Editor Speaks: Legit Originals(Issue 4)

1. MISUSE OF JIHAD ETYMOLOGY – COMMUNAL, LEGAL AND POLITICAL ASPECTS.

Vamya Dhawan, Senior Associate Editor, Legit

The diversity residing inside the Indian borders is huge in numbers and a democratic government has to often walk a tightrope so as to not destroy the delicate social fabric of India. The communities have a shared history that makes them part of one nation but it can also be a source of breeding resentment. The legislators shoulder the responsibility of framing laws that are sensitive to these social dynamics and do not upsurge bigotry in the country. The recent controversial law passed in Uttar Pradesh termed as “Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adyadesh 2020” (Prohibition of unlawful religious conversion) has been popularized in the country as “anti-love jihad law” and other states such as Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are also planning to introduce a similar ordinance. The notion of ‘love jihad’ has been prevalent in the country for over a decade now but a legal sanction confers validity to it that makes it harder to dismiss. Though the legislation itself does not mention the term 'love jihad', various political leaders, as well as people across the country, have used this terminology to refer to these drafted ordinances. This gross misuse of the jihad etymology has serious communal, legal and political ramifications. Jihad is commonly interpreted to mean holy war and is often associated with threats of terrorism but it has a vast meaning.


It defines the struggle of a believer to stay true to the Muslim faith and build a good Muslim society as well as the struggle to defend Islam by all means possible. A concept has been gaining speed in the minds of people that as a part of the jihad to build an Islamic nation, Muslim men are taught to lure women of other religion on the false premise of love and convert them to Islam. India is a country where romantic liaisons of any kind are frowned upon and the moral persecution is even greater when such liaisons happen to be between people of different caste and different religion. It is important to remember that the bloodshed and the horrors surrounding the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 caused bitterness between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The modern-day suspicion and distrust against each other thus have deep roots. A rising Muslim population is perceived as a threat to the freedom and security of Hindus in India. Another important thing to keep in mind is that orthodox Indian households tie a woman's honour and dignity to her body which is to be meant for her husband alone.


In such circumstances, a love relationship between a Muslim man and a Hindu woman is viewed as an attempt at humiliating the entire Hindu religion. The inter-faith marriage further paints the image where an unsuspecting Hindu woman’s modesty is outraged by a Muslim man and her conversion into Islam and the birth of the subsequent children is deemed to be a loss and defeat for the Hindu religion. The coinage of the term ‘love jihad’ feeds directly into such fears and has become a source of communal tensions. In independent India, the term was first used in September 2009 when several women in Kerala and coastal Karnataka converted to Islam after their marriage to Muslim men. The High Court had ordered a probe into it but no proof of either forced or fraudulent conversions could be found. However, in a probe by a special investigating team into the alleged love jihad cases in Kanpur in November 2020, in 11 of the 14 investigated teams the accused person had either hidden his identity or was involved with a minor girl. Instances of women being subject to cruelty and their association with terror activities after their marriage to Muslim men have come forward in the past which has fueled the fire. However, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 already provides provisions that render marriages voidable when the consent is obtained by fraud to any material fact or circumstance. Section 366 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 also penalizes abducting women for compelling them into marriage. The new law by the UP government has not taken into account the pre-existing remedies. It has passed a law that requires advance notice of sixty days to the District Marriage by the person wishing to convert and advance notice of one month by the religious convertor following which an enquiry will be conducted into the entire conversion process. The burden of proof has also been placed on the person causing the conversion rather than the person making allegations of unlawful conversions. Due to the moral policing, interfaith marriage couples often have to seek police and court protection which will be increasingly difficult with such provisions. The laws instead of putting a stop to unlawful conversions in the name of marriage would be putting a stop to interfaith marriages altogether and would exclude Muslims out of the social structure. Various BJP leaders such as Mallika Prasad, Sakshi Maharaj and Mankea Gandhi have made statements over time about the Islamic propaganda of feigning love and alluring girls into marriage. This not only alienates the Muslim community from the current ruling party but could also serve to create polarization of votes among religious lines. Love jihad has the dangerous potential of being reduced to a political gimmick by playing upon the fears and suspicions of people.


This above all fringes upon women’s rights who have become mere trophy figures among power play between two religions. The provisions of the Special Marriage Act of 1956 that allow people of a different religion to marry without conversions have also been ignored. Since the law has pass been passed in UP, several consensual adults entering into inter-faith marriages have been targeted by the police. The law has a wide ambit for misuse and its ‘love jihad’ terminology is an infringement of fundamental right of an individual’s right to marriage and privacy and also denies women bodily autonomy whilst portraying Muslim men as sexual wolves. It would increase oppression rather than solving it as systematic oppression doesn't stem directly from hatred. Rather it stems from fear and injustice that breeds resentment and gives validation to the oppression. If the members of both communities are isolated from each other, the differences will only increase. Inter-faith marriages should be a step ahead in building secularism but the ‘anti-love jihad’ law seems to be enforcing Hindu patriarchy with the government sanction. The fragile social fabric of the country is on the verge of breaking down and unless political and legal machinery promotes communal harmony, India will no longer be a symbol of unity in diversity. References:

1. Seth Maulshree, Explained Uttar Pradesh’s ‘love jihad’ law and why it could be implemented vigorously [online]. 5. December 2020 Available at https://indianexpress-com.cdn.ampproject.org 2. Hedge Vikram, Up’s ‘love jihad’ ordinance militates against the right to privacy, will allow political groups to jeopardise political order [online]. 5. December 2020 Available at https://www-firstpost-com.cdn.ampproject.org 3. Kumar Sanjay, The Politics of ‘Love Jihad’ in India [online]. 17. December 2014 Available at https://thediplomat.com 4. Nag Arnesh, Laws Against Love Jihad is about misplaced anxieties about the demographic increase and vilifying a community for electoral needs [online]. 1. December 2020 Available at https://www.theleaflet.in 5. Times of India, Love Jihad Sparks Hate [online] 17. December 2011 Available at https://m.timesofindia.com 6. Verma Lalmani, BJP Unnao MP Leader Sakshi claims madrasas offering cash rewards for love jihad [online]. 15. September 2014 Available at https://indianexpress-com.cdn.ampproject.org 2. AN ANALYSIS ON ISRAEL - SUDAN DEAL.

