We are the Holiest of the Holy

On May 22, BBC reported that a jeweled 41.2 gram gold ring that was taken by a British general as Tipu Sultan lay dead was sold May 22 for $244,000 (£145,000) by London’s Christie’s auction house. Aha, the news item says the ring was “taken” by the general from the king’s body after 1799 Srirangappattitum battle he fought against the British East India Company. In simpler English, the general stole the ring because the spoils of war should have gone to his employers, the British East India Company, and not his private horde. However, this is but a minor theft. Since 1877, British monarchs, Victoria onwards have worn the crown bearing the storied Koh-i-Noor (the “Mountain of Light”) diamond that was stolen from (undivided) India. Originally 793 carats when uncut, it is now 105.6 metric carats weighing 21.6 grams. It was seized by the British in 1849. The gem was stolen from Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk by the sikh chieftain, Maharajah Ranjit Singh, and in turn Lord Dalhousie, the governor general representing the Company, squeezed it out of him for Victoria. The British and other western museums are teeming with looted objects. Of course there is nary a thought about restoring these to their rightful owners. Now contrast this with the concern shown in restoring art and objects stolen by the Nazis. The argument is that the theft of property was an inseparable part of the genocide by the Nazis. But then the looting, theft, and destruction of Muslim lands and wealth is also part of the continuing genocide. Who is going to address these crimes? Certainly, the perpetrators would never cleanse themselves of the evil they have wrought.

The principle of equal treatment should be applied to redressing all crimes. Or, is it Orwellian speak that are some are more entitled to the proceeds of crime?

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