August 2014 had marked the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War (the Great War), which saw some people’s world destroyed and for some their lives were battered and bruised, and changed forever. The Great War played a significant role in the rise and fall of states and empires, the personal fortunes of individuals, and the development of science and technology. In times of war, Government gave themselves special powers and in Mauritius the colonial authorities had strict guidelines from the Mother country. Thus the war years provide us with useful lenses to look at the prejudices and problems related to several issues such as colonial race relation, religious and/or racial profiling and other related aspects.  This short piece will briefly focus on some of these in an attempt to supplement some pieces which appeared in the local press in 2014 and during this year. More specially ,the excellent exhibition put up by two French secondary colleges in May to memorize the outset of the Great War and its impact on colonial Mauritius, and the write up of Ms Ackung in L’Express of September 2014 to supplement her academic publication which explored further other issues.(Akung.M 2014).The two mentors of the French colleges have published a well-documented paper on the « 150  Mauriciens » who gave « leur vie pour la liberté » and other aspects of the war. (Chompton-Ahnee.C&Renaud.C 2015).
In Mauritius, the imperial government has always closely monitored the loyalties and attachments of the various ethnic groups. Religious and/or racial profiling based on « the pseudo-scientific theories of racial difference that were the bedrock of colonial race relations and racialised capitalism during the colonial era »(Noor .F 2011) were embedded in most colonial policies regarding Mauritius. During the First World war, the imperial government issued an Order in Council of 21 March 1916 from the King to enforce censorship on ‘publications, writings, maps, plans’ and the governor was empowered to ‘arrest, detain, exclude and deport ‘,(SA299)hence  a rigid form of military censorship was put in place. The brunt of this blanket surveillance fell on the postal system and a close monitoring of the population, most likely through informants and the Police, was imposed.
The standing of the population of Indian origin, specially Muslims, was going to be put to test during the First World War. In Mauritius, most Indians understood that  there were  some contractual obligations and loyalties to an imperial mother state as colonial subjects. Indeed at the very outset of the war in early November 1914, Issac G.M, the foremost Indian Muslim politician of the day as a Municipal councillor, published a manifesto in the local press to reassure the colonial authority as Indian Muslims were « fidèles sujets du roi George VI, notre   empereur ». But he also exhorted the Muslims to « n’écoutez pas donc ceux qui racontent des absurdités », as Britain has given the assurance that Mecca and Medina in Arabia, the two most sacred places in Islam, would be protected. This reassurance infers that there was a feeling of despondency in the community. Furthermore, the Muslim merchants and dukanwallahs – retailers in rural areas – conveyed a « loyal message » to the imperial government through the Governor on 14 November 1914. We do not know the tenor of this pledge as it was sent as a secret and coded telegraphic  dispatch from the « Mohamedan Surtee Society ».
Background to the profiling of the Indians in Mauritius
To understand the standpoint of Indian Muslims, we have to briefly apprehend  the history of the Islamic population at the turn of the twentieth century. Muslims throughout the world looked up to the Ottoman Turks, as most of the Middle East and Egypt were under Ottoman rule and as such the sultan of Turkey was the guardian of Mecca and Medina. In short, the sultan held the khalifat and his command, very often in the form of a fatwa issued by the royal maulana (priest), had to be heeded. Furthermore after every Friday prayers in the then Muslim world, doahs (supplications) are performed in the mosques in the name of the sultan. In India, Muslims considered the Ottoman Empire as a bulwark of Muslim power following the collapse of Mogul rule in the 1850s.
