Browncast Episode 79: Mohammed Zeeshan

By Omar Ali 35 Comments

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In this episode we talk to Mohammed Zeeshan, who is a foreign affairs analyst and columnist. He has written for The Diplomat, The National Interest, Swarajya and DailyO, among others and is a founder of the Freedom gazette. We talk about the current anti-CAA protests, the current and future prospects of Indian Muslims and how they perceive the BJP.

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35 Replies to “Browncast Episode 79: Mohammed Zeeshan”

  1. This guy poses as a liberal but refuses a dialogue with those who think different from him. Labelling the Hindu nationalists as Nazi implies that a majority of Hindus (who voted for the Hindu nationalists) support Nazism. This kind of labelling is counterproductive. Most Hindu nationalists are open to dialogue. The problem is that leftists and liberals treat as untouchable anyone who holds an opposing view. When you label someone as Nazi, it implies that that person is untouchable or mentally deranged and is fit to be excluded from all society. This is a kind of liberal fundamentalism practiced by most Indian leftists and liberals. When you look at Indian progressives, they demonize the entire Hindu community especially the so-called “Savarna”. While doing so, they themselves practice a caste system by following the practice of othering and untouchability. Muslims of India need to have a honest dialogue with Hindus and Hindu nationalists to come to a full reconciliation about the wrongs of the past and what the way could be towards the future. With regards to Vedic nuclear weapons, this is another false narrative of Indian liberals. Many ancient civilisations (like the Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese etc) achieved wondrous things. No one fails to acknowledge this. It is only the Indian past which is always demonized and nothing good is ever acknowledged about the achievements of ancient Indians.

    In the end, excluding people for holding certain viewpoints will never lead to any good conclusion. It always leads to more conflict and fracturing of society.

    1. “The problem is that leftists and liberals treat as untouchable anyone who holds an opposing view.”

      The right does this far more than the left. “Go to Pakistan” is a Hindu right thing. Attacking people for not chanting Hindu/Indian slogans. Charging people for Azadi slogans. The list goes on.

      Many views of Hindu Nationalists are beyond the pale and deserve “untouchability”. If you hold rallies calling for Muslims to be ethnically cleansed from the country, you are untouchable. If you hold rallies in support of Hindus who rape Muslim girls, you are untouchable. If you hold rallies in support of extremists who destroyed the Babri Mosque, you are untouchable.

      “Many civilizations achieved ancient things”

      Right but the Chinese and Italians aren’t lunatics like the Hindu right, claiming plastic surgery, nuclear weapons, airplanes, etc. were invented in ancient India, and if you disagree, you are, “demonizing India”.

      “Muslims of India need to have a honest dialogue with Hindus to come to a full reconciliation about the wrongs of the past”

      Sure, let’s start with the Aryan Invasion, the horrors of the caste system, the Buddhists and Jain temples destroyed by Hindus over the centuries… oh wait, the Hindu Right doesn’t want to talk about any of that (and in fact are removing these sections from any textbooks that mentioned them). They just want to cry about what some Turk did 500 years ago.

      1. Ok lets say I agree with you Indthings. Lets move on from what some turks did centuries ago. They destroyed the holiest sites of hinduism and replaced them with mosques. So why not simply return some of these sites back anyways as it means a ton to these nationalists and very little to islam?

        If current muslims have very little to do with “what some turk did 500 years ago” then why keep onto the spoils of war waged by those turks?

        1. Exactly and why are these plunders heroes of modern subcontinent Muslims? Pakistanis are most hideous group of people as far as historic narrative of any country is in the question. All of their heroes are the tormentors of their ancestors.
          The funniest thing about the subcontinent Islamists and Indian lefty is that they try ‘monkey balancing’ by doing ‘atrocity archeology’ on Indian history. For them a few local skirmishes(in some cases pure invention) are equivalent to centuries of ethnic cleansing and cultural onslaught. Just like how they are always in search of that one ‘Hindu terrorist’ so that they can shut common people’s mouth about dozens of terrorist organizations mushrooming inside India.

          Why dont our history books genuinely teach about their atrocities just like we read about British raj?

