The attacks in Mumbai are appalling, but the truth is that to date the numbers killed are small by the standards of inter-communal religious violence in India.
But this time Westerners are involved, so there is far more media attention than when it is “Only Indians”.
This is yet another illustration that the “War on Terror” has been entirely counter-productive and has made the World a much more dangerous place for the very Westerners it was supposed to protect. The apparent al-Qaida copycat motivation of the attackers is a further sign that the “War on Terror” threatens to destabilise not just Pakistan but the whole sub-continent.
William Dalrymple’s excellent “The Last Moghul” details the religous tolerance of old India, and its systematic destruction by the British. These events must be seen in their context, not just of the hideous and violent blundering of Bush and Blair, but of four hundred years of history.
None of which excuses the stupidity of the acts of religiously motivated violence unfolding before us. I am sorry to be obliged to concede that the evidence is strong that we live in a global age of renewed irrationality, where religious impulses can easily be channeled to violence and hate. Important groups of Muslims, Jews, Christians and Hindus seem all prone to the infection. The Christians have commanded the most firepower to date. I do not in the least despise religous faith – it can lead to self-knowledge and to concern for societal good. But Richard Dawkins is quite right about its capacity for evil.