At its launch in 2003, Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD) had noted it was taking birth “at a critical juncture when India’s Constitution and democracy are in serious danger of being subverted from within and replaced by a fascist regime”. As we re-launch the organisation now as Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD), the signals are even more ominous. No less worrisome is the apparent drastic rightward shift of the political centre across the globe, with racism and religious extremism on the rise.

Sustained hate propaganda, systematic communalisation of India’s history, complemented through the ‘saffronisation of education’, instigation of communal violence and terror to polarise Indian society and painstaking organisation building, have been the sangh parivar’s preoccupation for nearly a century now. Today, having made deep inroads into the mass psyche, having infiltrated and captured State institutions, sangh parivar outfits including its parliamentary wing (BJP) are cynically misusing and manipulating the instruments and institutions of democracy to subvert them from within.

The suppression of the country’s minorities, Dalits, OBCs, tribals, peasants and the working class, are part of Hindutva’s agenda to subvert the Indian Constitution. Intense, unchecked hate propaganda has succeeded to the point that anti-Muslim prejudice, and worse, is now the prevailing “common sense”.

As an organisation of Muslims, for IMSD it is a matter of greater concern that in recent decades, within India and internationally a section of Muslims who claim to speak or act in the name of Islam and Muslims, reinforce the image of the community as one of ‘fundamentalists’, ‘fanatics’, ‘extremists’, ‘anti-nationals’; a community ‘unprepared for, or incapable of, peaceful coexistence with others’. Extremist and terrorist organisations such as those mushrooming in our immediate neighbourhood, as also the Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, are adding fuel to the growing ‘Islamophobia’, in India and globally.

The big challenge before Muslims today is to rediscover the compassionate, pluralistic and tolerant traditions within Islam, the Islam which the bigots and the extremists seek to destroy. MSD is being re-launched as IMSD to promote the values of equality, justice, freedom, compassion, human rights and the rule of law.