Aasha Khosa | November 19, 2015
Ten years back a group of visiting Indian women journalists were in for a shock in Brussels. Drooling over the taste of delicious Belgian chocolates that they had tasted and bought from the metro subway store for carrying home, they saw the huge anti-India graffiti on the walls. Obviously, it related to Kashmir, an issue the world was obsessed with, back then. It asked the world to wake up to the brutalities of the Indian army in Kashmir.
The taste of chocolate had turned bitter in the mouths.
Later, during our interactions with the diplomats at the Indian embassy, we were told that Brussels was home to a powerful anti-India propaganda group comprising a few Kashmiris and lots of Pakistanis. A lone Indian Muslim (NK, not using his name as I had not sought his permission) was holding the fort against them. He and his beautiful Lucknawi wife and the son born from his first (Greek) wife – who came with his young Punjabi wife and her mom - all speaking fluent French, hosted a gala dinner for the visitors.
NK told the ladies that the anti-India lobbyists were being sponsored by Pakistan to spread hatred against India. There was no way to stop it. Brussels being headquarters of the European Union was important for Pakistan and Islamabad had tried to make most of the Dutch-French speaking nation’s liberal laws to settle scores with arch rival India.
NK just did his duty by hosting the visiting Indians and making them feel at home in the cold city.
The Belgians and perhaps the Europeans did not think much of it. When we, journalists, spoke to our local friends about it, they seemed to ignore it. For them, the graffiti was a manifestation of a “south Asian rivalry and a fight between two poverty-stricken backward nations.” Little did the Europeans realize that if they allow the hate to be splashed on the walls of their cities, one day, it would scorch their lives too.
Today I can almost sense why a Brussels neighborhood Molenbeek is pinpointed as the venue where the conspiracy for the recent Paris attack was hatched. Now, the Belgian police is swooping on this Muslim community to weed out ISIS jehadis from among them.
Belgium has one of the largest Muslim immigrant populations in Europe. For many a young Muslims, the metro graffiti must have reminded them of the scenario of Muslims being persecuted in far off lands. This persecution syndrome keeps growing taking them to the doors of radical action-oriented groups like ISIS, which promise them Islamic supremacy after the war.
Hope, the graffiti on the Brussels metro station does not exist now and sinister elements do not spoil a beautiful nation.
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