The Patriotism of Indian Catholics and Italian Enrica Lexie Shoot Out
No incident in recent Indian history has gained the notoriety of being politicized and led to unabated religious bashing like the Enrica Lexie shoot out. A close watch at the developments since the shooting raises concern as to whether the Italian marines are being tried according to the law of the land or the emotional outburst of dangerous fundamentalists on the prowl? The consistent outbursts by the fundamentalists have even influenced the impartial majority to take a partial stand. It is the Italian involvement that matters. Even though the killers who brutually murdered thousands of people in Gujarat and Odisha walk scot free, why this added excitement and concern over this incident? Should we hand over punishment if and only if the murderers are foreigners?
The central government and the state government in Kerala have asserted themselves and has never shown any indication of buckling under diplomatic pressure. Thus the accusations expected against the ‘Italian’ Sonia Gandhi were forced to the back burner. Now the focus is on Indian Catholics. The Indian Catholics are specifically targeted over the comments of Cardinal George Alencherry on the shootout. The men behind the show have been successful in trending #Cardinalsin on twitter.
The extremist right wing fundamentalist from long have been raising hue and cry over the connection the Church has with Vatican. Making full use of the situation, they are trying hard to establish and prove that Catholics are anti Indian! The way the whole issue of the Cardinals comments got publicized over the internet especially in social networking sites underlines this fact. Armed with the misquoted comments of Caridnal Alencherry that accused him of showing allegiance of Italy, there has been a series of comments doing the rounds online, seriously questioning the patriotism of the Catholics in India like: “Two ‘Christian’ Indian fishermen shot dead. But Catholic Church stands for Italian ‘Christians’!”
Analyzing the above tweet reveals dangerous motives behind the whole episode. Rather than using ‘Two Fishermen killed’ the qualified with the terms, Indian and Christian. These qualifications are compared with the Christian Marines charged with murder. On reading this tweet along with the Cardinal’s misquoted statements on the alleged help which he promised to Italians, the conclusion which any dick and hardy can draw from this tweet is that, Indian Catholics owe their allegiance to Italy and not India! This then substantiate the call of Hindutva outfits to make an Indian Church severing ties with Vatican.
Anyone who have browsed through history will be aware of the fact that the head of Catholics, the Pope resides in Vatican, the smallest country in the world and not in Italy! The Italian government has nothing to do with the Catholics in India. Pope is the head of Vatican. The allegiance of Catholics in India to Vatican is not political but spiritual.
Even though Cardinal Alencherry has denied making the controversial statements regarding calling the ‘Catholic minsters in Kerala, the context in which Cardinal Alencherry made the statements prove that there was nothing unnatural or anti Indianness associated with it. It was the Italian Press agency Fides, which quizzed him on the shootout and he expressed his intention not to precipitate the matter. This statement has to be taken in context of the anti western feelings handed over from the colonial era and still lingers on in our minds. He was clarifying and resolving the issue peacefully. He had not told that they will be left scot free! Going by the outburst of fundamentalists and also the communists who have joined in to take a dig at cardinal, his response should have been ‘The Marines killed our men and we will finish them off too! This would have made these guys happy.
Take a situation where an Indian is caught in Germany for shooting. If a German cardinal visits his place, how should his response be? Should he be harsh? A rather positive comment regarding the fate of the Indian would really comfort us. This is what exactly Cardinal George Alencherry has done. He has neither told anything against the country nor has he promised to bring them out through backdoor talks.
The Indian Catholics does not have Senas or Sanghs to unleash terror nor have planned out strategies to conquer online medium and spread hatred. The silent services that the Catholics render to this nation speak for itself. India is the motherland of the Indian Catholics and this in no way comes as a hindrance to the spiritual relation that we maintain with the Pope in Vatican. The Indian Catholics will never buckle down to malicious intention and pressure of right wing fundamentalist and communists. The Catholics in India doesn’t need the measuring scale of any organization to assess their patriotism.
(The author is on twitter as @jeffshawn)