Was there a golden age of religious coexistence?

“Religious Minorities Across Asia Suffer Amid Surge in Sectarian Politics” (nytimes), first three paragraphs:

The deadly attacks in Sri Lanka on Sunday highlighted how easily religious coexistence can be ripped apart in a region where secularism is weakening amid the growing appeal of a politics based on ethnic and sectarian identity.

In India, the country’s governing right-wing Hindu party is exploiting faith for votes, pushing an us-versus-them philosophy that has left Muslims fearing they will be lynched if they walk alone.

In Myanmar, the country’s Buddhist generals have orchestrated a terrifying campaign of ethnic cleansing against the country’s Rohingya Muslims.

(the reader who did not scroll to read the entire article would infer that Muslims were the victims of the recent sad events in Sri Lanka, according to the NYT.)

This is the “news” section of the paper, not “opinion.” There is an implicit factual assertion that there were some good old days of religious coexistence. Everyone in Asia had one of those “coexist” bumper stickers:

Is this assertion true? The “two-nation theory” that led to the partition of India (millions killed and/or displaced) started in the 19th century.

Has secularism “weakened” in the region since 1947 when 14 million people were displaced on the theory that Muslims should not have to live among Hindus?

14 thoughts on “Was there a golden age of religious coexistence?

  1. You touched a raw nerve here. I am a Hindu, my grand parents lived in the part of Punjab which became Pakistan “the land of Pure”. We lost everything and became a refugee. Muslims, in general, are OK but there is a small section of Sunni Islamists which keep creating trouble in India. The same sect has killed millions of Ahmediyas and Shias in Pakistan and elsewhere. The same extremist Islamists are creating trouble in Myanmar, Bangladesh (created out of the same 1947 partition and then separated from Pakistan in 1971), and Sri Lanka. The future of non-Muslims in South Asia is questionable. But I think Europe to Islamist crutches (due to much lower birth rate than South Asia) first.

    • I wanted to add a few facts that Rajeev hasn’t covered (perhaps, he thought they were obvious). India has the world’s third largest Muslim population, almost equal to that of Pakistan. Muslims are the largest Indian minority, especially in the north.. Islam is a part of the Indian cultural heritage and Muslims have all the freedoms. There are occasional tensions between Hindus and Muslims but I do not believe those are common outside of Kashmir (just my personal view, no statistics).

    • I think this fact has to be separate. The Indian occupation of Bangladesh in 1971
      saved millions of lives and should be rightfully compared to the D-Day. As my friend’s Bengali grandmother recalled, “a company of small, skinny boys in the uniform out of nowhere” (the Indian paratroopers) saved her and her village from death and genocide.

  2. > a golden age of religious coexistence?

    Why, yes, indeed there was!

    It’s still acceptable to celebrate Winston Churchill as the defiant hero of 1940 (though maybe not for much longer). His earlier prediction that independence for India would result in carnage and in a much diminished UK, though abundantly vindicated, is however now rarely mentioned.

  3. No mention of the “Easter-worshippers”?

    And co-existence? The Israeli government doesn’t even acknowledge the genocide that gave rise to the word “genocide”. What a world. We’re a long way from co-existence….

    • What is it about? Final T styled like cross on post graphics is definitely means Christianity. What Israeli government does not acknowledge that US, Arab (friends) or Iranian (best friends) governments acknowledge? Most Jews, Israeli or otherwise, acknowledge Armenian genocide. Way too many Armenians pride themselves of being best troops fighting against Israel in Arab wars and the fact that Judaism was all but not existent in Armenia. Jews like and support Armenians and they like Azeirbajan because historically it was home for a significant Jewish diaspora that has received refuge and much support from Azeirbajani rulers and governments and there has or had been good interpersonal relationships between some Jews and some Azeris. Google says that “In 1944, Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) coined the term “genocide” in a book documenting Nazi policies of systematically destroying national and ethnic groups, including the mass murder of European Jews.” Israeli government acknowledges that.

    • Why are you fixed on Israel, a small country still fighting for its survival, even though at this time, with US help, it manages to maintain strong military? US government, Arab governments, Iranian governments do not officially recognize Armenian genocide, and Armenia is a big friend of Iran and is friendly with Arab governments. There is no diplomatic relationship between Israel and Armenia. However according to google ” Israel: On August 1, 2016, the Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee announced its recognition of the Armenian Genocide and urged the Israeli government to formally acknowledge the 1915 mass slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians as such.” http://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-education-committee-recognizes-armenian-genocide/ And Chief Ashkenasi Rabbi of Israel officially recognized Armenian genocide on his visit to Armenia http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/israeli-chief-rabbi-says-killing-of-armenians-in-1915-was-genocide. Why would not you ask US House of Representative majority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, from San-Francisco), who campaigned on recognition of Armenian genocide and enjoyed support of Armenian community, why she forgot her promise and does not act to recognize Armenian genocide?

  4. No diplomatic relationship on ambassador level that’s it, there are diplomatic missions with consuls I believe.

  5. If the term coexistence implies some level of equal standing, and even friendly relationships between religions, the answer is NO.

    Plenty of examples where one dominant religion tolerated others on very specific conditions — no equal standing before the law, and for sure, no friendly relationships between the faithful.

  6. Wow that article was shockingly bad. Nyt took a tragic attack on Christians by Muslims and decided to write an article about… how bad Buddhists and Hindus are?

    “And in Sri Lanka, a toxic Buddhist nationalist political force has agitated against minority Christians and Muslims, dismissing them as relics of a British colonial era when the Buddhist majority itself was repressed…. A mob from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese Buddhist majority gathered at a Methodist building in the city of Anuradhapura, bombarding the building with stones and firecrackers and trapping worshipers inside. ”

    Sorry, but annoyed Buddhists throwing firecrackers at Christian missionaries is not comparable to Muslims blowing up churches. What a shitty and transparent false equivalence.

  7. Tesla Motors is not a religion but a fact. The Model X is the best car ever made. Fords must die.

    • Lion2, how do you register Tesla as a legit religion without a saint prophet founder? And fake outrage of tesla worshippers has not produced cause sufferers yet: no person of average means in need of robust transportation buys one.

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