Editor’s Note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of www.TheMuslimGuy.comand contributing editor for Islamica Magazine in Washington.
The world mourns for the people of Mumbai. Ranked immediately behind New York City as the 5th largest metropolitan city in the entire world; over 19.2 million Mumbai citizens of all religions and ethnicities watched in horror as part of the city’s virtual ‘five-star’ district reeled from the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks which has (thus far) claimed the lives of 179 people and wounded at least 300 more.
As the financial capital of India and birthplace to the global phenomenon known as Bollywood, in many ways, the city formerly known as Bombay is central to the societal heartbeat of our world’s largest democracy. As people all around the world send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims of these outrageous terrorist attacks; the world can again reunite to send our thoughts and prayers to anyone touched by this terrible tragedy.
Most people are unaware of the fact that there are over 1.1 billion (yes, one billion) inhabitants of India today. As the single largest democracy in the entire world, India’s ethnic and religious diversity will withstand these latest heinous terrorist attacks and strengthen its own democratic social fabric amidst the shattered glass of the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotel lobbies. The ridiculously hateful ideology of criminal terrorists who would carry out such a senseless terror campaign will not unravel the resilient social fabric which is turning India into a future millennial global powerhouse.
But unfortunately, the immediate gaze of India will now turn towards neighboring Pakistan in what will be a true test of global diplomacy in our post-9/11 world. Assuming that the perpetrators of the Mumbai Five-Star Attacks were trained in militant training camps within the borders of Pakistan, the real political test here will be whether ‘non-state’ rogue actors (aka terrorists) will be able to precipitate a war-like setting or whether we will see a regional diplomatic ‘peace surge’ (led by the Obama Administration) for the millennial future of South Asia.
The answer is probably (and hopefully) the latter. India is far too strong and resilient of a 21st century democracy to become unraveled by a group of ten (or so) terrorists. The Hindu-Muslim-Sikh South Asian social experiment of centuries and millennia of co-existence will not be rendered fruitless by a seething bunch of criminal maniacs. The shopping bazaars and hotel restaurants of Mumbai will open once again and Mumbai residents of all ethnicities, religions and castes will once again continue to collectively pump blood into the cultural heart of India.
Simply put; Bollywood will trump Al-Qaeda in India.
As a proud Muslim who is well-versed in the nuanced political history of South Asia, the Mumbai Five-Star Attacks were simply a vile and disgusting disregard for human life and an immoral crime against humanity. Regardless of the proverbial South Asian question of Kashmir, the methodical and intentional targeting of innocent civilians at Western hot-spots and Jewish cultural centers in a diverse multi-ethnic city like Mumbai can never be justified and should always be reviled by people of every faith.
Simply put; Islam forbids terrorism. Period.
Let it be known that the saddened hearts of people worldwide are with the people of Mumbai tonight. A symbolic glimmer of hope was on the horizon when BBC News recently reported Muslim leaders in India have decided that “they will not allow the militants to be buried in Muslim graveyards anywhere in the country.”
Ibrahim Tai, the president of the Indian Muslim Council, which looks after the social and religious affairs of the Muslim community in India, told BBC News that the terrorists had "defamed" his religion.
"They are not Muslims as they have not followed our religion which teaches us to live in peace…We do not want the bodies of people who have committed an act of terrorism to be buried in our cemeteries….
“These terrorists are a black spot on our religion,” he continued. “…We will very sternly protest the burial of these terrorists in our cemetery…’"
A black spot, indeed. Good night and good luck, people of Mumbai. Our hearts are with you tonight.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with