After the assassination of the school teacher Samuel Paty in October 2020, the national minister of education Jean-Michel Blanquer claimed that so-called ‘Islamo-gauchisme’ (Islamo-leftism) was tremendously damaging universities in France. The statement clearly elucidated, French academics and their students are tacitly promoting a hazardous, divisive, anti-republican ideology and justifying self-censorship in the name of political decorum. French Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal was asked if Islamo-gauchisme or Islamo-leftism pollutes French universities, she answered that “Islamo-leftism not only pollutes universities but the whole of society.”(The Telegraph, Feb., 17, 2021).
The left groups allege that in France, ‘Islamo-gauchisme’ is the watchword of a widening attack on basic freedoms, targeting anti-racists and the left. The issue of Islamic terrorism in France escalated in the 1980’s and 1990’s with attacks such as the attacks in Paris in 1985-1986 by Hezbollah, and the 1995 Paris Metro bombings claimed by the Armed Islamic Group. Groups such as the Armed Islam Group (GIA) launched a series of attacks in the late 1990’s to force France to stop supporting the Algerian Government against the GIA and other groups’ attempts at establishing Islamic states in North Africa. But the French left have been silent on all such attacks by Jihadi terror groups.
The alliance between Islam and Communism has a history.Between 1 and 7th September 1920, the First Congress of the Peoples of the East met in Baku, capital of Soviet Azerbaijan. At the Baku congress, several speakers emphasized that there was no contradiction between Islam and communism. Anatolii Skachko of the people’s commissariat for nationalities, stated that ‘the Muslim religion is rooted in principles of religious communism.
Patrick Hesse discusses how after the October Revolution, movements emerged with the aim of setting up a kind of ‘Muslim communism.’ They proclaimed, and proceeded to give theoretical substance to, a fundamental compatibility of communism and Islam.
Currently, according to director of Centre for Global Academics (CGA) at the Kerala University, the institution has received a record number of 1,042 applications from foreign students, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq, besides Syria, Palestine and Indonesia this year for admission to various courses. The maximum number of applicants are from Afghanistan and Iraq, and in both cases the admission is sought mostly for PhD courses(Record number of foreign students seek admission to University in The Times of India, June 24, 2021). These regions such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the breeding grounds for Islamic State activities.
Following the September 2020 United Nations report, that there are “significant numbers” of ISIS terrorists in Kerala, outgoing Kerala Police Chief Loknath Behra clarified in his interactions with television channels on June 27, 2021 that the recruitment of people to the Islamic State (IS) posed serious concern. Why this has escalated in a state ruled continuously by a left government for the second term is a vital question.
The European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2017 reveals that attacks planned against the West continues in Syria and Iraq. Groups including IS and al-Qaeda are believed to have both the intent and capabilities to mount complex, mass casualty attacks. IS is training operatives in Syria/Iraq to carry out terrorist acts in the West and has no shortage of volunteers to be part of teams to be sent abroad for this purpose. This report forwarded by Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol, has much significance, since majority of students coming to the Kerala University are from Iraq and Syria. The situation shall also deteriorate India’s bilateral relationship with the west.
The NIA charge sheet in the Omar Al Hindi module in August 2017, revealed that the ISIS has attracted recruits from Kerala to its territories in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Among the ISIS sympathizers that have been arrested, a majority hail from Kerala, who are well-educated, including engineers, doctors and MBA degree holders. Since mid seventies, the state has seen the emergence of Islamist groups like the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the banned Islamic Sevak Sangh (ISS) floated by Abdul Nasser Madani and the National Development Front, now rechristened as Popular Front of India (PFI).
The association of left-dominated universities in Kerala with radical Islamic icons and groups is not new. In 2010, under left government, an International Seminar on Languages organized by the University of Kerala turned into a controversy over the list of invitees. The invitees included Yusuf Al-Quradawi, a Qatar-based Islamic scholar, who was to share dais with the Marxist Chief Minister V S Achyuthanandan. With the past of Al Quradawi coming into lime light, his arrival to left-ruled Kerala was cancelled.
Controversial preacher Zakir Naik delivered key note address of the International Quran Seminar held in Kerala in April 25, 2010 under the left government (World Qur’an seminar opens in Kerala in Arab News, April 30, 2010). This “International Conference on the Language, Interpretations and Science of Holy Qura’n” was sponsored by the University of Kerala.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a charge sheet in a special court against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik for allegedly inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities. The controversial preacher has been accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years ( NIA files charge sheet against Zakir Naik in hate speech, incitement case in The Hindu, Oct. 26, 2017).
