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'It is dangerous to blame a community for terrorism'
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | August 18, 2006 16:02 IST
Leaders of India's Muslim community will make a presentation to top intelligence officers, officials of the home ministry and powerful political leaders, including the prime minister, in New Delhi at a two-day conference on August 20-21.
The conference, titled 'Terrorism - Its causes and remedy', will be held over four sessions with the view to clear a few facts about the minority community's pride in Indian history and their view on global terrorism.
The conference will be held in Parliament's premises on the first day and in the annexe building the next day.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh and other ministers will also be present when 22 of the country's most influential ulemas (clergy), maulvis (preachers) and Islamic scholars vent their grievances about the lack of understanding among the police and media and in general about threats posed by terrorism and misconceptions about Indian Muslims' involvement in the current crisis.
The scholars include chiefs of the Deoband sect and the Barelvi sect, maulanas from the Jamiat Ulema, the chief of the All India Mili Council and the chief of the Jamiat-e-ahle-Hadis.
The organisers say it's a strictly non-political event and will help introspection on the issue.
According to the organisers, senior officers of the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing will also attend the closed-door sessions.
This is the first time that Muslim scholars at the highest level have come forward to share their views with state agencies on how to tackle terrorism and how the minority community can help the police and intelligence forces.
The Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind's Mahmood A Madani and Kamal Farooqui, member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, were the main coordinators of the event.
Farooqui told rediff.com, "We are deeply concerned by the negative image of Islam and Muslims projected in relation to terrorism. We attach the highest priority to the progress of our country and for its elevation to the rank of developed countries by 2020. All communities must join hands in peace and creating mutual trust."
"Terrorism is one of the main impediments in achieving our goals. It is the need of the hour that we become alive to our responsibilities. We should place Islam, Muslims and madrassas in the correct perspective."
The conference wants to spread the factual position of Indian Muslims, says Farooqui.
"The Muslim community is keen to remind all that the ulemas of India have a very fine history behind them. No one disputes that we played a very important role in the Indian freedom struggle. Unlike before, we do feel the menace of terrorism is spreading in India too. And we want to say that every Indian should be very concerned about it," he said.
He says the problem lies in "ill-advised reporting in the Indian media."
"We are feeling the heat. Everybody started feeling that Muslims are responsible for it. After Mumbai bomb blasts no one reported how Muslims too came out on the streets to help the victims. We feel it is a very dangerous trend to blame an entire community for terrorism," he added.
Farooqui strongly urges Indians to note that "if this perception of the Muslim community continues then after ten years the situation will become irreparable. We are very, very concerned."
"We want the ulemas to fight this perception. We want to denounce all kinds of terrorism and particularly against Indians. Islam doesn't allow this at all," he said.
How to fight terrorism by taking teh help of the ulema will be one of the focus areas of this conference, Farooqui said.
He explained, "Our message to the prime minister is that the way law enforcing agencies are behaving against the community is not fair. We have already given details. They are mindlessly arresting 500-600 Muslims and releasing them after two-three days of torture. We have no objection to proper investigations. Muslims feel they are being pushed to the wall. In Bihar, the police arrested people and released them after two days after taking bribes of Rs 5,000. This is no way to fight terrorism. You just can not treat 22 crore Muslims like this. We are thinking of a situation after ten years. India will not be able to fight terrorism after ten years if these unfair practices go on."
Madani, who is in forefront of teh recent public debates on Hindu-Muslim relations, told rediff.com, "We want the ulema and people who run madrassas to unite and counter terrorism. This conference will deliberate on how to do it."
"We have also fought for this country's freedom. We don't want a few terrorists to kidnap our agenda for our country," he said.
Farooqui adds, "Muslims want a clear message to the law-enforcing agencies from the prime minister that we have to fight terrorism but with human touch. Terrorism is a national problem and the moment we earmark it to particular community we are trapped."