The world has certainly changed since Sept. 11. There is considerably more sympathy now for those who have suffered from religious terrorism unleashed by followers of violent semitic religions. The rest of the world is studying Islamic fundamentalism and its root causes. And they are recognizing the Muslim habit of using terror and intimidation to get their way.
For, the destruction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya and the building of the Babri mosque was an act of terrorism. It was intended, just as all the other temple-breaking, to humiliate and demean Hindus. It was not an act of faith, but an act of barbarism and of cold political calculation. If one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism could so easily be taken over by Muslims, the calculation went, it would demonstrate to Hindus that their gods were powerless before the fierce god of the Muslims.
Ayodhya is only one of several hundred thousand temples that Muslims destroyed. But then this sort of barbarism is not unusual for Islam or Christianity. When Muslims talk about “liberating” the Babri mosque, I feel like reminding them of the Mosque at Cordoba. If Muslims want to get back the Ayodhya site, let them first regain the Mosque at Cordoba. This mosque in Spain was the finest built by the Muslims in Europe, circa 700 CE. But when Christians recaptured it from Muslims around 1200 CE, they removed the Muslim arches and put in Gothic ones, and reconsecrated it as a church. Why aren’t Muslims agitating to get back the Mosque at Cordoba?
Similarly, Muslims took over the Dome of the Rock, the single holiest site in Judaism, and built the Al-Aqsa mosque there. According to Daniel Pipes, the idea that the Al-Aqsa is the point from which Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven is a later extrapolation for political purposes. He claims that Jerusalem was not so important in the early days of Islam. Now that Jews control Jerusalem, it is becoming increasingly clear that Jews will not give up control of the Dome of the Rock easily.
If Christians and Jews are not willing to entertain Muslim claims on their sacred sites, why should Hindus? Possession is nine-tenths of the law, as they say.
Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Hyderabad, India