India’s “Beef” Between Church and State

By Austin Cherkas | INDIA

Every country has cultural taboos, something that is either not moral, not spiritual, not ethical, or just plain disturbing. Taboo things can be similar or different when you compare countries together. Some taboos can cause major outrage and lead to violence. We can see violence in India when for Muslim teenagers ate beef.

To give some background on this outrage on beef, we must look at India’s religions. A 2011 Indian Census reveals the religious background within their country. It is estimated that the leading religion of Hinduism has 80% of the population, Islam is in second with 13%. An analysis of the Hindu religion reveals more insight into why there was a “beef battle”. It is noted that the majority of Hindu believers do not eat beef, the reason is that cows are Gomaata, a motherly deity. When mothers cannot breastfeed their baby, they use a cow, this a long standing tradition in India. Hindu teaching expressed a principle of, “All creatures capable of feeling pain and emotion are EQUAL in spirit, to human beings and should be treated accordingly. No creature should be subordinated to the human purpose at the expense of violating its right to not be subjected to cruel treatment.” These core beliefs in 80% of India is what drove violence on the 23rd of June.

Four Muslim teenagers were attempting to board a train in Haryana state. It was reported that they were not allowed to board the train because they were carrying beef. This outraged a knife-wielding mob of 20 men, killing one of the four teenagers–16-year-old Junaid Khan. The other three were seriously hurt. The father of Junaid Khan made a statement saying, “the four boys were targeted after being taunted about their Muslim clothing.” The brother of Khan also made a statement saying, “They were pointing at a packet which had food and saying we should not be allowed to sit since we were carrying beef… the mob had paid no attention to our repeated protestations that we were not carrying any beef.” In India, it is illegal to kill cows in several states. Police arrested two attackers for murder.

This situation leads into a bigger discussion. Should the government make laws based on religious principle? Should there be a separation of religion and state? Should minorities follow the culture of the majority? Is religion a good enough excuse to murder? Whatever your thoughts may be, be sure to remember that four teenagers were attacked for possibly having beef on them.

Author’s Note: I’m not of Hindu belief so there could be possible inaccuracies regarding Hindu beliefs.


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