Burhan Wani was no Che Guevara

JNU student Umar Khalid, accused of sedition and out on bail, has compared the recently slain Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujhadeen leader, with Che Guevara, the guy whose iconic picture, especially on T-shirts, often symbolizes protest and youthful idealism. The comparison, however, insults Guevara who, a murderer though he was, did not champion the cause of jihad—the darkest force mankind has ever faced.

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (1928-1967) was an Argentine doctor who became a communist revolutionary. He was a key player in the Cuban Revolution (1959). As a medical student, Guevara had the opportunity to visit all over South America; the hunger, misery, and disease he saw among the poor pricked his conscience and changed his vocation. His heart was in the right place, but his mind betrayed him; he chose the wrong path: he became a Marxist. Then, after a few adventures, came his legendary association with the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raúl, the overthrow of the US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Guevara became a high-ranking official in post-revolution Cuba. Among his other duties was the review of the appeals of those who were convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals. It is here that he earned eternal ignominy, for he exhibited considerable fondness for upholding the sentences and using the firing squads against the so-called enemies of the revolution. “Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!”

On another occasion, he wrote, “It is hatred that makes our soldiers into violent and cold-blooded killing machines.”

This was the man whose picture millions of people carry on their T-shirts, many of them unknowingly. The irony is that big corporations make these garments. Lenin was right when he said that the capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.

Yet, the comparison between Guevara and a young Islamist is odious and misleading. The reason is simple: Guevara believed in communism, a modern ideology, while Wani fought for Islamism, a misogynist, supremacist pathology. For communism, despite all drawbacks is not backward-looking; and it surely in not misogynistic. Stalin and Mao didn’t throw women behind veils; the communist stalwarts just killed women—of course, along with men.

Wani, on the other hand, believed in an ideology that regards women as objects to be used for sex, beaten at will, and disposed of whenever you feel like. Hence the burqa, the extreme subjugation of women in Muslim societies where Salafism is gaining ground, the revival of sex slavery, and the publicized slaughter of those jihadists don’t like.

Guevara, for all his faults, did not want to take the world to the seventh century AD, while this was the sole purpose of Wani.

Umar is not the only one who is eulogizing Wani; there is an over-ground army of jihad supporters. They don’t demand that jihadists should be given a free hand; but whatever they do ends up Islamists. Any killing of a terrorist leader is called ‘extra-judicial’; every action against mobs is excessive. And there are efforts to glorify murderous thugs like Wani as heroes, as Che Guevara. Umar’s endeavor is in this direction.