Islamism Rising in Idyllic Kashmir – Report from a visit to the Valley in 2013

"Death to America" yells this banner in dowtown Srinagar. "Death to Israel," and "Death to the Enemies of Islam" also grace the banner

“Death to America” yells this banner in downtown Srinagar. “Death to Israel,” and “Death to the Enemies of Islam” also grace the banner

“Today’s militant Islamic youth of Kashmir carry placards of Bin Laden in anti-India rallies and hoist Taliban flags, while their Shia Muslim rivals are inspired by Khomeini and Hezbollah. A senior Kashmiri Muslim police officer confided “over 50% of Kashmiris between the ages of 15 and 30 are hard-core pan-Islamists, not Kashmiri nationalists.”

Masthead

Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

“Death to Israel,” the banner screamed. Next to it was the now-familiar Muslim chant, “Death to America.” Further down the road, the late Ayatollah Khomeini stared down angrily at the citizenry.

As a large crowd of Sunday shoppers milled around an overflowing open-air bazaar, other banners showed Sayyed Nasrallah of Hezbollah, with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing his familiar sheepish grin.

This banner graces Srinagar's 'Laal Chowk'.

This banner displaying pictures of Hezbollah boss Seyyid Nasrallah and former Iranian president Ahmadinejad, graces Srinagar’s downtown ‘Laal Chowk’

No, I was not in Tehran or South Lebanon. This wasn’t an Alawite stronghold in Syria or scenes from Toronto’s infamous annual “Al-Quds” rally staged by Islamists belching disdain towards the West.

I was in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Flaunting hatred and celebrating jihadi terrorists was once unthinkable in the city referred to by a Mogul king as paradise on earth.

Home to a people of amazing beauty, culture and cuisine, where an Islam once flourished that was bereft of the harshness of the desert.

Where mosques took architectural inspiration from Buddhist pagodas, not from forcibly converted Orthodox Christian churches.

Though the Pakistan-backed insurgency that broke out in 1989-90 has been largely decimated by the Indian Army and the Kashmir government, consequences of the decade-long strife remain.

After all, 40,000 young Kashmiri Muslims died and almost the entire Hindu population of the valley was ethnically cleansed and forced to flee from their ancestral homeland.

The hope of one segment of the population that Kashmir would join Islamic Pakistan seems a forgotten dream.

There is a recognition in the valley that being puppets in the hands of Islamabad’s deep state and its state-sanctioned jihadi terror networks, offers Muslim Kashmiris no better life than what Pakistan has offered to the 100 million Bengalis who seceded from the country to form Bangladesh in 1971. Or to the Baloch, fighting to end Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan.

Srinagar's downtown 'Laal Chowk' under the watchful eyes of Ayatollahs

Srinagar’s downtown ‘Laal Chowk’ under the watchful eyes of Ayatollahs

However, the anti-India “Azadi” movement has not been quelled. It was never a nationalist cause where Kashmir’s Muslims and Hindus would live as equals in a secular, liberal democracy, but now pan-Islamism is unashamedly touted as the basis of a future state.

Today’s militant Islamic youth of Kashmir carry placards of bin Laden in anti-India rallies and hoist Taliban flags, while their Shia Muslim rivals are inspired by Khomeini and Hezbollah.

A senior Kashmiri Muslim police officer confided “over 50% of Kashmiris between the ages of 15 and 30 are hard-core pan-Islamists, not Kashmiri nationalists.”

Even the most moderate and liberal of Kashmir’s Muslim leaders, Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, and a darling of the left, said Saturday that Islam, as in the past, can still lead the whole world if Muslims unite and become one body.

The Srinagar neighborhood of Maisuma, home to Yasin Malik, a supposed liberal and moderate Kashmiri leader. However, this banner reveals Yasin Malik's pan-Islamist view of the world.

The Srinagar neighborhood of Maisuma, home to Yasin Malik, a supposed liberal and moderate Kashmiri leader. However, this banner reveals Yasin Malik’s pan-Islamist view of the world.

Addressing a religious procession, he said:

“The enemies of Islam and Muslims are hell bent upon dividing the Muslims in the name of caste and creed. These people want to see us fighting on small differences, so that we never emerge as one nation and Ummah.”

While New Delhi seems to believe it has put down a Pakistani-backed uprising, it will be remiss if it does not pay attention to this banner, hung across the city’s Budshah Bridge fly-over that lies in the shadows of the state legislature:

“Beware of the leaders of American Islam, whether they are in the garb of religious scholars or in the shape of politicians.”

Bizarre banner mocking American Muslims hangs across the street in Srinagar's Government Secretariat area that is also home to the State Legislature

Bizarre banner mocking American Muslims hangs across the street in Srinagar’s Government Secretariat area that is also home to the State Legislature

11 comments for “Islamism Rising in Idyllic Kashmir – Report from a visit to the Valley in 2013

  1. indian
    November 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    in India supporting Islamist view is labelled as secularism hence even bjp runs after muslim leaders & their vote-bank to show how secular they are. forgetting the fact they will not be supported by liberal left inspite of what bjp does, in process of appeasing muslims it is getting away from its traditional voters.my prediction congress will comeback or 3rd front will form govt. bjp should not allowed to form govt if it continues to be this stupid

  2. Vineet
    November 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    Tarek, Hi. A few points from my side –

    1) Kashmiri muslims were always inclined to Pakistan (no not islam).
    2) Neither the state government not the central government made an effort to wipe off militancy. As i tweeted to Salman, it a factory and many many people (big and small) are living off it.
    3) Wiping off militancy is not a very difficult task. Remember Punjab and SriLanka. However, it comes with extreme collateral damage.
    4) Yasin Malik is not a moderate. If i am not wrong he is probably the only separatist who actually killed people and is enjoying his life.

    5) The biggest reason why Kashmiri Muslims who were inclined to Pakistan are not turning to be hard core islamists is fairly simple. What are they looking forward to in their lives. What has the government of J&K done in so many decades for the people. The hard and factual answer is NOTHING!.

    The only was out, and this is by no means going to be easy, is to show people a horizon. Then work tirelessly to one section at a time towards that Horizon. Why can’t we create environment where ordinary Kashmiris are given avenues to work hard for their future and the future of their children. Why can’t we create infrastructure like Switzerland. Why can’t we be the art and craft capital of the world. Why can’t we become the hot bed of horticulture and floriculture . . .

    Its simple, no one wants the factory to shut !

    Thanks.

  3. Krishna
    November 12, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    What is new here? Islam is about world control through jihad, taqia and forced conversions. They are at least practising what they preach. The Left and the pseudo secular support these parasites.

  4. Omar
    November 13, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Funny that you are posing in the city center, we can see Indians moving around freely in the pic & then you call us intolerant.
    Only if you had moved further paces along the road that day, you could’ve see an Old couple in the Pratap Park asking for whereabouts of their only son who was arrested by Army 20 years ago. Only if you visited the Martyrs grave yard, where the youngest one killed by Army was 7 year old boy.
    You only see what you are searching for.

    • TarekFatah
      November 13, 2013 at 5:54 AM

      Omar, sure I missed that hypothetical couple looking for their lost son, but how do you explain this unbridled hatred towards America and Israel? Did they kill the old couple’s son?

      Or is it easier to beat down on them pesky Jews when no one is looking? How do you justify such blatant bigotry in the name of Islam? And why are the slogans in the Persian language? Is dissimulation such a compulsion that no one dare be brave and speak the truth?

    • Sam
      December 13, 2016 at 10:49 AM

      Tarek was in search of Kashmiri Pandits, you know how many he found?- Zero. Kudos to your “tolerance”.

  5. Omar
    November 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Tarek, I am not surprised that you pass off someones misery as a hypothetical tale. The sunday morning of 10th Nov, while you were busy posing & spinning your story this was just meters away >> http://t.co/s27MX7GTUn >> http://t.co/3zHckbLkei
    You will find this love for America and Israel everywhere in Muslim world. I say its more of a mutual love & understanding than anything else.
    Surely banners are politically incorrect and pointless. But we better not make a big issue out of it. Sunni brothers were hurt by Nasrallah banners too, some complained to govt. agencies but they won’t care. Who knows its govt. only who planted such inciting stuff, not a new thing here! Anything is possible in our world of conspiracies, agents & double agents.
    I wonder what you’ve been in Kashmir for? If you were just like another tourist, hope you had a good time! Meanwhile I think I know this person in one of your photographs. He works in J&K Police.
    A police officer labeling 50% of Kashmiri kids as ‘Hardcore Jahadis’ is not surprising. Perhaps it is this delusion that make them detain/torture/kill kids as young as 15.
    Hope you have something substantial to share about Kashmir trip other than this usual Islam bashing stuff. Looking forward to that. Allah Hafiz. 🙂

