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MY India to counter SIMI
Vijay Singh in Mumbai |
September 30, 2003 15:52 IST
Last Updated: September 30, 2003 16:26 IST
Poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy affect the fortunes of every person, irrespective of religion. It is for every individual to demand good education, a job, civic amenities and his rights as a citizen of the country.
This is what MY India (Muslim Youth of India) is going to tell youngsters of the community.
The organisation is the brainchild of a former president of the Students Islamic Movement of India, Sayeed Khan, and his friends, Feroze Mithiborwala, Ashraf Mulani and Mauzam.
MY India aims to bring Muslim youth into the mainstream by making them aware of their rights and contribution to nation-building.
The four say Muslims have begun feeling insecure after the Gujarat riots and the subsequent bomb blasts in Mumbai, which have been described as an after-effect of the riots. This is helping anti-social elements misguide them.
"Muslims are made to feel insecure everywhere -- in jobs, in government facilities. MY India aims to encourage them to demand their rights," says Khan, who left SIMI in 1992 to concentrate on social work and wields considerable influence in the community.
Khan says there is no difference between Hindus and Muslims in terms of education. "But where are Muslims in terms of jobs? We want to educate members of our community, train them to fight for jobs and justice. This is the only way to bring poor Muslims into the mainstream."
The founders of MY India have no faith in political parties as they "always exploit religion for their gains". The Maharashtra government, for instance, has been lax in punishing those responsible for atrocities during the 1992 communal riots, in which even a former police commissioner was involved, but is demanding Chief Minister Narendra Modi's resignation for the riots in Gujarat, they point out.
Such developments make Muslims feel insecure, and people denied justice can easily be misguided by anti-social elements.
Ashraf Mulani says it is necessary for these people to realise that they are an important part of the nation.
"MY India is against all types of extremism," says Firoz Mithiborwala. "We consider ourselves a modern and democratic group, which will communicate with people on the basis of facts, not blind faith. We are working among intellectuals as well as the working class.
"MY India will never discard the fundamental values of Islam, but there is scope for modernisation in Islam.
"Sayeed took a risk by talking about how SIMI deviated from its original aims and was being led towards extremism. We don't want the entire community to suffer because of one organisation. Now people have begun supporting MY India.
"No Muslim ideological group is aware of the ground realities. We are trying to bring all the oppressed sections of the nation together, because the agenda of oppressed sections all over the world is one."
MY India wants Muslims to solve common problems by joining hands with others as it will bring people closer and improve communal harmony.
"After the recent bomb blasts in Mumbai, we led a huge peace rally to protest against the act and pray for the families of the victims. People appreciated the gesture," Khan says.
"We are trying to bring the youth into the mainstream, but are facing difficulties because of people like [Vishwa Hindu Parishad secretary general] Pravin Togadia, who make Muslims feel insecure with their utterances.
"The nation's leaders must understand that it's not possible to rule by subduing people by force. It is necessary to win them over."