India’s over 150 million Muslim population is largely unattracted to extremism, U.S. diplomatic cables have said, endorsing India’s vibrant democracy, inclusive culture and nationalistic nature of the minority community.
“Separatism and religious extremism have little appeal to Indian Muslims, and the overwhelming majority espouse moderate doctrines,” Former U.S. envoy to India, David Mulford said in a cable released by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
“India’s growing economy, vibrant democracy, and inclusive culture, encourage Muslims to seek success and social mobility in the mainstream and reduces alienation. With Indian Muslim youth increasingly comfortable in the mainstream, the pool of potential recruits is shrinking, while Muslim families and communities provide little sanction or support to extremist appeals,” the cable said.
The vast majority (of Muslims) remain committed to the Indian State and seek to participate in mainstream political and economic life, it said.
Although there are a wide variety of Islamic religious, political and social organisations, most Muslims join or support secular groups without a specific Islamic identity.
India’s vibrant democracy has ensured that the large Muslim community has a voice in politics and recent elections have demonstrated that Muslim voters are courted actively by political parties, the leaked cable said.
“With a Muslim President (A.P.J. Abdul Kalam) occupying the highest political position in the country, Muslims have been encouraged to seek political power in electoral and parliamentary politics, all but eliminating the appeal of violent extremism,” the cable added.
India’s secular education system increasingly integrates Muslim students into the mainstream and has spawned a growing and prosperous Muslim middle class.
The cable said that, “Young and dynamic Muslims are popular culture heroes in sports (Sania Mirza) and Bollywood (Sharrukh Khan and many others). The message for young Muslims is that they are Indians first and Muslims second, and that they can fully participate in Indian society and culture and win the adulation and respect of other Indians, regardless of religion.”