On 29 October 1914, the Turks entered the war on the side of the  Central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) against the Entente Powers (Britain,France and Russia). The relationship between Germany and Turkey was very cordial following Kaiser William visit to Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1898 when he praised Islam while meditating on the grave of Salaudin. During the Balkan War (1912-13),when Turkey, dubbed « the Sick Man of Europe » by Britain and France, lost all of its European territories, Germany supported her. On 14 November 1914,Sultan Mehmed V through Shayk –al – Islam Essad Effendi issued five fatwas, for the Islamic world to unite and support the caliphate, and promising the faith of martyr to all Muslims who were to die fighting the Entente Powers.(Motadel .D 2014). Skeikul- islam Essad Effendi called for jihad – a holy war against  Britain and France similar to the one issued  during the Crusades by the Christians. (cfTolan .J 2014) Other exegetes, such as Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar of India called for the uprising of the Muslims against the Ferrangis (the British). And an All India Caliphate Committee was set up by Muslim intellectuals with Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad as one of its most active member to support Turkey.
Overseas Indians both Hindus and Moslems started the organization of some sort of movement towards the liberation of India from British yoke. Indian nationalist leaders like Shyamji Krishna Varma in London, Mohammad Barkatullah in New York and Har Dayal and Sohan Singh Bharkna on the Pacific coast of USA set up cells. Eventually the « Ghadar conspiracy » was hatched out in California, and its main objective was « to entice Indian soldiers (of which there were 1.3 millions in the British colonial army fighting on the Western Front) to revolt against British commanding officers’.(Giles Brown The Hindu Conspiracy 1914-1917 quoted by  Noor.F) Activists were sent to India, and from there to areas where Indian troops were stationed.
The ideas of all these groups were readily ventilated in Mauritius as communication between India and Mauritius had improved following the introduction of the steamship and the development of printing. The peripatetic visits of both Hindu and Muslim clerics from India helped to propagate new religious ideas and political development in the local Indian community.
Profiling and Imprisonment
As a result of the wide powers conferred on the Governor from Orders in Council,   the implementation of a rigid racial profiling of Indians and Europeans bearing links with Germany, led to the setting up of a robust surveillance system. It is safe to assume that a network of informants buttressed by an almost ubiquitous Police   force similar to the one in operation in Malaysia was in existence. (Noor.F) The blanket surveillance of Muslims were stepped up following the mutiny of the 5th Light Infantry Native Battalion, made up exclusively of Muslim sepoys, in Singapore on 15 February 1915. The sepoys were made to believe that they would be sent to the Western Front to fight their Muslim brothers, the Turks. During the trial it was revealed that imam Nur Alam Shah, a member of the Ghadar movement was the main instigator. British, French, Russian and Japanese forces quelled the sepoy revolt and later 47 mutineers were executed by a firing squad. This mutiny sent ripples through the empire. Indians suspected of harbouring feelings of sympathy for the Ghadar movement were under close surveillance.
From the outset of the war, Mauritians bearing German surnames were looked upon as suspected characters. The case of Joseph Gabrielle Philippe Koenig,who according to a high official pleading the latter’s case with the Colonial Office » has nothing otherwise in common with the Huns » is well documented. Koenig who had worked in South Africa was debarred from work in Mauritius as a chemist. He was allowed to after the Colonial Office acknowledged that ‘the family of Koenig is well known in the British colony of Mauritius’. (PRO)
All letters through the postal service were censored and their content was noted. It was through this form of censorship that some people were queried and later a strict profiling was put in force. From the outset of the war, Mr. Rose, owner of the shop, English Stores, ‘close to the camp’ at Vacoas who seemed to have cultivated some form of’ ‘intimacy with  non-commissioned officers’, was under surveillance. In July 1914, a letter from his nephew written in German was intercepted and it was discovered that Rose was in fact Rosenberg. He seemed to have lived in England since his childhood and took an English wife. His store was raided by the Police and other letters were impounded. (PRO) It is safe to assume that he was subsequently deported.
On the other hand, we know more about the harassment of Brother Ignace Adrien, teacher at Saint Joseph College, Curepipe since 1913.According to Police records of 1917, a letter of Bro Adrien to his mother in Germany was intercepted by the censors. In sum his real name was Johan Schitz and he wanted to have news about his family and friends. He was interrogated and allowed to stay after having pledged that he ‘will not act in any way inimical to the interests of GREAT BRITAIN », he ‘will not go outside the limits of Plaines Wilhems District’, and further he would have to « report himself at the Curepipe Police every Monday ».
