'Anna's movement backed by communal forces'
Sahim Salim spoke to Muslims in the national capital to get a sense of what they think about Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign.
When the Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, slammed the 'Anna' Hazare-led anti-corruption movement for the use of slogans like 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', many Muslim organisations distanced themselves from the cleric, some outright criticising him.
Organisations like the Ulema Council, Jamat-e-Islami Hind and All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board criticised Bukhari and extended their support to Hazare's movement.
While several Muslim intellectuals have remained silent on the issue, what do ordinary Muslims think?
Rediff.com visited several Muslim-dominated areas in the national capital to understand what Muslims think about Hazare's movement.
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Image: Muslims at Delhi's Jama Masjid
'Anna's dictatorial attitude not good for democracy'
Though many Muslims do not back Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare, citing reasons varying from his alleged "communal" supporters and what they call his "dictatorial attitude", they said they did not have any problems with slogans like 'Vande Mataram' or 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' raised at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, like Imam Bukhari did.
Syed Hasan Kazim, a resident of Jamia Nagar, says he does not back Bukhari's views, but feels Hazare's campaign has the backing of 'communal forces.'
"I heard the champion of communal forces, L K Advani, asking the PM to resign. Where was Advani when the whole state of Gujarat was burning? He never asked his comrade-in-arms (Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra) Modi to resign?"
"I agree there have been a series of scams and cases of corruption (during the Manmohan Singh government's tenure)," says Kazim, "but scams have taken place during the BJP government too. Why has Anna and his team not referred to this? Why only (concentrate on) the corruption of the Congress?"
"Why is Anna not able to gather guts to condemn the BJP's corruption during its rule?" asks Kazim.
He also has a problem with what he terms Hazare's "dictatorial attitude."
"If Anna says that anyone who is against his views should be sent to a mental asylum, then I am ready to go. Such a dictatorial attitude is not a good sign for democracy," adds Kazim, who works with a non government organisation.
Image: Anna Hazare during his indefinite fast to press for a stronger Lokpal Bill at the Ramlila Maidan
'Imam Bukhari is known for making communal statements'
A resident of Old Delhi, Aslam Parvez, supports Hazare and slams Bukhari for his comments.
Parvez, a second year student of Hindu College, has been present at Hazare's campaign from the very beginning.
"What Annaji is doing is commendable. Imam Bukhari has been known to make such statements, which I think are communal in nature. Why is there a problem with raising slogans like 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram'? Annaji's team is not forcing us to. I say it because I don't think there is any problem in saying so," says Parvez.
To show his solidarity with Hazare, Parvez, who has been fasting in the month of Ramzan, only eats one meal a day -- during Iftar.
"We can have dinner and an early morning snack, but I don't have these. I only take food during Iftar," he adds.
Bukhari, Parvez says, enjoys support in Old Delhi -- Chandni Chowk and areas near the Jama Masjid -- "but I am yet to meet a person who endorses Bukhari's views on Hazare."
Image: Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari of Delhi's Jama Masjid
'How can I back a stir which is backed by people who butchered so many Muslims?'
Danish Khan Sherwani, a resident of Zakir Nagar, supports neither Imam Bukhari nor Anna Hazare.
"I don't have a problem with Anna Hazare as a person. But I think his movement is backed by communal forces like the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)."
"How can I support a movement which has the backing of forces responsible for the butchering of so many Muslims in India?" asks Sherwani, a casual labourer, adding, "I feel Imam Bukhari's statements were highly uncalled for."
Image: A child holds a portrait of Anna Hazare at the Ramlila Maidan
'Some of Anna's demands are outright blackmail'
Faizan Alam, a businessman from the upmarket Abu Fazal area, says he does not support Anna Hazare's movement because of his dictatorial attitude.
"A people's movement or a democratic movement should give people the option hether to join it or not. Anna Hazare, on the contrary, says if you join me, you are against corruption and if you don't, you endorse it (corruption). I beg to differ."
"I think Anna's dictatorial attitude is not healthy for a democratic society," adds Alam. "Some of his demands -- only passing his version of the bill -- are outright blackmail. His attitude of only 'my bill is right' and it needs to be passed, against all laid-down democratic procedure, is totally bizarre."
Image: Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare