jihad' bogeyman resurfaces By
BANGALORE - A poster
warning about a "love jihad" was put up in the
premises of the national headquarters of the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi last
week. It warns "Hindu brothers" about Muslim men
marrying Hindu girls to convert them to Islam.
Citing the examples of Bollywood actors Saif Ali
Khan and Aamir Khan, the poster points out that
they married Hindu women and had children, and
then went in for a divorce.
Hindus, wake up. Beware of Love Jihad," the poster
warns, appealing to people to report such
incidents, and provides an e-mail address and a
mobile-phone number for that purpose.
message was issued in the name of the Anti-Love Jihad
Front. The poster was
reportedly put up at the BJP office by the Bhagat
Singh Kranti Sena, a Delhi-based right-wing outfit
that has protested against writer Arundhati Roy
and lawyer/activist Prashant Bhusan among others
for their views on Kashmir.
is a term used in India to refer to the alleged
"mission" of Muslims to convert girls of other
communities to Islam by feigning love and marrying
them. It was in September 2009 that this term
entered popular lexicon in connection with the
reported forced conversion to Islam of two women
in the town of Pathanamthitta in the southern
state of Kerala (see India
lost in 'love jihad' , Asia Times Online,
October 28, 2009). It was alleged that the two
women were lured by two Muslim men "feigning
Initially, the women said their
conversion was voluntary. However, subsequently -
they were staying with their parents in the
interim period on the court's orders - they
claimed they were abducted and coerced to convert.
The two men were reported to be members of Campus
Front, a student outfit of the Popular Front of
India, a conglomerate of Muslim organizations that
is alleged to be engaged in radicalizing Muslims
in south India.
The media accused the men
of "love jihad".
While the Koran lays out
three ways in which a Muslim can spread the word
or wage jihad - by word of mouth, with the pen, or
with the sword - those intent on maligning Islam
have added a fourth, jihad through feigning love.
An avalanche of reports on "love jihad"
followed the Pathanamthitta incident. Love
jihadis, the reports said, were everywhere - at
college campuses, restaurants, movie theaters and
Internet shops - and were acting not on individual
impulse but as part of an organized campaign. Some
alleged that an organization called Love Jihad or
Romeo Jihad existed. Others said it was a
Leading the smear campaign were
religious groups, parties and organizations, which
weighed in with "facts and figures" to prove that
love jihad was not a figment of anyone's
imagination. The BJP, the main opposition party in
Parliament, accused "love-jihad activists" of
"getting foreign money". The Sri Ram Sene, an
organization of goons that has beaten up women in
pubs on the claim that it is protecting
"traditional Indian values", alleged that
thousands of girls had been converted in the past
few years by the love jihadis.
too claimed they were victims. The Kerala Catholic
Bishops Council's Commission for Social Harmony
and Vigilance warned its flock in an October 2009
newsletter of the "threat" posed by the love
jihadis. "Forums known as Love Jihad and Romeo
Jihad use love as a terrorist weapon," it said,
claiming that young men were being supplied with
"weapons necessary for their cause". The "weapons"
were motorbikes, mobile phones, fancy clothes and
money that young Muslims needed to flash around to
Incidentally, Christians, who
have been in the crosshairs of the Hindu right
wing for their offer of "inducements" to convert
Hindus to Christianity, have joined hands with
Hindu right-wing organizations against the love
In the years since the furor over
the incident at Pathanamthitta, allegations of
love jihad have surfaced in other parts of the
country. In neighboring Karnataka, a legislator of
the ruling BJP claimed in December 2011 that of
the 84 girls who had gone missing in Dakshina
Kannada district between January and November that
year, "69 confessed they had been lured by Muslim
youths who professed love".
Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) organization alleged that
3,000 Hindu girls were "missing" in Dakshina
Kannada and 30,000 in the rest of Karnataka state.
According to police statistics up to the end of
September 2009, 404 girls were reported missing,
of whom 332 had been traced. Of those who were
missing because they had eloped, many were Hindus,
but they were found to have run off with
non-Hindus as well as Hindu men.
investigations revealed too that there was no
organization called Love Jihad or Romeo Jihad, nor
were the inter-communal marriages the outcome of a
concerted conversion campaign or mission.
Yet the scaremongering continues as
websites of the HJS among others carry innumerable
reports on cases of love jihad.
love-jihad bogey thrives on the insecurity of
traditionally been arranged by parents in India.
This is slowly changing and youngsters are
increasingly choosing their own partners,
sometimes even outside their caste and subcaste,
or even religion. Increasingly too, youngsters are
defying their parents and eloping.
this loss of control over their children's choices
- these "children", incidentally, are usually
above the age of 18 - that is driving the anxiety
over "love jihad".
It has its roots in a
patriarchal culture that is evident among all of
patriarchs confine their daughters to the home or
put them under a burqa, those among Christians and
Hindus are busy policing their daughters, thinking
up of ways and means to control their choices.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council
advised its flock to monitor their children's
activities, even discourage them from using mobile
phones or spending long hours on the Internet.
"The computers should be placed in common places
at home and their history checked frequently. The
parents should be alert if teenagers are keeping a
distance from family members," it said.
There is also anxiety over another issue
that Hindu communalists have efficiently stoked
for decades, and that is regarding the demographic
threat that Muslims supposedly pose to the
majority status of India's Hindus. They allege
that the Muslim rate of population growth is
higher than that of Hindus and that Muslims are
averse to adopting birth-control measures. In
these circumstances, the Sangh Parivar, a family
of Hindu right-wing organizations, warns that
Muslims will one day outstrip the country's Hindu
Muslims account for roughly
13% of India's population, while Hindus account
for a whopping 80%. Yet to many Hindus who believe
the Parivar's propaganda, the demographic threat
from Muslims is a clear and present danger.
Parivar propaganda depicts love jihad as
part of the grand Muslim conspiracy to turn Hindus
into a minority in India some day. It has
convinced some Hindus that love jihad is aimed at
turning their daughters into "baby-producing
machines" for Muslims.
Coverage of "love
jihad" in the mainstream media had died out over
the past year. It would seem that the poster at
the BJP office was aimed at putting the issue back
on the front pages.
Ramachandran is an independent
journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.
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