About Communalism: The term Communalism is widely used across
South Asia to describe the systematic misuse of religion for political purposes. It represents the processes of political construction of community identities along religious lines. Communal politics represents one’s own religious community in an antagonistic relationship with 'the other religious community.' Socialy engineered prejudice, tension and conflict between religious communities constitutes communalism.
Harsh Kapoor, 1995
Descriptions like this have led to communalismphobia. An example of it can be found in the opinions of Arundhati Roy (see photograph) and others. In May, Roy called for unitary thought on “communalism and fundamentalism”, seeing both as synonyms for religious zealotry. A national seminar on “media and communalism” was being held in May and began with an “elite group of thinkers and writers calling for a unitary thought against growth of fundamentalism and communalism. The time had come to despise communalism and fundamentalism in all forms.”
The elite group included Booker Award winner Arundathi Roy, Former chief justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar (of Sachar Committee report fame), journalists from Indian Express, NDTV, Frontline and other University teachers and thinkers.
Ofcourse, Arundathi Roy has been right in strongly criticizing authoritian religious fanatics. She has called on the media, opinion makers and people's representatives to consciously put down growth of religious fanaticism with a heavy hand, and was right in doing this.
The workshop and seminar in May, according to the organizers, was an effort to focus on “the increasing communalization of society through out the Karavalli belt - the situation continues to remain communally tense with an incident of violence being reported every single day from the region.
Media has a potential to effectively intervene in the public discourse during times of communal conflict, When infused with secular voices and with a realization of its responsibility, the media plays an important role in diffusing myths, misconceptions and hatred that is propagated in society by communal forces.”
The seminar and workshop was geared to address students, young journalists and activists “in the attempt to understand the slow communalization of the public sphere through mainstream media”.