LOVE JIHAD: THE ISLAMOPHOBIC CONSPIRACY THEORY
‘My parents will not accept our love’, marked a girl to her lover in the climax of a movie. However, the couple elopes secretly and gets into marriage and moves to another city to get a new life. Quite a happy scene until the girl’s family, carrying the so-called moral baggage of society, scours for the couple and kills them off. A bunch of movies, where Girl falls in love with the boy of another faith, ends in a similar way. The ‘Acceptance of parents’ had been in cinema for so long that it has lost its importance. And subdued by the ‘Acceptance of so-called Liberal government’. Yeah, you heard it right. Now the movies are gonna end with the girl saying, ‘Government will not accept our love’ and guess what, this time you can’t elope. But this time in name of LOVE JIHAD.
In a secular country like India, ‘Expression of love’ has always been an issue. In a society where arrange marriage is still on run, inter-caste or interfaith marriage and heterosexual love are still against the cultural norms set centuries ago. Love jihad being the recent issue on the list is what we are going to looked at.
MEANING OF LOVE JIHAD
‘Love Jihad’ often called ‘Romeo Jihad’, dubbed by some extremist and non-Muslim proponents. They claim that a Muslim guy allures a non-Muslim girl, particularly a Hindu. Then making her fall in love with him by fraudulent means or undue influence leading to a coercive and deceitful conversion of religion. It promotes Islamophobic theories.
Islam is second largest religion, followed roughly by 1.8 billion people. That is 0.6 billion higher than Hindu followers. So why Muslims should be concerned about enhancing their share of the population.
The proponents of Hindu ideology believe that Islam has already declared a holy war against Hindu in the form of Love Jihad. The latter’s testimony, acknowledged by the fact of a decline in Hindu population by 0.7 PP and an increase in Muslim population by 0.8 PP accounting for a 24.6% growth rate in 2011.
The Hindu-Muslim conflict is not new. It dates back to the 14th century, further exalted by the British government by ‘divide and rule policy. The tension was at its peak during the Indian national movement. This paved way for partition of India. The controversy goes on and off, accounting for the most destructive riots of Gujarat 2002 and Ayodhya Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid. The most recent controversy of Love Jihad has also resulted in some assaults, murders, and other violent incidents.
The idea of ‘love Jihad’ can be traced back to the 1920s. However, it christened to ‘Abductions’ back then. Some Hindu publicists and Arya Samaj proliferated the allegations of rape, elopement, luring, conversion, love, and force marriage by Muslim goondas. Thereby leading to organized campaigns and demagogic appeals. The issue was on another level when Arya Samaj started movements like Sangathan and Shudhhi
Another case came in Sep 2009. A mass conversion of Hindu and Christian girls into Islam tool place in the coastal region of Karnataka, Mangalore, and Kerala. According to Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, 4500 girls converted forcibly. But Hindu Janajagriti Smiti claimed the figure as 30000. Later in 2014, in the state legislature, the then CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy called the allegations baseless. The conversion figures to Islam were 2667 women during 2006-2014. There is no evidence of forceful conversion.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sanatan Prabhat, and Hindu Janajariti Samiti still navigate this idea. And now it seems as a cynical political strategy aimed at polarizing voters and gain votes by Bhartiya Janata Party.
The wrong notion
As often, Jihad has been miscommunicated to people, believing it to be an act of terrorism or holy war against human being particularly Hinduism, promoting Islamophobic thinking.
In the holy book of Islam, Quran, Jihad means struggle or an effort. The Greater jihad consists of Jihad against yourself [fighting against evil in oneself like smoking or fighting any disease] and Jihad against Satan [preaching god through truth and knowledge. The lesser Jihad consists of Jihad against an open enemy in self-defense against the persecution of their faith. The open enemy does not mean government, citizens, and people of another faith.
The Societal identity
The practice of Islam like Polygamy, eating Beef, have always been a nuisance to Hindu proponents. It got nurtured by some Hindu writers who portrayed Muslim rule as the chronicle of rape and abduction of Hindu women. They started to being portrayed as aggressive with lecherous behavior, high sexual appetites with religious fanaticism. They spread this Islamophobic thoughts
Hindu women are seen as exclusive preserve of Hindu patriarchal society. They are treated as an embodiment of purity and culture that needs discipline and control. The Hindu proponents deny to accept the fact of ‘their girls’ falling in love with a Muslim guy. Afterwards converting their religion voluntarily. The Hadiya case of 2017 is the classic example of Hindu parents wanting their daughter’s custody. She voluntarily changed her faith to Islam and married to a guy named Shafin Jehan.
Indian Media and Love Jihad
Media as an informer to audience, impart unbiased news has played an important role in miscommunicating Love Jihad. Whether in 1920s, articles under the provocative title like, ‘Hindu Aurato ki Loot’, ‘Hindu Striyo ke loot ka karan’ or in 2020s under the title of Love jihad ka rate card were in publication. Emphasizing upon the fact that interfaith marriage is a crime has paved a wrong notion about the the whole idea of interfaith marriage and following conversion of religion.
Laws and Legislation
The first anti conversion law came in Orissa in 1967 as ‘The freedom of Religion Act’. After that Madhya Pradesh in 1968, Arunachal Pradesh in 1978, Chhattisgarh in 2000 and 2006, Gujarat in 2003, Himachal Pradesh in 2016 and 2019, Jharkhand in 2017, Uttarakhand in 2018 and Uttar Pradesh in 2020 passed act against the conversion of religion solely for the purpose of Marriage. However, the provisions of most recent Uttar Pradesh prohibition of Unlawful conversion of religion Ordinance 2020 are vague and ambiguous. They contain open textured phrases like Allurement, Coercion, undue Influence and fraudulent means. The legislation goes against the Article 21 and Article 25, violating the right to freedom to marry the person of one’s choice and right to practice religion of one’s choice respectively.
51 arrests, 14 cases filed within one month of love Jihad law in Uttar Pradesh. Only two complaints were from victims.
The legislation came to force to reduce the vulnerability of minor girls, according to legislators. It also ensures a check on the deceitful intention that can possibly entrench and disrupt social harmony. However, there is no evidence.
The lawmaker emphasize on the fact that no love demands conversion of faith and if couple wants to marry, they can do so by Special Marriage Act 1954, through the civil contract for marriage. The act involves no religious formalities. However, number of people marrying under the act are few due to its incompatibility with Social stigma.
The marriage of two adults is a complete matter of their own choice, neither a law is to impose any decision nor any individual. The Freedom of decision of her /his marriage shall lie with the person only.
Government implementing anti conversion laws needs to ensure that it does not curb the Fundamental rights or hamper the societal harmony. They also need to ensure to check on deceptive conversion of religion rather than using it as a prop for the upcoming election campaigns.