Noted legal scholar Martha Nussbaum wrote a post on the Univ of Chicago Law School Blog terming the Mumbai Attacks a cloud over India’s muslims. Her post makes some sense and as a believer of free speech, she has the right to do so.

Her article focusses on the fact that terrorism in India is not peculiar only to Muslims and thatradical hindu groupsalso engage in terrorist activities in India. She cites the Gujarat carnage and the recent incidents in Orissa as examples to show that such happens in our country. Her argument is that even though these incidents take place, there is a targetting of the muslim population that is taking place in India similar to that that happened in USA after 9/11. To quote her here,

“All of this is terrorism, but most of it doesn’t reach the world’s front pages. When it does make it into newspapers outside India, the word “terrorism” is rarely used. The result is a perception, in India and abroad, that Muslims are the bad guys in every incident of terrorist violence.

Such stereotypes are so prevalent that many state bar associations in India refuse to defend Muslims accused of complicity in terrorism — despite the fact that India’s constitution guarantees all accused a cost-free defense.

Meanwhile, Muslim youths are often rounded up on suspicion of terrorism with little or no evidence, an analogue to the current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States.”

Martha Nussbaum has a point here and to appreciate that, we need to focus on a definition of terrorism in general. Once we agree to the fact that terrorism in not related to the muslim religion as such, we can understand her views.

The comments to her article however, do not show any signs of acceptance. One reader writes,

I cannot believe the indian students in Chicago are not knocking on Nussbaum’s door demanding an apology for the insensitivity she has shown in this article towards India. It seems to me that she is justifying the actions of the terrorist by citing the actions of Hindus. So, the pakistanis’ have come to avenge the treatment the Muslims in India get? It was just as horrifying to read her opinion in LA times as it was looking at pictures of the dead in Mumbai. Indians don’t need to be hurt anymore than we already are.

Scott comments on the post as,

“I view Nussbaum as a terror apologist who intentionally misdirects readers away from the true nature of the Mumbai attack and its root causes. Previous comments have addresed various aspects of her actions. I will limit my comment to the most recent post in which the writer defends her by pointing out that she ultimately seeks punishment for those responsible. As Nussbaum says…”Let’s go after criminals with determination, good evidence and fair trials,…”.

I have a MAJOR problem with her (mis)characterization of the actions as being merely “criminal” in nature. At the time she wrote her op-ed,it was publicly known that the terrorists were singling out Westerners and and Jews as primary targets. It was also known that specific victims were also singled out and tourtured. In short, she denies the global Jihadist nature of the attack despite the facts!”

While the comments on the post are quite interesting to read and the readers vehemently attack her. Nobody seems to repudiate her ultimate conclusion that some Muslims are criminals. But that this does not in any way justify demonizing Muslims, any more than the violent acts of the Hindu right justifying stereotyping all Hindus as rapists and murderers. She asks the readers and governments to go after criminals with determination, good evidence and fair trials, and to stop targeting people based on their religious affiliation.