Serbian coat of arms on the shield which is used in continuity from Vinca (5000BC) until today (cross with 4 Cs).

    In front of the cathedral is the monument to the founder of the Protestant church who also had Serbian origins, Martin Luther.

  9. India acts like a Hindutva state domestically, but advertises itself to the world as a secular state. This is seen by Pakistanis as having ones cake and eating it too.

    Feels so nice!
    Don’t get jealy. Have a piece of cake.

  10. LOL, yeah i was a bit curious as to what “cake”he was referring to. Its; not as if in any international multilateral forums you get some extra points just because you happened to be secular or democratic.

    1. Yeah…India gets points because it doesn’t sponsor (or turn a Nelson’s Eye towards) militants. Being secular and democratic doesn’t really matter in international fora

  11. As long as we are “Economically relevant” like China is, we will be feted and can do whatever we like(yeah, even including supporting “terrorism”) just like China can get away by doing whatever it does with the Ughurs, notwithstanding their one party Dictatorship. And if you become a economic backwater than no one will come to support you even if you happen to be the most secular/democratic place in the world.

    In the 90s and before that USA /West supported a Islamist, Army ruled Pakistan over the secular ,democratic India on both terrorism and Kashmir. It had a lot to do with where both India and Pakistan were economically.

  12. This whole comment section is full of Hindutva people and Pakistanis! Is the whole blog only read by Hindutva people?

    What the frick. These people are religious fanatics who are calling for destruction of mosques.

    How the hell is any rational person supporting the Hindutva people?

    I am a an atheist btw. No hypocrisy. No bullshit. What is this whataboutism bullshit about Pakistan?

    Pakistan is a shithole Islamic theocracy. F Pakistan.

    India was supposed to be secular. Hindutva lunatics want a Hindu Pakistan.

    There’s no actual legal argument the Hindutva fanatics put.

    Just bullshit about existence of Lord Ram in court and other nonsense.

    This bullshit would never fly in America.American courts don’t believe in Lord Ram or base their legal system on Christianity.

    “Hindu reassertion”. Yeah just defense of fascist far right crazies.

    1. Agreed. Only extremists would tear down a minority place of worship (it doesn’t matter which specific place of worship we are talking about).

      I am continually surprised by the defense of the indefensible by Hindutva types (perhaps I shouldn’t be).

      Also agree with your recognition of the whataboutism regarding Pakistan. It is no one’s case that Pakistan treats its minorities well. But that doesn’t mean that India is free to sink to that low standard.

  13. In reality the Ram Temple movement has only serves to promote violent craziness in. India. Riots, murders, and rise of the religious fanatic BJP.

    Riot Yatra and everything else. Just violent fanaticism.

    Just watch these two videos to find out what this crazy “Hindu reassertion” means.

    This is extremism and craziness spread in Indian society for this god damned temple.

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