        2. You are essentially asking what’s wrong with righting the wrongs that happened centuries ago. I agree by the way these were wrongs (destroying temples and building mosques on them).

          The problem is its ONLY righting the wrongs committed against one group (Hindus) at the expense of another (Muslims). That isn’t “righting wrongs”, its oppression.

          If we did archaeological excavations on Hindu temples across India like was done for Babri, we would find dozens, if not hundreds, of temples that were built on destroyed Buddhist and Jain temples. Should we tear all those Hindu temples down to right the wrongs?

          What about the wealthy Hindu upper class in UP, whose positions are largely due to the British stripping the Muslim gentry of their wealth (and often their lives) in the wake of the 1857 rebellion, and giving it to more pliant Hindus? Should those Hindus today have their wealth stripped and given to Muslims?

          Should Mahrashtra and its citizens be forced to pay reparations for the Maratha Empire pillaging Bengal, Jharkahand, and Orissa (in savage raids that rival anything done by Turks)?

          If not, why should only Muslims be forced to sacrifice?

          1. Yes give it all back. But only and only if such thing really existed. I doubt most of it really did.

            On the other note why do subcontinent muslims identify themselves with Turkish invaders? Shouldn’t they be on the side of native Hindus?
            Why are subcontinent muslims show no attachment to their Indic roots? Where does their loyalty lie?

            Now back to the question of the ideology.
            When would Islam clean itself of it’s supremacist stance and outdated beilefs?

          2. “Why do Muslims identify themselves with Turkish invaders”

            Probably for the same reason Hindus identify themselves with Aryan invaders.

            “Shouldn’t they be on the side of the native Hindus”

            No, they should be on the side of whoever is on their side.

            “When would Islam cleanse itself of its supremacist and outdated beliefs”.

            When Hinduism does the same.

          3. @Indthings
            Now do you call it a reasonable discussion?
            As usual inventing non-existent ‘issues’ to ‘monkey balance’ unpalatable facts.

            (1. “Probably for the same reason Hindus identify themselves with Aryan invaders”.)
            What is an ‘Aryan invaders’?
            There is no such thing with which Hindu identify.
            Hindus identify with ancient Arya culture which has has been transformed into their modern ‘religion’. For Hindus Arya culture is synonyms with tradition of ancient poet sages who had nothing to do with ‘politics’ or ’empires’ and who were not into any form of indoctrination(it’s deathbed of spirituality).
            Indians were wise enough to not pimp their religious pursuits into the hand of their rulers. Indian religion is the collaborative project of wisdom(and sometimes even ignorance) of thousands of men and women. Hindus were humble enough to know that single person can’t make life decisions for whole humanity.
            So where are the invaders you were talking about?
            But you can find invaders and jihadi worshippers inside every Islamist circle of the subcontinent.

            (2. “No, they should be on the side of whoever is on their side.”)
            Hindus are always on the side of subcontinents’s muslims. There is not a single reason for them to not to do so. It’s in their ethos to try to establish harmony between different ideologies. It’s the muslims who try their best to project a separate identity(which is always at odds and even hostile with our combined group identity) for themselves.
            When was the last time the Indian muslims produced a leader of national stature?
            or when an Indian muslim leader tried to assimilate with the rest and got respect from the ‘ummha’ for it?
            ‘Apostates’ are worse than ‘infidels’.
            It’s subcontinent’s muslims who believe in supposed ‘superior’ status for themselves and consider their ideology beyond questions.

            (3. “When Hinduism does the same.”)
            Hinduism doesn’t have any central authority or any ‘revealed’ book to establish such status. India was known for vigorous intellectual debates on matters of reality, existence and spirituality before one fateful day.

      2. Your reply reflects the exact reasons why it’s impossible to have a civilized and reasonable dialogue with Indian ‘left’ and ‘liberals’. Lies, deceit, whataboutery and sometimes sheer aggression are the means by which alternative views have been suppressed in India for long time by the leftists. Just like how non-Hindus almost always try to reduce Hinduism to ‘caste’.

