If Muslims can’t back Pakistan, can Bengalis…

At the height of the pseudo-nationalism of the Lalchand Kishinchand Advani kind, a key crib pumped-up Hindus held against Muslims was that they (Muslims) cheered for Pakistan in India-Pakistan matches.

Never mind if it nobody ever saw the crackers going off or slogans being shouted, never mind if only a few Muslims in some ghetto were “guilty”… but by repeating the lie ad nauseam, the charge stuck and helped stereotype the community.

Today, NDTV 24X7 is running a news item from Calcutta on Bengalis supporting Bangladesh in the World Cup. Whether these are Bengalis in general or just Bengali Muslims in particular we can only guess, but shops are apparently doing brisk business selling the green-and-red Bangladesh jerseys.

Is this OK? Is this OK only when India is not taking part in a match or tournament? Is it OK to support Bangladesh but not OK to support Pakistan? Or does sport always transcend borders, mental if not physical, which fundamentalists of either kind will never recognise?