Left fellow traveler and former Indian Vice President, Hamid Ansari had earlier stirred a huge controversy by inaugurating a national conference (Sept. 2017) at Kozhikode, Kerala, organized by the National Women’s Front (NWF), women’s wing of the Popular Front of India, notorious for its terror links (Row over Hamid Ansari attending PFI conference, in The Hindu, Sept. 23, 2017). The arrest of a student, Mubeen Ahmed, with ISI links, and the brutal assault on Intelligence Bureau officer Rajan Sharma who was on duty at Aligarh Muslim University, happened when Hameed Ansari was Vice Chancellor (Arrest of AMU student with alleged ISI links shows all’s not well, in India Today, Oct 2, 2000).
Controversial preacher Zakir Naik was elected to the managing body of Aligarh Muslim University in 2013, in the religious scholar category. (India Today, July 12, 2016).Naik was elected to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Court, the varsity’s inner council which takes all crucial decisions.
Delhi Police’s investigation into the case of conspiracy behind the 2020 Delhi riots has revealed that, one of the prime accused, Khalid Saifi, had met Zakir Naik in Malaysia in the run-up to the riots.( Delhi riots accused met Zakir Naik in Malaysia, got NRI funds in The Times of India, July 5, 2020). Saifi has stated that he knew former JNU left activist Umar Khalid since 2017 after which the two of them started a face book page by the name of United Against Hate.
The proposal to have an off-centre campus of Aligarh Muslim University in Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram district was clearly a political move by the Left government to appease the Muslims who form 24.7 per cent of the population. This has added fuel to the growth of Wahhabism in Kerala region, funded from the Arab world. A recent India Today investigation found several madrasas in Malappuram and northern Kerala teaching Wahhabism. The investigation found that such madrasas were mostly funded by unknown donors in Gulf states, through underground channels (India Today, Jan 10, 2018).
Kabir Taneja and Mohammad Sinan Siyech in The Islamic State in India’s Kerala: A Primer (Oct. 2019) have highlighted that the southern state of Kerala has been found to have the highest number of pro-IS cases in all of India, with about 40 of the 180 to 200 cases. These are individuals who have either displayed an inclination to travel to West Asia to join the caliphate, or in fact did so; as well as a sizeable number who are currently being prosecuted by law enforcement agencies and the courts, according to Taneja and Siyech. According to them, in the context of data collected for the operation, “Kerala’s Kannur district had the highest number of people identified for pro-IS inclinations, at 118 (not necessarily arrested, charged or prosecuted), followed by Malappuram (89) and Kasaragod” all major left strongholds, which have collectively voted the LDF back to power for a second term in May 2021 .
FBI director Christopher Wray warned about the potential threat posed by Chinese students in American universities, not just to the government, but to the society. Wray said his warning was not just for the intelligence community, but also America’s academic and private sectors (The Chinese Student Threat, Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 15, 2018).
Although American universities get funds from many countries, China has emerged as the biggest donor. One university received research funding from a Chinese multinational conglomerate to develop new algorithms and advance biometric security techniques for crowd surveillance capabilities. Another had multiple contracts with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, while yet another received gifts from a foundation suspected of acting as a front for the Chinese government (Universities failed to report US$ 1.3 bn in foreign funding, University World News, Dec. 13, 2019). The findings were revealed in a letter by Reed Rubinstein, principal deputy general counsel of the Department of Education on behalf of the Office of the General Counsel, to Rob Portman, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The Confucius Institute (CI) programme which began establishing centers for Chinese language studies in 2004, has been the subject of criticisms, concerns, and controversies about undermining academic freedom at host universities, engaging in industrial and military espionage, surveillance of Chinese students abroad, and attempts to advance Beijing’s political agendas on controversial issues such as Taiwan, and human rights in China and Tibet.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure approved a statement in June 2014 that called on colleges across the United States and Canada to reconsider their partnerships with Chinese language and culture centers financed by the People’s Republic of China, through Confucius Institutes, which places limitations on academic freedom and threatens their scholastic integrity.
In Britain, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission held an inquiry in February 2019 into the Confucius Institutes, numbering to 29. The inquiry found that they threaten academic freedom and freedom of expression in universities around the world and represent an endeavour by the Chinese Communist Party to spread its propaganda and suppress critics beyond its borders (China’s Confucius Institutes: An Inquiry by the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, February 2019).
The US Education Department is under pressure to take a larger role against undue foreign influence by enforcing laws that require colleges and universities to be more transparent about their foreign relationships. Dr. Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was indicted for lying about his involvement with the Chinese government’s Thousand Talents Plan (U.S. Department of Education Launches Investigation into Foreign Gifts Reporting at Ivy League Universities, Press Release, Feb.12, 2020). Dr. M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, Detroit, said the Thousand Talents Plan aims to lure global experts from Western universities and private companies to work in China and build its capabilities in science and technology.