        Loonies exist in both of the ‘camps'(even in China sometimes sponsered by their government, probably also in Italy) but it is the ‘lefty’ who have been belittling whole ‘right’ for decades. Other side was
        never allowed to touch their ‘heroes’, not to question nefarious institutions and beliefs of other religions, not allowed to write history from Indian point of view, not allowed to question their political beliefs, not allowed to subvert false narratives etc.

        As for Islamists even Allah(if he ever existed) can’t deter them from their stupidity.
        Do you believe if honest dialogue was possible with Islamists the Islam could’ve even existed with such strength on the subcontinent?
        In many ways a logical and civilized debate would be death of Islamic ideology(which Islamists can’t afford) that’s why they rely on rowdyism, brainwashing and self-victimization.

        If you think that ‘aggrassive’ ‘right’ is really a thing in India(which I believe is just a temporary reactionary phenomenon and soon would be evolved into something better) then the leftits-Islamist front has to take the blame for it’s rise. Decades of constant attacks by this faction didn’t really go well with the ‘majority’.
        Leftists are not even needed, the Indian ‘right’ has always been under scrutiny of ‘Indian right’ and has ability to take criticism and correct itself. But what about Indian left?
        Hinduism can take criticism, change it’s ‘tenets’ according to evolving beliefs, can accomodate as many ideologies in itself as possible and gives freedom to everyone to hold alternate views. Can autocratic Islam even compare on these matrix? Can we change ‘book of Allah’ to suit modern humanity?
        Can Allah stop burning innocent ‘infidels’ in the hellfire in 21st century? Can we erase tribalistic and supremacist ideology from Quran as well as minds of billions of people?
        The highest ideal of Indic religions is to live the human life in accordance with ‘Dharma’ while sole purpose of Islam is to establish supremacy of Ummah. Again you can see which ideology is trying to establish harmony in the society and which is hell-bent on destroying it.

        The roots of the problem lie with ‘left’-Islsmist side in India whose sole purpose seems to be annoying ‘majority’ in every possible ways and then whining when they retort.
        As for Indian society I believe it’s entirety possible to establish peace between different religions(regardless of what people in this thread think) here. But it’s a daunting task and ‘Hindus’ have to be forerunners of this change.

      3. “The right does this far more than the left.”
        There is plenty of blame to go around. Some of the wonderful vocabulary of the Indian left to describe those who they disagree with: *Sanghi, Bhakt, Nazi, Gaumutra, Chaddi, Fascist*

        “Many views of Hindu Nationalists are beyond the pale and deserve “untouchability”.”
        Most of these events are either fake news or done by a tiny minority. The vast majority of Hindu nationalists are reasonable, educated and always ready for a dialogue.

        “Right but the Chinese and Italians aren’t lunatics like the Hindu right”
        The Indian progressives want a kind of cultural revolution in India where the whole of Hindu past of India is erased. This kind of blanket condemnation of a civilisational heritage was carried out by the left academia and secularist politicians for 70 years in India. Naturally this kind of historical cleansing brings out extreme emotions. Instead it is better to acknowledge the real achievements of Indians in surgery, mathematics etc. while discarding false claims like “nuclear bombs” etc. But who is doing this?

        “Sure, let’s start with the Aryan Invasion, the horrors of the caste system, the Buddhists and Jain temples destroyed by Hindus over the centuries”
        Sure these things happened. There is no perfect society anywhere in the world. Many societies practiced slavery until very recently. Even today, India has a big problem of bonded labour (similar to slavery). The problem comes when historical truth begins to lose precedence. In India, history has been whitewashed (Islamic conquerors did nothing wrong) or blackwashed (Indian history reduced to a mere history of horror of caste). The truth is mostly somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, very few are willing or even capable to have a nuanced dialogue about the history of India.

        1. Unfortunately, very few are willing or even capable to have a nuanced dialogue about the history of India.

          I have said this before on these forums and will say it again: this is arrant nonsense. I don’t know if you grew up in India or how old you are, but as someone who was born in the late ’70s in India and raised in this country, we never had the kinds of historical distortions that Hindu nationalists love to paint. We knew and learned about the depredations of the Muslim invaders from Qasim and Ghazni onwards, and about the bigotry of Aurangzeb, etc. This was all common knowledge. There was no denigration of Hinduism in popular culture (I wasn’t privy to Lutyens circles so know nothing about that.)

