Ayub Khan (2003):
“In the past decade Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst has emerged as the most prominent advocate of Sangh Parivar in the West. His vociferous defence of the Hindu right is equally matched by his rabid attacks on Islam.”
Koenraad Elst is one of the most important ideologues of the 'New' Right in Europe. He has often been accused of islamophobic writings, and his writings have formed an important inspiration for the, in the north of Belgium, electorally very successful far Right.
Elst, according to Wikipedia, lives near Antwerp. In the city of Antwerp the far Right sometimes obtains more than one third of the votes. Elst has graduated in Philosophy, Chinese Studies and Indo-Iranian Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven.
During a stay at the Benares Hindu University, he (in his own words) “discovered” India's “communal problem” and wrote his first book about “the budding Ayodhya conflict”. While establishing himself as a columnist for a number of Belgian and Indian papers, he frequently returned to India to study “various aspects of its ethno-religio-political configuration” and interviewed Hindu and other leaders and thinkers. His research on the ideological developments within “Hindu revivalism” earned him his Ph.D. in the Belgian university city of Leuven in 1998.
Elst has also edited a book on Sita Ram Goel, a writer who passed away at his residence in Delhi at the end of 2003. He often courted the label of “Hindu communalist”. Koenraad Elst, the ardent supporter of paganism then invited eighteen contributors to write on Goel and what he stood for. Some of the contributions were testimonial or biographical, but others dealt with the ideological controversies that Goel initiated and thrived on.
India's Only Communalist : In Commemoration of Sita Ram Goel/edited by Koenraad Elst. New Delhi, Voice of India, 2005, vii, 353 p., $25. ISBN 81-85990-78-6.
The title of this book was a tongue-in-the-cheek response to the fact that Goel called himself a communalist. According to Elst, Goel was one of India's most important thinkers in the post-independence era. “His writings are central to the recent Hindu awakening in the country that is now growing rapidly to world prominence. While his Guru and colleague, Ram Swarup, laid the spiritual and philosophical basis for the movement, the detailed analysis and in-depth articulation was supplied by Mr. Goel. The current generation of Hindu writers owes a lot to him for charting a clear course for them to follow. As this movement develops, his work is bound to become yet more significant.” (Koenraad Elst, 2005)
According to Elst the man “sometimes made his task of gaining support for his views unnecessarily difficult by his way of expressing dissent, e.g. by openly courting the label 'Hindu Communalist', which clashed with some people's excessive sensitivity to his candid language. Happily, there are now winds of change and the ideas he propounded are proving their worth. It is time that the people of India, the media in particular, gave him his due.”
The book that Elst edited was in Goel's honour. Elst, 2005 : “It contains 18 contributions written independently of one another. Some are purely testimonial or biographical, others set out to continue his work by taking on historical or ideological controversies.”