The Day of the broken Glass


History does not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. There are startling parallels between Narendra Modi’s political tactics and government and Germany’s 1930s Nazi party.

Just like in the Nazi Germany, the persecution of minorities began systematically since Modi came to power. Unofficial pincer movement on Muslims started in the last 5 years of Modi’s rule, stoking fire with anti-Muslim rhetoric in speeches and callous attitude of authorities towards lynching of Muslims by mobs on issue of slaughter of cows for meat. Reminds one of ‘kosher’ ban by Hitler in 1933. In fact between 1933 to 1945 Nazi government passed in total around 2000 antisemitic decrees.

It starts bit by bit with random mob attacks on minorities and their property. While the line taken by law enforcement authorities is best depicted by the phrase “let them vent out their anger’’, words attributed to none other than Nerindra Modi during Gujarat pogrom of 2002. The whistle blower of 2002 riots former top Indian police officer from Gujarat Sanjiv Bhatt is now serving life sentence in a case dating back to 1990. Case against Sanjiv Bhatt only came to light after he filed an affidavit in Supreme Court of India, confirming complicity of Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat.

On 15th September 1935, Reichstag enacted the racist and anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws. The two laws were law of protection of German blood and honour and the Reich citizenship law. The later declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens. The remainder were classed as state subjects without any citizenship rights.

For the most part, Germans accepted the Nuremberg Laws, partly because Nazi propaganda had stirred up anti-Jewish sentiment, but also because to oppose the regime meant leaving oneself open to harassment or arrest by the Gestapo. The response of the outside world was no different as we see today towards fascist regimes, in form of deafening silence. Best depicted by the participation in 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.

The fact that Nuremberg laws were fully in place by the time these games were held, had not much impact on global reaction. On top of that, blatant acts like barring Germans who were of Jewish origin from participating in the games by The German Olympic committee, in accordance with Nazi directives, did not stir much protest other than a few brief boycott campaigns by exiled German politicians, which died soon. United States Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage in full support of the games said, politics has no place in sports. May be the French athletes should have refrained from Roman salute in the context of political environment, but they chose not to.

The similarity between Nuremberg laws and the recent acts by Lok Sabah are hair raising. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019, providing a path to Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities, who had fled persecution from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Muslims from those countries were not given such eligibility, ignoring the thousands of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Even more threatening is the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is likely to deprive millions of Indians, majority Muslim of their citizenship. Even frightening is the response of global powers. With the leader of western world holding hands with Modi, conveniently ignoring the bloodshed on the streets. After all, both are victors in election campaigns that used fearmongering and anti-Muslim rhetoric to consolidate support.

80 years ago, on a cold November night, egged on by Joseph Goebbels, the minister of public enlightenment and propaganda, Nazi government encouraged its supporters to burn synagogues and raid Jewish properties. 91 Jews were murdered on the night between 9th and 10th November, 267 synagogues burnt and around 7000 Jewish businesses were damaged throughout Germany, Austria and Sudetenland. In the morning shards of broken glass littered the streets from smashed windows of Jewish homes, stores and synagogues. The night came to be known as Kristallnacht, ‘the night of the broken glass’’. Historians view Kristallnacht as a prelude to Hitler’s final solution and the murder of six million Jews during holocaust.

One cannot ignore the stark likeness of Kristallnacht to the pogrom in Delhi on 23rd February. Just miles away from Donald Trumps photo ops, came out pictures of men being dragged on the streets, pictures of one being beaten by dozens, men curled up in a bloodied ball, pictures of gunshot wounds, bloodshed and fire. On 23 February Hindu nationalist mobs roamed the streets burning and looting mosques together with Muslim homes, shops and businesses. They killed or burned alive Muslims and the victims were unprotected by the police. So far reported deaths are 43 as more bodies are being discovered in the rubble.

Atrocities like holocaust do not happen due to will of a fanatic and blind following by others. Appeasement and indifference on part of rest is required, which the world is not lacking in even today.

Since its gradual rise after the world war, never has democracy been so much under threat by fascism as today. Having lived abroad for sometime now, I am one of those who do not discern the Asian subcontinent states as avidly as friends back home do. My heart bleeds and majority of my Indian friends share this feeling at the demise of democracy and rise of fascism in India.

“I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky — her grand old woods — her fertile fields — her beautiful rivers — her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal actions of slave holding, robbery and wrong, — when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing” – Frederick Douglas


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Dr. Faisal Chaudhry

Dr Faisal Chaudhry is a graduate of King Edward Medical University and is currently working in Oxford University Hospitals. He is an avid traveler and an advocate of social awareness and dissidence.