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The Football World Cup in Qatar gave us a brilliant final, silencing those who had said that it was a mistake to award the World Cup to a country that sponsors and encourages Muslim fundamentalism all over the world and uses football to further its aims. It owes for instance the best French football team, Paris Saint Germain of which Kilyan Mbappé, the young and brilliant French striker, is a member. It is a proprietor too of the top English team, Manchester City. We must however give the Qataris credit for their superb organization.


Sadly however, the Morocco-France match gave us many clues about the radicalization of Islam. Firstly, the Moroccan players, were brutal, using tackles, to hurt and maim; while, even if they were barely touched, they would scream and writhe on the ground as if mortally wounded. They were bad losers also: to Croatia for third place, nearly beating up the referee at the final whistle. But even in victory (over Spain), what did they do? They urged on TV people to join Islam, saying: “come to the wind, come to the truth”. Is that football, is that how it is supposed to bring people together beyond religion and race?


Thirdly, Muslims all over Europe not only rioted when Morocco lost, but even when they beat Spain and even more when France lost to Argentina. In Paris, my family were advised not go out, both on the night of Morocco’s loss to France and during and after the finals, and police were deployed in the thousands on Champs Elysées and all French major towns. And who rioted? French Moroccans, but also Tunisians Algerians and from various African countries, all holding French passports, all beneficiaries of the vast and generous French social system, which gives you free medicals, free money, the more children you have, subsidized transport, sports facilities, parks etc). As usual Muslims in Europe, not only put Islam before their nationalities, having no faithfulness or gratitude to their adopted countries, but strike these very countries which give them shelter.


Now let’s look at it from a Hindu-dharmic point of view. It’s important and as a journalist, I have always tried to scrutinize the behind the scenes, the occult and invisible forces that move people like puppets. If you look at France and its (huge) problem with Islam, it’s ALSO karma. France colonized, sometimes brutally (but it was acceptable then) North African countries: Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria in particular. It not only exploited its people, but after reluctantly giving them independence, it employed Arabs as laborers, coolies, mason helpers, trash pickers, jobs that the French did not want to do anymore (and the French dare to castigate castes in India!). They had little respect for them, when I was a kid, they were called ‘bicots’, which could be loosely translated as ‘goats’ in English. Now naturally the grandchildren of these coolies are angry and vent openly their vengeance. And the ironic Karma is: the French football team that narrowly lost to Argentina in the final of the 22 Football World Cup, was mostly constituted of African immigrants children !


But it gets more complicated: many of these French muslim youth of today, are well educated brilliant people - stand up comics, actors, film directors, artists, writers, journalists – 21st century France owes them a lot and its culture is being remolded by them. The karma is that, at the same time, like others, this Muslim intelligentsia, sometimes, more often than not, feels that Islam is essential and more important than their French atavism, in their intellectual and spiritual make up - and it affects their attitudes and decisions. It gets even more complex: in France, at least, its becoming fashionable to be a Muslim: I play basketball when I am in Paris, under the Eiffel tower, and many of the players are either French Muslims or Muslim blacks: the few white players that play with them, imitate the Muslims in their way of greeting (you know that complicated joining fists, knuckles etc); the girls who look on, are in awe of these tall, nice (I must stress here ‘nice’ as me being older and a white guy, is always made to feel welcome by them), excellent players and naturally, it leads more and more to mixed couples. We know that their children will be brought into Islam, with Muslim names and read the Koran. No love jihad, here it’s just happening naturally.


Karma is a vicious circle: France and other countries who colonized Arabs, are paying theirs right now – once its paid, it’s burnt & gone;  Islam is reaping the good karma of having been exploited, by coming-up in many areas, whether sports, or other fields. Islam could put a stop to the bad karma they are generating now, for example by not rioting.  It may be only in India that Islam could come at peace with itself. Sufism is the answer: an Islam, as embodied by Dara Shikoh, who not only accepted other religions, but borrowed from them (the bhakti of Vedanta, for instance). Unfortunately Dara was beheaded for apostasy by his brother Aurangzeb and Sufism mostly died with him and is only today dance, songs and a few slogans. I for once, am trying to rekindle it: we have an exhibition on Dara Shikoh in our Museum of Indian History, Pune and I am writing a book  on the life of Dara Shikoh.




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