          As I have discovered in my adulthood, there was indeed a Marxist-inflected stream of “scholarship” that tried to whitewash what the invaders and Muslim rulers did, but these were restricted to esoteric academic circles. But they make for good targets now, so people exaggerate their prevalence and impact.

          1. @numinous
            I think it accentuated more after advent of social-media. But can you deny the faction of all type of ideologies in India against the side which is called ‘Hindu right’. Moreover the Marxist-leftist narrative is much more subtle and destructive than mere white-washing of Ghaznis and Khiljis.
            Isn’t it funny that all of Islamists in India are ‘liberals’?

        2. ““Sure, let’s start with the Aryan Invasion, the horrors of the caste system, the Buddhists and Jain temples destroyed by Hindus over the centuries”
          Sure these things happened.”

          When did these happen – all except the caste system ?

      4. “lunatics like the Hindu right, claiming plastic surgery, nuclear weapons, airplanes, etc. ”

        A good example of the disease in question. While claims of nuclear power and aviation are unsubstantiated, plastic surgery – e.g. rhinopasty – in pre-Muslim India is well documented.

      5. How many kaffirs did your prophet kill? How many imams call for the death of kaffirs every day? Stop being dense.

      6. This is dumb.

        Hindu nationalists have a lot of power, and will have varying degrees of power for decades to come . Not all the power, mind you (BJP is no CCP by a long shot…maybe closer to the LDP), but they’re a good deal stronger than, say, the GOP or the Tories are on their turf.

        There’s people who scream and anathematize about all kinds of political movements. Populism, Islamism, Hindu Nationalism, whatever. It doesn’t matter. If something has power, then like it or not, it has won its position in the discourse, and you ignore it at your peril.

    2. When you label someone as Nazi, it implies that that person is untouchable or mentally deranged and is fit to be excluded from all society. This is a kind of liberal fundamentalism practiced by most Indian leftists and liberals.

      I think you are imputing thoughts to Indians that are more salient in the West. People in India don’t know enough about Hitler and Nazis to either use these terms as abuses or to take exception to them.

      Most Hindu nationalists are open to dialogue.

      With due respect, this has not been my experience. Such people tend to go off on rants or descend into whataboutery when they are challenged.

      Muslims of India need to have a honest dialogue with Hindus and Hindu nationalists to come to a full reconciliation about the wrongs of the past and what the way could be towards the future.

      This is very interesting and gets to the heart of our current culture war. Can you expand on what you mean and what the implications of this are? What will Indian Muslims have to do in practice? Is there anything they can do, given that they are tainted with the religion and practices of the people who invaded us, destroyed our temples, enslaved us, etc.? (Those things happened a very long time ago, so can you comment on why people have suddenly developed strong feelings about them?)

      It is only the Indian past which is always demonized and nothing good is ever acknowledged about the achievements of ancient Indians.

      This is untrue. People (even agnostic/atheist ones like me) take pride in our historic civilization and its achievements. We did invent plastic surgery, for example (though I’m not sure how much it was put to use, given the absence of anaesthetics.) But when people make ludicrous claims about us having had airplanes, nuclear weapons, etc., we have to push back. Painting our ancient past as a golden age makes us give less importance to modern things (like science and technology and various other streams of thought that have only developed in the recent past) and instead try to pointlessly recreate those idyllic times.

      1. “People in India don’t know enough about Hitler and Nazis to either use these terms as abuses or to take exception to them.”
        We are living in the age of the internet. So this is not true. Everyone knows everything. Moreover, the Nazi/fascist slur for Hindu nationalists is used by English-educated urban liberals who are well aware of the historical context.

        “This is very interesting and gets to the heart of our current culture war. Can you expand on what you mean and what the implications of this are? What will Indian Muslims have to do in practice? Is there anything they can do, given that they are tainted with the religion and practices of the people who invaded us, destroyed our temples, enslaved us, etc.? (Those things happened a very long time ago, so can you comment on why people have suddenly developed strong feelings about them?)”
        The anti-Muslim sentiment in India is part of a worldwide reaction (for example in Europe, US, China, Russia etc) to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. This fundamentalism began to make a comeback especially since the 1990s with the rise of Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS etc.