    • piyush
      November 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Mr.Omar !!
      ” Yeah ! Mr. Fateh is bashing Islam without any basis. A state which gets so many privileges in the form of central govt. funding has leaders who call for destruction of India and separation from it just because it is a muslim majority state.They throw out Kashmiri Pandits bacause they were kafirs (so what if they were natives of kashmir and second or third cousin in history).They ,in the name of religion of peace stone a sikh J&K police driver to death after Bakr-Id namaj this year
      http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/on-eid-jk-police-driver-was-stoned-to-death-by-mob/article5252954.ece
      and they take out the eyes of an armywallah(who has no stake in kashmir politics and is just doing his duty for his country and few bucks a month) in a train.Unless you be sensitive to others’ pain and speak abt kashmir on logic other than Islamic references,no one is going to hear you or your victimhood narratives(however genuine they may be).People have suffered on both sides.

  6. Tarlochan
    November 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Islam and Islamism are synonymous. Always have been and always will be and whats more, Islam poisons everything.

  7. Ashwin
    July 20, 2016 at 12:24 PM

    Mr.Omar Let’s pick apart your argument one by one shall we?
    1. “pass off someones misery as a hypothetical tale”. What about the myriad of our army soldiers who have been killed by terrorists in the valley? Aren’t they sons and daughters too? Don’t they have families? I don’t see a glimmer of rue. Don’t you see by corroborating Pakistan’s agenda and advocating terrorism you (AND YES YOU) are extirpating not only MY Kashmir but also my country.
    2.”Surely banners are politically incorrect and pointless”. We cannot gainsay the fact that it has been allowed to remain and is “Surely” a means of hate mongering. The people first and then the government should be offended by these banners and should take them down!
    3.”Anything is possible in our world of conspiracies, agents & double agents.” I found this the most farcical. You’re trying to convince me that the government puts up these banners to incite violence and then spends millions to stop it? Honestly i think some deluded person has sold you bad fruit. I’m not naive, but this statement is too absurd to be be even considered logically.
    4.”He works in J&K Police”. I highly doubt you know the officer but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Yes sir as tarek mentioned he is a J&K officer.
    5.” 50% of Kashmiri KIDS as ‘Hardcore Jahadis’ is not surprising”. Firstly he called them pan Islamist. NOT jihadist. Furthermore, it’s sad that these KIDS are just pawns in the hands of these terror stooges. These hate mongers incite these KIDS and its safe to presume they’ve done one on you too. These KIDS take up arms and once they do, they become terrorists and they have to be stopped no two ways about it. It’s really sad that these terrorists think they’re protecting Kashmir but they’re actually oblivious to the ulterior motives of the people who incite them. You’ve been hoodwinked too Omar, it’s time to do some deep introspection.
    6.”Perhaps it is this delusion that make them detain/torture/kill kids as young as 15.” I think I made my point in the above argument.
    7. “USUAL ISLAM BASHING STUFF” I’m sorry I didn’t quote this per-se because i changed your sentence to CAPITALS for emphasis. No where in the article has Tarek attacked Islam or bashed it. You just want to believe that he hates islam so that you get a reason to disregard and be blind to what he says. Nobody hates or bashes Islam. At least individuals who represent 99% of the general thinking like tarek Do Not Hate Islam and would never Bash It. There’s a difference between pointing out things you’d change and things you’d like to see evolve and blatant bashing.
    8. Lastly, i like to end by cadging you to
    “Start striving towards an informed opinion rather than an administered one” .
    Looking forward to that. Allah Hafiz my friend. 🙂

  8. James Micheal
    March 7, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    Wonder that India is one of few nations where both Sunni and Shia live in peace
    And it is wonder that these Taliban and Hezbollah if seen direct will kill each other than killing any Jew
    Fools still in 7 th century

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