Jama Masjid Imam speaks on Anna Hazare
Contending that communalism was a bigger threat to India than corruption, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, on Monday asked Anna Hazare why he and his campaign managers did not do more to involve Muslims in their anti-graft movement.
At a time when Hazare's campaign has caught the imagination of the country, Bukhari said the Gandhian needed to learn more from the Mahatma on how to bring all sections of the society together in a mass movement.
Bukhari said while he very much believed that corruption needed to be weeded out of the country, it was equally important to tackle communalism by addressing the problems of Muslims.
Image: Syed Ahmed Bukhari
'Why not raise more inclusive slogans?'
"He could at least have met some members or leaders of the minority community and offered to rub a balm on our wounds. He could have also made references against communalism as part of his campaign to make it look more inclusive," Bukhari told PTI, recalling how some days earlier Hazare had praised Narendra Modi.
The Imam also pointed out that slogans of Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai, that were a staple of Anna's campaign, did not make Muslims comfortable.
"Why not raise more inclusive slogans like Hindustan Zindabad or Jai Hind," he asked, complaining that there was no effort on the part of the campaign leaders to involve the community into their fold.
Image: A rally against corruption
'He did not fast for a day when Muslims were killed'
"When Gandhi took up a cause, he made sure he included in it grievances of every Indian constituency, only then did his campaigns take up the shape of unassailable national movements," he said.
Bukhari said Gandhi took everyone along but Hazare, whom many regard as the modern day Gandhi, has never taken up any issue of concern to the Muslim community.
"He did not fast for a day when Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002. We never heard from him when anti-Muslim riots happened in his home state's capital Mumbai. He could at least have made an effort to involve the community. We are hurt by this," said Bukhari.
Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
'Take up more than one national issue'
Asked about his view that Muslims should not take part in Hazare's anti-corruption movement, he said he had merely expressed his view and he could not stop Muslims who were still participating in the campaign.
Bukhari said corruption will not end in a day or just by signing a bill. It was the society that needed to be changed and therefore it was very important to take up more than one issue of national importance in any such national campaign, he said.
Image: Anna Hazare