        In India, the genocidal deeds of the past of Ghazni, Ghori, Khilji, Aurangazeb, Tipu etc. give a historical context for the same anti-Muslim sentiment. Muslims all over the world (not just in India) have to reflect on why fundamentalism is so rampant. Indian Muslims need to acknowledge the misdeeds of Islamic rulers of the past, alongside more recent incidents like the cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus, Moplah genocide of Kerala Hindus etc. Islam has always been an international religion with its global Ummah. So, after acknowledging these facts, Muslims worldwide have to decide about some ways to reconcile with non-Muslims.

        “Painting our ancient past as a golden age makes us give less importance to modern things”
        No one is painting the whole of Indian past as a golden age. Painting history as a golden age is bad. At the same time, painting it as a dark age of horror is equally bad. History is complicated. This has to be acknowledged.

  2. The Right also demonizes the Left. Terms such as “pseudosecular” “pressitutes” “Urban Naxals” and “tukde tukde gang” are applied by the Right wing to those whom they disagree with. In addition, it is the Right which sends violent goons into universities like JNU. Some BJP ministers have even called for shooting anti-CAA protestors.

    Indian Muslims are not responsible for the past deeds of Muslim conquerors in India. At the same time, India is a secular state and is committed to protecting the religious rights of the minority. A secular state does not allow minority places of worship to be destroyed for any reason. Its courts then don’t argue that even though the mob destruction was wrong, a temple will now be built where the mosque stood. This was blatant pandering to majoritarianism.

    1. (1. “Indian Muslims are not responsible for the past deeds of Muslim conquerors in India.”)
      This is true but it doesn’t mean they have been given the liberty to white-wash any form of bigotry(which has solid historic prove) perpetuated by any foreign invader or native Islamist. Moreover subcontinent’s muslims should not dismiss their non-muslim past and term their pre-islamic cultural practices as ‘jahiliya’ or ‘Hindoo’. Even more important the Indic muslims should discard many stupid phobias they have acquired towards native religion and culture.

      (2. “At the same time, India is a secular state and is committed to protecting the religious rights of the minority.”)
      A secular state can’t protect rights of only a particular religion and can’t term a religion as ‘minority’. For a secular state all of religions should be of equal interests. All of political parties should stop providing any religion specific incentive and the ‘minorities’ should stop asking for special privileges.
      How about committing to ‘Universal Civil Code’ just for sake of ‘equality.?
      Muslims are technically not even a ‘minority’ in India and I’ve never seen real Indian minorities ever whining. On the other hand Hindus are global minority.

      (3. “A secular state does not allow minority places of worship to be destroyed for any reason.”)
      So does a secular state allows destruction of majority’s worship place? Because it happens pretty much every year in India(and off course in neighbouring nations). Last year the Islamic mobs destroyed an old Devi temple in Delhi(under nose of Modi). This year a few temples during anti-CAA protest. On the other hand there are zero examples of Hindus doing anything in return.
      In a lawful state Hindus would have been given their ancient temples like Kashi Viswanath and Krishna janambhumi back.
      Can muslims give us our temples back or even raise voice in our support? Because it would create much harmony in our society.
      If they can’t then it means they are supporters of Aurangzeb’s legacy.

      (4. “Its courts then don’t argue that even though the mob destruction was wrong, a temple will now be built where the mosque stood. This was blatant pandering to majoritarianism.”)
      It was not a mosque but a tribute to terrorist, bigot, racist and barbaric Babur’s victory against the natives. It should’ve been gone specially when it had centuries old bloody history. See, Islamists think in such twisted manner and then complain about questions being raised about their loyalty. You can’t stand destruction of just one ‘mosque'(which was a site of a temple) but you want us to forget the thousands of temples and still undergoing iconoclasm.
      Just like how Islamists don’t find a single fault in their religion but dare to deter others from their religious practices.