Vijayalakshmi Raju, Chief Managing Editor, Legit

Israel and Sudan, on accepting to work towards normalising the relations in a deal which is brokered by the United States making Sudan the third Arab country to set aside the hostilities with Israel in the past two months. Donald Trump, on sealing the agreement in a telephonic conversation with the Israel Prime Minister named Benjamin Netanyahu, his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok and Abdul Fattah al Burhan, the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council. The leaders agreed to the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel to end the state of belligerence between their Nations. However, it was not immediately clear whether Sudan’s transitional government has the authority to strike such a deal where the country remains without a parliament and an election which are due in 2022.

Trump, on seeking to appeal to pro-Israel voters has pushed countries in the Arab world to normalise relations with the Jewish state. Earlier, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to establish ties with Israel under the US Mediated deals despite the protests from the Palestinian leadership. Though Khartoum has been largely marginal to middle eastern politics in recent decades the normalisation has resulted in significant symbolic value. After the 1967 War, the Arab powers met in Khartoum to pledge 3 No’s: “No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel”. Thus, the US removes Sudan from terrorism blacklist in return for $335m. Khartoum’s fragile transitional government had come under heavy pressure from Washington which offered incentives including the help to access millions of dollars of desperately needed financial assistance from multilateral organisations as a part of the agreement from several steps to remove them from a US government list of countries accused of promoting terrorism. While Sudan has far from fully committed to the deal it will be seen in Israel as a major step forward. Unlike the UAE and Bahrain which has never fought the Jewish state. Sudan sent forces to fight in the war around Israel’s creation in the year of 1948 and during the 6th day of the war in the year of 1967. In the 1970s Israel backed Sudanese insurgents fighting the Khartoum’s government. Before his fall in the year of 2019, the authoritarian ruler Omar Al Bashir had shifted from a de facto alliance with Iran to close relations with Saudi Arabia, and there has been contacting between the intelligence services of Israel and students in recent years.

The military leaders in the mixed transitional government appear to have been more enthusiastic about the normalisation of ties with Israel than the civilian leaders who fear the legitimacy of the new administration which may be undermined by the move. But the deal is a testament to the influence which is still divided by the US in East Africa. Washington which has moved to incrementally to restore the relations with Sudan over recent years, but has insisted that outstanding legal claims are settled before the country is struck from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan has agreed to pay $335m in compensation to victims of the Al Qaida bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the year of 1998.

The US Court decided that the Bashir's regime had provided crucial assistance to Osama Bin Laden group and was therefore partially responsible for the attacks. The designation as state-sponsored terrorism is denied Sudan’s access to debt relief and foreign financing. Meanwhile, the country's economy has been crippled by the decades of Bashir’s misrule, continuing internal conflict, recent political upheaval and the covid Pandemic. Millions of people are facing hardships as food and fuel prices have soared.

Implications:

Sudan, which was technically at war with Israel since its foundation in 1948 has now become the third country to force diplomatic relations with it, in recent times. Earlier the USA procured the diplomatic pact between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain as well as to normalise their relations. The deal which would depend on Sudan engagement with the west. The deal following the USA conditional agreement to remove them from its backlist of countries accused of sponsoring the terrorism. Sudan was added to the list in 1993 after it was accused of harbouring groups such as Hezbollah and Palestinian militants outfit which the USA deems as a terrorist.

As a result, Sudan was cut off from the global economy and was started of foreign investment which faced another blow in the year of 2011 when South Sudan was formed taking away its major oil resources. With its name being removed from the list, Sudan will no longer stay deprived of foreign investments. Under the deal, Sudan had agreed to pay USD 335 million in compensation to the victims of the Al-Qaeda bombings of USA embassy in Kenya and Tanzania in the year of 1998. It delivers a foreign policy achievement for Trump just days before the USA election. Boosting up Israel’s motor which has made it a Priority to forge ties with formerly hostile countries in Africa and the Arab world in the absence of any progress with the Palestinians. In the initial phase, there will be no exchange of ambassadors or a mutual establishment of embassies.

After the 6th day of War, the other powers met in Khartoum (Sudan’s Capital) to pledge that there is no peace, no recognition and no negotiations with Israel. Therefore, the deal holds a symbolic significance for Israel. Unlike the UAE and Bahrain which have never fought with Israel, Sudan sent forces to fight in the war around Israel’s creation and in the 1970s Israel backed Sudanese insurgents fighting the Khartoum’s government to stop with this agreement. Israel completes the creation of a safety cordon in the Red Sea which currently includes Egypt, Jordan, South Sudan and Saudi Arabia. The deal is also aimed in the unifying Arab countries against common advisory Iran. Though Sudan has been largely margin to middle-eastern policies in recent decades the normalisation has significant symbolic value.

Conclusion:

Thus, The attacks in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 were carried out by al-Qaeda while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan. Sudan has since placed the money in a special escrow holding account for the victims of these attacks, which has been largely margin to middle-eastern policies in recent decades, having a significant symbolic value.


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Legit Originals: Volume 1, Issue 4(December 2020)

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