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Love in the time of jihad

In America, a white man-black woman relationship was taboo in the past, but now it does not carry anywhere near the stigma that a black man-white woman relationship still carries.

SUNIL SHARAN |

It seems that nothing inflames a Hindu man more today than love jihad. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, in many cultures, women spurning their own and marrying the other is frowned upon by the men. Secondly, there are added problems whenever there is a contentious history with the other.

Before we dive into love jihad, let us dive into a similar jihad waged in a land far away, America. African slaves were brought to America’s shores four hundred years ago, shortly after the white man had landed there. The slaves were going to do manual labour all their lives so the pick of them – the creme de la creme – were selected physique-wise. Rowing the galley ships from Africa to America further bolstered their physique.

I remember seeing a documentary about Indian Sikh soldiers stationed somewhere in Europe during World War I. The local women went mad after them. The men were seen as exotic manna from heaven. So too did the white woman in America start visualizing the slaves. The slaves were stronger than their own men. Their skin colour bled exoticism. And their perceived sexual prowess was an insuperable attraction.

White men didn’t take kindly to what they called jungle fever. This comingling had to be stopped. Right after the end of slavery and even until today, white American society frowns upon a white woman consorting with a black man. Instead of the white woman running after the black man, it is made out by the white man as if the black man lures her into his dragnet.

The fear that the white woman would run away with a free black man was the principal reason behind the American Civil War. If a black man was caught miscegenating with a white woman, he was simply hung. She was banished into eternal exile. White women were told that their mulatto children would have no place in American society, a fear that persists until today. White women were brainwashed that black men were rapists and just wanted to use them for sex, a perception that persists until today.

Despite this, and especially in the sports and entertainment industries, there are many white woman-black man liaisons to be found. People in such rarefied air have been able to transcend societal dogmas. Or have they?

I was talking to an Indian Sikh girl in the US recently, and the subject of love jihad in India came up. I had begun to believe that it was some kind of conspiracy hatched by Muslim men to rope Hindu women into. I definitely believe that if Hindu women are allowed to intermarry with Muslim men, then Muslim women too should be freely allowed by their culture and religion to marry Hindu men.

Restrictions bind Muslim women from doing so. In America, a white man-black woman relationship was taboo in the past, but now it does not carry anywhere near the stigma that a black man-white woman relationship still carries. It seems that there is not much mutual attraction between the black woman and the white man.

My Indian Sikh woman friend disabused me of my notions, or at least tried to. She claimed that Muslim men were so handsome, that’s why Hindu women ran after them. By handsome, I am sure she meant that they were fair. I agreed Muslim men appeared physically stronger because they tend to eat more meat than Hindu men on average. But if there were many fair Muslim men around, then there was no shortage of fair Hindu men either. My discussion with the Sikh woman remained inconclusive.

If you consider the Indian entertainment industry, yes, you will find a lot of Muslim men marrying Hindu women. Not many in India begrudge these alliances. It seems that like in America, once again the interfaith couples have stepped into rarefied air beyond the pale of humdrum Indian society. No one can touch them there.

In America, spurned by white women, white men are increasingly turning to Asian women in what is described as a virtual pandemic of yellow fever. Such men are also called rice kings, apparently because one of the reasons that they marry Asian women is because of the anticipation of rice-based delicacies made by the women.

Whether Hindu woman are naturally attracted to Muslim men or are lured by them, do Hindu men in India have anyone to turn to in case love jihad continues unabated? But then is love jihad a jihad or is it love? The question still boggles the mind.

The writer is an expert on energy and contributes regularly to publications in India and overseas.