Atrocity in Kerala

This is a horrific story out of India, and the weird thing is that everyone is condemning the bloody, violent end of the story, but treating the preliminaries as a matter of course. Here’s the outline, as near as I can extract from a scattering of stories, often in poor English.

In March, TJ Joseph, a professor at a private Catholic college in Kerala, gave an exam that apparently offended Muslim students. Here’s the only description of the awful exam question I could find:

The indicted questionnaire however did not include anything that could be construed as against the Muslim religion. The authorities of Newman College, told AsiaNews that in the test, Prof. Joseph tells the story of a fishmonger who, despite hard work, becomes increasingly poor. The monger’s name is Mohammad In his desperation, he spoke to God and also asked his brother why his fortunes were dwindling. His brother told Mohammed: “Why are you calling God, God, God….” Students were asked to specify the punctuation of the narrative.

He was an instructor in Malayalam, one of the many languages of India, so this was an exercise in reading and punctuation. But the Muslim community took offense, for some indecipherable reason, and some bloggers even called the question a “blunder” and “disgraceful”, to my complete bafflement.

It gets worse. He was suspended from his job. He was arrested. One account says his son was also arrested and tortured. He got out on bail, and apparently went into hiding because of the ongoing death threats…so the police put up a wanted poster for his arrest.

This is already insane. Apparently this kind of harrassment is taken for granted in Kerala, and the police are willing to assist in it.

Could it get worse? Of course it can.

In a horrific instance of Talibanism, Muslim fanatics in Kerala on Sunday chopped off the right hand of a college lecturer, accusing him of setting a question paper with a derogatory reference to the Prophet.

Lecturer T J Joseph was returning home from church with his mother and sister around 8.30 am in Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district when he was accosted by the attackers. “We had just got into our car when a van pulled up in front. Around eight people armed with swords and knives emerged and pulled out Joseph after smashing the windscreen.

They then chopped off his right hand and stabbed him in the left thigh,” said Joseph’s sister, Mary Stella, a nun.

Jebus. Karen Armstrong was just complaining that we want to “marginalise religion”. Damned straight we do.