      1. “Muslims are not a minority in India”– I’m sorry but 14% of a population is definitely a minority. Hindus may be a global minority but they make up more than 80% of India’s population. Your persecution complex is a bit ridiculous.

        1. Interestingly, till the early 1900s, the number of Hindus was larger than that of Muslims globally as well. Half of the world’s Muslims today live in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria, all exceptionally fecund countries in the 20th century.

          This demographic reality is also why you dont see as much enthusiasm for pan-Islamism amongst people of core Muslims areas of the middle East. Even put together they would be 20% of the global Muslim population at max.

        2. “I’m sorry but 14% of a population is definitely a minority. Hindus may be a global minority but they make up more than 80% of India’s population. Your persecution complex is a bit ridiculous.”
          A population of 200 million people is not a minority especially given that it is connected with a 1.3 billion worldwide brotherhood. Its a bigger population than most big nations of the world. When considered from international perspective, Hindus are a global minority with 0 countries to call their own. There are 50+ Islamic majority countries and 100+ Christian countries

          1. You don’t seem to understand that minorities and majorities are defined at the level of the nation-state (at least in the context we are talking about here). Muslims are a minority in India. That is a fact not an opinion. Hindus hold all the major levers of power in the country. According to the Sachar Committee Report, Muslims are more marginalized than Dalits.

            As for Hindus having “zero countries to call their own”, what is India if not a Hindu majority state? A self-consciously Hindu nationalist party has been in power for the past six years. This persecution complex from the majority community is quite bizarre.

    2. \Indian Muslims are not responsible for the past deeds of Muslim conquerors in India\
      True about past conquerors – though not about those who supported Pakistan through Muslim League in 1945-47 and did not go to Pakistan.

      1. Most of India’s Muslim population was not alive in 1947. They cannot be held responsible for their ancestors’ political beliefs (whatever they happened to be).

    3. “Indian Muslims are not responsible for the past deeds of Muslim conquerors in India.”
      Islamic fundamentalists in the Indian subcontinent have been carrying on the legacy of past Islamic kings. Cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus, Moplah genocide of Kerala Hindus, Godhra train burning, atrocities in Pakistan and Bangladesh etc. All these atrocities have been whitewashed or justified by the secular/left establishment of India.

    4. Get over it Kabir, Lefties use “fascist” and “racist” as smears all the time. Politics is an ugly game, and to win, you sometimes have to supersede the ugliness of your opponents.

  3. Heard first 15 mins. Zeeshan does not say anything new or a new angle on CAA. He regurgitates same old stuff which has been going on for last few weeks

  4. I dont think the invasions etc animate the person on the ground as much as the people on the internet allude to. The underlying reason for the animus here is the growing population percentage of Muslims. Another reason is the relative conservatism of Muslims when it comes to women in terms of dress and marriage/relationships.

    So the fear is increased economic, political and sexual competition. It will subside as the Muslim population percentage plateaus and Muslim women claim their agency.

    If past wrongs were the reason we would see equal, if not more animus against Europeans, but Indians who rant against ‘invasions’ are lining up for visas to those countries. Note also that European women are sexually liberated, Indians have always known this and Indian-European couples have become visibly more common in recent years.

  5. I follow Zeeshan on twitter, he is not some wooly liberal as have been characterized here. He is actually one of the few right of centre muslim .

    As for thw whole CAA debate, perception is reality. I think even if the Govt says now that there will be no NRC ever, then too these protests wont subside. It would be seen as a win by the protesters and the next step would be push the Govt on back foot on other stuff.

    Also these protests are not purely anti CAA protests but also amalgamation of frustration with political irrelevance(for muslims) , loss of secularism (for liberals, after article 370 and Babri judgement) and economy, jobs (for the younger lot)

    1. He’s a woolly liberal.

      Let’s put it this way: would the average American consider Dave Rubin or Christina Hoff Sommers center-lefties, as they present themselves? Would they consider Jennifer Rubin (no relation) or Max Boot to be on the Right, as they formerly presented themselves?

      It doesn’t matter what abstract views you hold. What matters is where you direct your energies, and what tribe you are grossly aligned with. Zeeshan spends all his energies bashing Modi and Shah. He’s a Lefty.

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