Holocaust denial and minimization in the Indian Urdu press

Md. Muddassir Quamar

Violent conflicts are painful, especially for communities that face organized violence, genocide, or riots, and leave deep scars upon sufferers, both individuals and societies. Some of the major incidents of organized violence or genocides became a matter of global shame when the extent of brutality and violence becomes known. The last century has been witness to many such incidents including the genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, violence against Kurds and Shias in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's regime, the mass killings in Bosnia, the Rwandan genocide, the Cultural Revolution in China, and so on. One such incident was the Holocaust against Jews in Europe resulting in more than 6 million victims under Nazi Germany during World War II.

Jews had faced discrimination and violence in Europe since the time they were forced to migrate and become a diaspora after the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 but the extent of violence and brutalities incurred on them by Nazi Germany has been unprecedented, not just in Jewish but in human history. The Holocaust, as it came to be known, was a racist attempt to exterminate the Jews in Germany and all places that came under German occupation during the World War II. The incident shook the conscience of humanity and was responsible for mass migration of Jews to Western Europe and the US. It further fuelled the demand for a Jewish national home that eventually led to the creation of Israel in 1948 and the migration of a significant number of Jews to the newly formed state.

India has its own history of suffering from violence as well as discrimination against sections of society on the basis of birth, engrained in the caste system. The religious divide during the Indian freedom struggle led to frequent bouts of violence between Hindus and Muslims. The divide eventually led to the partition of India at the end of the British colonial rule but this caused large-scale violence on both sides of the newly formed border. Estimates suggest that nearly 2 million people were killed during the violence that ensued and approximately 14 million were displaced. However, the level of awareness and academic study of the causes and consequences of genocides or mass killings remains minimal in India. Hence it is not surprising that the level of awareness of the Holocaust is nearly absent in the Indian context and there is a dearth of academic and media discussions on the issue.

This chapter deals with the issue of Holocaust from a perspective of creating academic debate on the subject, especially in India and generating a wider awareness against genocide and mass killings. It looks into the way the issue of the Holocaust against Jews is covered and portrayed in the Indian Urdu press. It highlights the lack of awareness among significant section of Indians about the Holocaust and emphasizes the need to create awareness and debate on the issue that should underscore the travails of mass killings and genocides. The chapter articulates a lack of awareness and understanding of the issue among a majority in the Indian Urdu press. It concludes that Holocaust denial and minimization is not a frequent phenomenon in the Indian Urdu press, but it nevertheless is present. Further, it argues that this denial or minimization emanates due to historical ignorance of Holocaust, insensitivity towards the victims and a biased understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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