Saudi Arabia has been the largest source of donations from Islamic states and royal families to British universities, mostly for the study of Islam, the Middle East and Arabic literature. Initially and up to 1990, papers and books on Islamic finance (IF) and Islamic Economics (IE) were printed and published only in the Islamic world and by Islamic institutions.
Extremist ideas are being spread by Islamic study centers linked to British universities and backed by multi-million-pound donations from Saudi Arabia and Islamic organizations. Anthony Glees, Director of Brunel University’s Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, stated that the funds accounted for the largest source of external funding to UK universities, and warned that nearly 48 universities had been infiltrated by Islamic fundamentalists (Extremism Studies over Islam Studies Donations, The Telegraph, April 13, 2008).
According to a study commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and conducted by Thomson Reuters, India has seen a ten-fold rise in its research association with Saudi Arabia in the last decade. While institutions such as the IITs, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Delhi University have been involved with Saudi Arabia, there has been a rise in collaborations with researchers at Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia (Education: The pillar of Saudi Arabia, The Hindu Business Line, April 10, 2017). Gulf funding to Indian universities and Islamic research centres increased in the last decade. Between 2011–2013, according to an Intelligence Bureau report, 25,000 Wahhabis visited India for missionary work and brought $250 million to propagate Wahhabism. Another key project is setting up four universities, at a cost of $1.2 billion. The radical Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, which first set up base in Kashmir, is spearheading Wahhabi operations across India (Does Saudi-funded Muslim Radicalization Threaten India? Haaretz, April 16, 2018).
The Indian Home Ministry clarified in 2012 that Jamia Millia Islamia is exempt from the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (Jamia can receive and spend foreign funds, Deccan Herald, Sept., 21, 2012). Radical Islamists who channel Gulf money have key posts in these universities, as in the case of controversial preacher Zakir Naik in Aligarh Muslim University .
Despite such national security issues, Indian Universities have research projects with Chinese institutions. Prof. Alka Acharya, Centre for East Asian Studies (Chinese Studies) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that JNU and Delhi University each have ties with about 25 Chinese institutions.
Citing China’s support for Kashmir militants and Maoists, the University Grants Commission stated in October 2019 that Indian colleges and universities will not be able to collaborate with Chinese institutions without prior approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs (India restricts university collaborations with China, University World News, Oct. 10, 2019). This decision followed the Centre’s multi-disciplinary groups set up to help NIA choke finances of left wing extremism, in 2018.
India has not yet studied external funding of our higher education and growth of Red Jihadi nexus in our universities. The network of urban Naxals in campuses funded by China is not a new development. Maharashtra’s Anti Naxal Operations (ANO) officials are looking at the activities of students at St Xavier’s College and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai and Fergusson College, Pune, for possible links to Maoists (Maoists at the city gates, India Today, Sept 30, 2013). Security expert RSN Singh says there are attempts to create many such pro-China leftists and ultra-leftists in Delhi, Kurukshetra and Dehradun universities (Maoists: China’s Proxy Soldiers, Indian Defense Review, Jul-Sep, 2010).
RSN Singh also observes that the bonding of jihad and Maoism has been in ferment for some years. It was witnessed on several platforms wherein characters like Sussane Arundhati Roy and Gilani were most prominent. It then travelled to JNU, Jadavpur and Osmani Universities. It needs to be reiterated that these universities are neither located in tribal areas nor are impacted by Pak sponsored jihadi terrorism. How then these two ideologies made a tryst in JNU and subsequently in other universities is a serious issue raised by Singh.
Singh highlights that the recent Maoist-Jihadist tryst in universities was planned and effected by the Pakistan High Commission with the main role being played by one Iqbal Cheema of the ISI. Apart from money, the common jihadi and Maoist ideology of destruction of India was leveraged to bring together Kanhiya and the jihadis. Cheema was subsequently compelled to leave India. But later in Jadavpur University, in addition to the slogans ‘Bharat Tere Tukre Honge’ (India will be torn to pieces) and ‘Kashmir Mange Azadi ‘ as observed by RSN Singh.
In May 2019, Brian M. Perkins wrote on fast emerging Islamic State in Kerala in an article titled Rising Threat of Radicalization in Kerala and Connections to Sri Lanka. Perkins highlighted that Kerala police stated in 2017 that they believed upward of 100 individuals had joined IS in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria Additionally, militants hailing from Kerala have also been identified as fighting alongside ISJK (Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir), suggesting links not only to IS branches outside of India but also those far closer geographically.
It is students from the IS core regions in West Asia, that are currently flocking to the university under the left government in Kerala for laying foundation of the new Red Green Alliance. Organising violent protest by students against the Central government is a political stratagem for inciting mass upheavals and global attention.