Early in 1915, five ‘Germans’ were ‘interned’ and according to the Governor reporting to the Colonial Office « that move has had a good effect upon the Mohamedans and has given them a bit of fright ».(PRO) Later in June of 1915 ,the Governor informed Mr Collins of the Colonial Office that « Jai Gopal, our Indian Registrar of Banks » was « shocked by the attitude of the Indians in Mauritius towards Government. »(PRO) In fact, these secret despatches indicate the feelings of despondency of the Indian population in particular the Muslims. Governor Chancellor asked for British troops to be sent and as minuted by the officer at the Colonial Office « it is quite clear that he (the Governor) means White troops » to  replace the present detachment of Indian Battalion of the 5th Light Infantry who mutinied at Singapore and « would scarcely be much protection against Mohamedan disaffection ». It was in this set up that Indians were to be jailed  in Mauritius and others  deported to India.
The Extraordinary issue of the Mauritius Government Gazette bearing No 77 of the 8th November, 1915 informed the population that  the General Court Martial has sentenced Hossen Khan Nandeer – his name was Naudeer — to five years of penal servitude for  « endeavouring to seduce persons in His Majesty’s  Regular Forces from allegiance to His Majesty ». It is safe to assume that he tried to propagate the messages of the Ghadar movement that united Hindus and Muslims in the cause of Indian independence among the sepoys stationed in Mauritius, most likely following the February events in Singapore. Naudeer was a journalist, the editor of The Indo-Mauritian. The second count of « by word of mouth spreading reports calculating to create unnecessary despondency » was far more complex as it was linked most likely to the activities of  the first Ahmadi  missionary in Mauritius. Hossen Sheriff Mohamed Mastan, « un marchand de légumes et son compagnon de combat », ( Soopramania.G 2009) was  sentenced to one year hard labour.
It is safe to assume from the Confidential Despatch of the 30th December,1915 of Governor Chancellor to the imperial government about the « List of persons to Quit the colony of Mauritius » started the process of deportation. Deportation is the forced removal of a non-citizen from a host country to his or her own country of citizenship. The first  name on   the list was Pundit Jugurnath, whose letter to the Gadhar activists of San Francisco was intercepted by the censors and it revealed his « desire to instigate rebellion ». The Gujarati brothers Amodkhan and Mounshi Mamodekhan Valikhan were under surveillance and were « heard on several occasions to give vent to anti-British feelings » during public disputations(munazara) with the first Ahmadi missionary held at the Sunnee Surtee Hall at Desforges Street, Port-Louis. Amodkhan was a Policeman  from Baroda and his brother was  a writer and interpreter (mounshi).The merchants – Makhi Moosa, Moosajee Harriff and Malic Amode were among the deportees because their « statements (were) calculated to promote sedition and disaffection » as they were also involved in disputation with the Ahmadis. The last person was Jaysankar Pathak, who came from South Africa. He was deported as  his activities were « likely to cause religious controversies ». Most probably Pathak was linked to the  Arya Samaj movement. From this list  we gather that these deportees were opinion leaders for the Indian community, specially Moosajee Harriff a prominent member of the merchant class .He ventilated the ideas of the Gadhar movement and also the Khalifat as Muslims venerated this « high spiritual office », which was held by the Sultan of Turkey. Hence we read in several dispatches from the imperial  government to the Governor  the need to reassure the Muslim community of the « His Majesty’s Government’s » pledge  » regarding the immunity of the Holy Places (Mecca and Medina) ». Furthermore,  parliamentary debates about  the khalifat were made available to the Governor most likely to be communicated to Indian leaders in Mauritius. For example ,the response of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs  about the future of the khalifat in answer to Colonel Yate’s  query in the  House of Commons on 5 May 1915, to the effect that  this matter should be « decided by Moslems themselves without interference », was distributed among  Muslims in Mauritius.
