Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When sexual crimes against women are seen with a communal angle: Rapes and Religions!

A five-year-old girl was raped and murdered in my City. It was a brutal and highly despicable crime.

But the irony is that the first question asked after the crime is that 'who has done it'?

That was not because of the normal curiosity. It was just to ascertain the religion of the person.

Mercifully, most of the rapes of minors in the last year in this City saw Hindu assailants and Hindu victims.

Had it been a Muslim accused in even a single case, there might have been a retaliatory violence or even a communal riot. What has happened to our sensibilities?

If a Muslim is found indulging in eve teasing it leads to a riot-like situation. Similarly, if a Muslim girl is raped by a Hindu, it leads to communal tension. Unfortunately the magnitude of the crime, the trauma of the victim and the other aspects of crime are forgotten.

What is thought about is just religion. Media has also to be blamed as it is not fair always. Far from being objective, it is plain sensationalist. There have been incidents when a man from majority community committed sexual assault but effort was made to dilute the crime by terming him as 'mentally deranged person'.

The situation has come to such a passe that one has to ironically, expect, that women would suffer only at the hands of their own co-religionists. Isn't it shameful. Why should they face it at all. The debate should be on why there is so much violence against women in the society.

And why there is growing trend of rapes, molestation, burning of women for dowry and acid attacks on them. Can anything be more unfortunate for a society in this age and era?

Defaming Deoband: Media's biased approach towards Muslim institutions

Just a 'reel' of camera that was brought to a photo studio in Deoband sent the electronic media and newspapers crazy. The politicians too followed suit.

They started blaming the Muslim dominated region in Western Uttar Pradesh (UP) as a breeding ground for the militants. The photographs were quite amateurish.

It is quite common for visitors to often get themselves photographed in fancy dresses in Kashmir with gun in hand. Just like in rural Indian fairs, people get photographed sitting on bikes or holding a gun.

Also, why would terrorist want to bring themselves in focus and send the reel to an ordinary studio? But the respected Islamic seminary of Deoband was targeted and defamed.

The newspapers screamed, 'Deoband in terrorist frame'. TV channels were no less aggressive. The next day it was disclosed that the youths were not terrorists. In fact, they were members of Village Defence Committees in Kashmir and the reels were the possession of army.

So this chapter was closed but what about the harm done to the reputation of the Islamic seminary that took lead in freedom struggle? Unfortunately, it is very easy in India to blame Muslims for all sort of fundamentalism and terrorism though not even a single Indian Muslim has been found to be connected to any international terrorist network.

One hopes that media learns to observe certain restraint. There should be cross-checking and verification of facts. There should not be any prejudging or a hurry to get a sensational report. Muslim organisations should also reach out to media and in case of defamatory reports, they must seek apology.  

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Muslim law and courts: Remember Islamic laws under Muslim Personal Law are part of Indian Constitution

A person, Vishwamohan Madan, recently approached the Supreme Court and filed a complaint that the Islamic courts are functioning illegally in this country.

Madan has demanded that these courts ought to be banned. The Apex Court subsequently issued notices to seven states.

Also, it issued notices to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an umbrella body of Muslims, and the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary on this petition.

Social activist and community leader Mohammad Mahir has rightly said that courts are unknowingly getting into such traps.

Firstly, Muslim Personal Law is part of Indian constitution and the community has every right to appoint qazis and muftis for arbitration.

This is a fundamental right and all communities have their own kinds of panchayats and religious leaders to guide. Fatwa is the religious position [an opinion or an interpretation and not a verdict] as expressed by the scholars and does not come in way of civil courts.

Still, the bench of Supreme Court decided to send notices to state governments on this petition. It is unfortunate that the Muslim Personal Law that is an intrinsic part of Indian constitution is almost looked upon as an aberration and the spirit of constitution is violated.

Of course, there can be no question of a parallel judicial system. Our courts are supreme in all matters. 

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tough choice for Muslims of Bihar: Will they vote for Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD once again?

It is again going to be a tough choice for Muslims in Bihar, the state which is home to 25 million Muslims, as it goes to polls.

For the last 15 years Lalu Prasad Yadav has ruled the state as his personal fiefdom. On one hand he allied himself with Muslims, put an end to anti-Muslim riots that had become a regular feature and gave Urdu the status of official language.

Under the RJD rule, the state has been free from sectarian clashes and Muslims have enjoyed an unprecedented era of peace.

In the past, riots in Bihar were the norm every year. The Bhagalpur riots under Congress government had continued for six months and though the official figure of death was 4,000 [majority of the victims were Muslims[, the actual number was far more.

But the last fifteen years have also seen the state plunge into darkness with no development. People are migrating and Muslims households continue to be the poorest. Even the studies have shown the Dalits enjoing better financial status than the Muslims.

Muslims account for 18-19% of population in Bihar. Muslims have the power to tilt scales in favour of any party and are in a majority in Kishanganj. Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party [LJP] is an option but in the last election it had proved a spoiler.

Time for Muslims to bargain hard with Laloo. The Yadavas have for long enjoyed the power which they got with the help of Muslims. The Muslim leaders must stand up and ask Laloo Yadav to not take their support for granted.

Concrete plans for uplifting minorities should be part of manifesto and in return Muslims should throw their full weight behind Laloo and vote in higher numbers. Else, Bihar might as well go to the BJP. Nitish Kumar's JDU and BJP can together upset RJD's calculations. 

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Demand for Shia-stan and division of Iraq

The Shia leaders in South Iraq are now pushing for establishment of autonomous Shiastan. It is a Shia-dominated region and the demand has come from none other than Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim in the holy city of Najaf.

