The loss of lives and the carnage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – not to mention the scrambled response of global leaders to it – inspired me to revisit the above scene from V for Vendetta. Today, death tolls are exponentially rising against the backdrop of austerity cuts to public health infrastructures and, following China’s lead, global leaders have resorted to imposing national lockdowns and curfews to contain the pandemic. With a drastic dip in symptoms being reported in China, their government’s early success at halting the virus through a series of extreme lockdown measures, aided by surveillance technology, is being hailed as a model to be followed. Many countries have now initiated lockdown measures, including the UK, while the Indian government called for a day of national curfew and then a subsequent lockdown.
In popular Eurocentric parlance, the Caliphate is viewed as a relic of a bygone era, its re-establishment constituting a central objective – if not, the objective – of Muslim “fundamentalists” and militants. Yet its trans-“religious” deployment is also evident in culture; for example, from a cursory survey of Western science fiction literature, which reveals how Orientalist framings are negotiated and drawn upon on a regular basis in order to maintain the image of the Caliphate as an institution haunting the future of both the known and unknown universe. The science fiction genre is often portrayed as a landscape enabling readers (and viewers in the case of film and television) to escape the limits of the ‘real’ world into distant ‘other’ worlds imagined as informed by utopian ideals and technological advances – worlds liberated from the ‘actualities’ of everyday life.
On 8th July 2018, senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India Indira Jaising stated that the “lynching of Muslims in India has become a badge of honour for the perpetrators”. Drawing parallels between the lynchings of African-Americans in the late 19th century during the advent of the Jim Crow laws, Jaising argues that lynchings and mob violence in India specifically target Muslims and she urged the Indian government to legislate anti-lynching laws for protecting Muslim minorities.