In point of fact, Moslems in Mauritius were the main focus of concern by the colonial authorities during the war years. As can be noted in the list of deportees, most of them were Muslims. Other Indian Muslims were deported in February 1916, namely the two exegetes – Hafeez Ibrahim Mall and Molvi Ayatoolah from Rose Hill, which was the epicenter for the Ahmadiya movement.
 Mid 1915 is the official date attributed to the establishment of Ahmadism coinciding with the coming of the first missionary from Qadian, Punjab- the headquarters of the Ahmadiya movement. But prior to his coming a large amount of spade work had been done by Noormamode Nooroya, the head teacher of the  only Indian run primary school. He was also a very influential member of the Muslim community. He was actively supported by Amode.I. Atchia (Major), the manager of the school. The Sunnee Moslems of Rose Hill were not « very intelligent, nor well versed in religious matters » as admitted by Mamode Issackjee (Patel) ,the main plaintiff at the Rose Hill Sunnee mosque case in 1920 and as such were not able to grasp the religious issues involved in  the public disputations (munazara) with the Ahmadis.
Mirza Gulam Ahmad (1835-1908) « a Punjabi visionary » ( Green .N 2003) the founder of the Ahmadism « sect » (Friedman .Y 2003) did not have a madressa education, but was educated at home. His religious coming out in 1882 had a « messianic profile « as he claimed  « at once to be a prophet (nabi) in the lineage of the Prophet (SWL) and a Messiah (masih) in the lineage of Jesus (Issah SWL), whom he claimed was in any case buried in India ( Kashmir). » (Green. N 2014). The copy of a letter from Nooroya to the Governor carried a letterhead with Mirza Gulam Ahmad’s main claims. As a matter of interest, Mamode Issackjee’s first dispute with the Ahmadis was about Hazrat Issah SWL (Jesus) whom according to the Holy Koran’ was lifted ‘to Allah (Sura 3Aya 55, Sura 4 Aya 157,158). Throughout the 1915, the Sunnees were in regular disputes with the Ahmadis as the sect gained new adepts. Most of those who were deported were involved in scuffles with the Ahmadis. This was stealthily acknowledged in a letter to the Radical of 23 October 1915 by Noorooya himself. The deportation of Sunnee Moslems of Port-Louis and Rose-Hill in mid 1916 led to the damping down of the dispute. Instead, the Sunnees under the guidance of Maulana Abdul Rashid Nawab and other learned men set up new pedagogical approaches towards the Islamic education of the community.
Events during the war years were to shape the destinies of the different communities. The spill – over effects of the measures implemented during the war period allow us to  dissect the prevailing  colonial race relations, which still bore the tinge of the Victorian era. The imperial government was ready « to accept a labourbattalion… for employment in Mesopotamia », but for higher grades « the rate of separation allowance  » would apply as « only pure European parentage » could access. (SD 178 20.11.1917) This policy decision  led to the reinforcing of the division of the Mauritian community.
The impact of the war measures were felt most by the colonial subjects of Indian origin. And in the case of Muslims, their position was further complicated by the establishment of Ahmadism, « a most controversial movement » attributing « a messianic  role (to the founder) which impinges upon mainstream conceptions of prophet hood » held by Muslims (Hussain Khan. A 2015), and their relentless efforts to resist the progression of this sect led them to a repositioning. They were quick to realize that the colonial authorities adopted a soft line toward the Ahmadis, specially as mentioned in a letter by Noorooya « British rule is the best government that may be had on earth ». They chose to keep a low profile and waited for the war to end and for the removal of martial law. They set up a network of religious educators to upgrade Islamic knowledge and practices. In fact, they were able to forge an identity of their own. In sum, Mauritian Muslims learnt to live together separately.