The Shiastan will have oil fields and we are also told that it will be a region rich in natural resources. Iraq is a Shia majority country (60% Shia populace) but was ruled by the minority Sunnis.

After the long-stand demand for the Kurdistan and the recent Shiastan, the worst one can expect is demand for a Sunnistan. However, given the sort of ethnic conflict that has gripped Iraq, after the US-led invasion, it is not a far-fetched theory.

After its Iraqi misadventure that has cost the US dearly, the hawks in Bush administration would also love to divide the country. It is almost impossible in today's circumstances to keep the nation intact, with every group baying for the blood of the other.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Nuclear Iran: Eyesore for USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia as well

The Nuclear programme of Iran is becoming an eyesore for the West.

Both the European Union [EU] and US are trying to mount all possible pressure on Iran to stop it from pursuing the programme.

This is despite the latter's repeated assertion that it is for peaceful purpose.

The double standards of these countries on Israel are, of course, never questioned.

The Jewish state is a known nuclear power and can go ahead with innumerable nuclear tests but invites no sanctions from the United Nations (UN).

It is believed in the Muslim world that any Islamic country that has even a remote chance of acquiring nuclear technology is targeted and hounded.

It is now a established norm to try and destabilise at least one nation in the middle-east at any given point of time. After destroying Iraq, the target is again Iran.

Saudi Arab wary of Iran's influence in the region

And it is really a shame that despite such double standards, the Western intellectuals express surprise at the anger among Muslim masses towards the West. However, there is another aspect. Not just America or Israel, Muslim countries are more concerned at the prospect of a 'Nuclear Iran'.

For them, it will a change in the balance of power in the volatile Middle East. The fact that Iran is a Shia majority nation, hangs high on the minds of the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other small countries. Isn't that quite intriguing?

Clearly, regional interests are more important. The monarchs in the Middle East fear that in case Iran acquires Nuclear power, its influence will grow manifold, and this will also embolden the Shia minorities that are concentrated in certain regions within the Sunni majority countries. 

Monday, August 08, 2005

Anti-Sikh riots and lessons for Muslims: Community, Communal riots & Compensation

Do we feel to raise our issues properly?
The report of the second commission on the anti-Sikh riots* is out and has been tabled in the Parliament.

It is a lesson for the Muslims who constitute 15% of Indian population and have also endured horrific riots but compensation remains a dream for them. 

Far from compensation, umpteen reports on anti-Muslim riots have never seen light of the day. Compensation to the tune of lakhs was received by each victim of Sikh riot in compensation but Muslims in the most gruesome riots never received a penny. 

Except Mumbai riots all other anti-Muslim pogroms saw the reports of the commissions go to dustbins. In fact, there was hardly any commission of inquiry instituted in the most riots that were directed against Muslims. 

The brutal killings of Muslims in Hashimpura and Maliana by PAC, the Bhagalpur, Ferozabad, Muradabad, Meerut, Ahmedabad (1969) and Surat riots saw no inquiries. The lack of interest of the Muslims in taking up the case of riot victims and the shameless apathy of the Muslim MPs have been responsible for the gross violation of the human rights of Muslims.

Muslims were targeted again and again because there was no effective opposition. Neither courts were approached, nor social crusades launched. The leadership was either asleep or busy in individual gains at the cost of community.

The Muslim MPs of the Congress are the worst traitors of the community because they never raised the issues of the Muslims, particularly regarding the riots and carnages. The Sikhs have not been content with one Commission and compensation and then the second commission, they still want more.

That is a slap on the face of the Muslim leadership. Sikhs constitute less than 2% of India's population and except Punjab and to an extent in Delhi and Haryana, the community has no electoral importance but they have got justice for them.

[After Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's death in 1984, mobs had targeted Sikhs across the country. Nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the national capital, Delhi, alone]

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Saudi king Shah Fahd's death: Less sorrow, little affect on Indian Muslims

Indian Muslims uninterested in Saudi affairs
The ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd, passed away on Monday night. He was termed Khadim-ul-Harmain or the Custodian of the Holiest sites of Islam.

No doubt it was under his rule that the oil-rich state made further strides in education, governance, modern infrastructure, some reforms apart from advancements in Science and Technology.

He opened colleges and universities and it was a period of greater prosperity for the nation and his people but overall the prestige of the King among the Muslim masses across the world went down.

Not only it was the Iraq war and the arrival of the US soldiers on the holy land, but the manner in which his country that was looked upon by more than a billion Muslims as their model state, becoming a stooge of US.

No wave of sorrow across Islamic world

No wonder that the death has been received with shock across the world but there is no such wave of sorrow as in the case of leaders like Shah Faisal or even Yasser Arafat or say Hafiz Al Asad. Isn't it a sad moment for the rulers of Arabia?

Ignoring the popular sentiment, they play second fiddle to the US and thus surreptitiously support the Jewish state, thereby sabotaging the cause of Palestine. How right was Urdu poet Abdul Ahad Saaz wrote the famous verse...

'Shyookh apnee atlasi qabayen zebtan kiye..zameen ka tel aakhirat ke daam bech kar jaza kama chuke*. When Arafat died the masses went hysteric in countries as far as Malaya. Youths came out on the streets of cities in India to express their sorrow.

This is despite the fact that Arafat had failed to redeem himself after the Oslo accord. The fact that Muslim world has leaders who do not have any following among people, speaks of the widening gulf between the stooges of the US and the masses in most of the Muslim countries.

Indian Muslims are no longer attached to Saudi kingdom. They don't feel the emotional attachment with the ruling class at all. Of course, there is love and attachment for the country that has the holiest sites of Islam, but no longer a blind following for the monarchs.