The resonances between what is happening now in India with regard to Muslims and the beginning of the processes in Germany that resulted in the genocide of Jews cannot be missed, said Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Asian College of Journalism, here on Tuesday.
During a panel discussion that followed the screening of the critically acclaimed documentary ‘Shoah’ to mark the 75th year of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he said that the idea of ‘othering’ a group of people, which seems to be beginning in India, was deeply problematic.
Referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act that excludes Muslims from its ambit, he said that the Act in a way attempts to ‘de-citizenise’ Muslims or think of them as those who do not require citizenship.
Pointing out to the idea of “delousing” or the metaphor of “lice” being used for Jews in Nazi Germany, he asked when a leader in India used the word ‘termites’ to refer to a group of people, a sense of foreboding of a similar thought process here cannot be ignored.
Stressing on the relevance of the documentary to the present, Helmut Schippert, director, Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai, said that there was a perceptible rise of right wing extremists in Germany now. “They should be called right extremists and not right populists,” he said.
He added that right extremists secured 25% of votes in three federal States of Germany in the last election.
Pat for director
Both Mr. Schippert and Mr. Sashi lauded Claude Lanzmann, director of the 9.5-hour long documentary, for the narrative style he adopted, particularly the long interviews with survivors, bystanders and perpetrators.