The situation was tense across the Punjab as the date of the anticipated British partition of India loomed in the near future. The Sikh community paraded about with unsheathed kirpans. Brickbats were wielded and soda bottle incendiary devices were being crudely constructed. Neighborhoods within the cities, being identified by their particular demographic - Hindu, Muslim and Sikh - began to initiate perimeter fortifications with whatever materials were available. The outlying villages suffered greater exposure and vulnerability to sudden acts of violence especially if located near the rail lines. They became easy targets for marauders and mob anarchy. Flashpoints of violence were ebbing and flowing across the countryside and creating a seascape of brewing storm. It was May 1947.
Although Lahore had remained relatively calm the city of Amritsar had been gripped with civil strife for quite some time. Everything changed for the inhabitants of Lahore when Muslims in Amritsar sent a packet containing churians (glass bangles) and henna to their Muslim counterparts as a taunt against the cowardice of the men for not attacking the Hindus and Sikhs within the city. The cleverly delivered propaganda ploy had the desired effect and within a matter of days Lahore was gripped with street violence and acts of arson. Murder and mayhem prevailed. Bangles and henna. That is all it took for a community which formerly resided side-by-side in peace to fall into guerilla warfare.
Cognizant that many other factors were also at play in the Punjab it is still good to remember that an old-fashioned bloody cockfight can be arranged with a small number of participants and minimal resources.
Jihad sites are indeed the new bangles and henna. The webmasters are actually capons. They hide behind jihad of the pen to avoid death. They cannot lay claim to strategic brilliance regarding operational considerations. But their worth is in their ability to build small online cages where gamecocks are nurtured. The blood sport being promoted is cockfights that are eternal against a generalized as opposed to imminent threat. Sufficiently cognitively conditioned a gamecock will perform as expected. While the average time to nurture a young gamecock is two years, my gut tells me six months is sufficient conditioning for the average human brain.
But for areas already under the duress of change and perceived threat? Bangles and henna sites are adequate adornment.
Allah proclaimed the world an expansive place. So be it. But this expanse is increasingly populated by the people groups of the world residing in close proximity. We are neighbors. How should neighbors act?