Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut last week demanded that Muslims in the country be disenfranchised. While writing in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Samna, he said, "In elections, some want a Muslim candidate, while others don't. Muslims will not be on the path of development if their numerical strength continues to be misused by political parties. Muslims have no future in this country if there is going to be petty politics over their voting power ... Balasaheb Thackeray had made a demand that Muslims should be stripped of their voting right. This is an appropriate demand ... The mask of secularists will come off if Muslims are disenfranchised".
It is needless to say that this was the worst comment even by extremist Hindutva organizations’ standard. Urdu newspapers are full of condemnation of the Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s demand for disenfranchising the Indian Muslim community.
A Rashtriya Sahara report while quoting community leader Meem Afzal says, “Sanjay Raut has clearly violated the Indian constitution and he should be immediately thrown out of the Parliament and his Parliament membership be forfeited. The Constitution has given fundamental right of voting to every citizen of the country including the 20 crore Muslims of India and by such demands he has broken his promise that he made while taking the oath as a Member of Parliament”.
On the other hand, the man who was targeted by Sanjay Raut in his lengthy Samna article too hit out at him in no-hold-barred manner. A report in Daily Etemaad, a Hyderabad based Urdu daily quoted MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, “No one can disenfranchise Muslims in the country. Election Commission should take note of the diatribe. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also take a tough stand against an MP belonging to his alliance partner Shiv Sena”.
“I am pretty sure that no action will be taken against him. While there is one single constitution for all the people, but action is selective. Both the parties are unanimous in coming out with reservation for Marathas in the state, but they have refused to allow implementation of Muslim reservation that was initiated by the last government in the state”, the report went on to add.
Is Boko Haram an effort to malign Islam?
Some 276 female students were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists almost a year ago from the Nigerian city of Chek. Despite some recent success by Nigerian and Chadian security forces against the ragtag army of Boko Haram extremists and a new president at the saddle, there is no trace of the girls.
A few of them who escaped their tormentors by jumping out of their vehicles and hiding for several days in nearby bushes still admit that they are unable to enjoy a good night’s sleep as the fear of a lurching terrorist continues to haunt them.
The young girls, many of them just thirteen or fourteen year old, continue in the captivity of the terrorists despite at least three nation’s armies hounding the Boko Haram fighters. The Nigerian army, despite being the largest in Africa, remains understaffed and unarmed. They are definitely no match either in arms or in spirit compared to their challengers in the form of Boki Haram who amazingly continue to get the best of arms and even night-vision equipments. The steady streams of Toyota pickup trucks and lethal arms that reach them so easily have put a question mark over their source of funding and arms.
Dr Syed Mubeen Zahra, a female historian and writer while writing in Urdu daily Inquilab wonders why the world doesn’t seem to be concerned about the 276 girls who remain under Boko Haram captivity for more than a year.
“How painful is the fact that no one seems to be concerned about the girls who were snatched away from their parents, relatives and friends a year ago. The powers who have every resource at their disposal and who seem to be able to watch even smallest things in deserts in Yemen and Tribal areas in Pakistan and attack them, are unable to find the kids. Is there some sort of political compulsion behind their inability, “ she asks.
“The girls who must be suffering in the captivity of the abductors should have our support and we must feel for them. Whatever a few girls who somehow got away from their abductors have told the world about the people behind their abduction makes it amply clear that Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam. No religion, let alone Islam, can condone the sort of barbarity that these terrorists are inflicting on such young girls. It can be an effort to malign the name of Islam. The prolonged detention of these girls is a blot on the face of humanity and the whole world should be ashamed of itself”, she goes on to add.
While demanding the world powers to inflict toughest punishment to Boko haram terrorists, she says, “Not just Boko Haram, every such organization with similar thinking must be condemned. What Islamic State has done in Iraq, Syria and Yemen is nothing different from what Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria. Yazidis faced similar or far worse fate at the hands of Islamic State terrorists in Iraq. All of them must be condemned in toughest words, apprehended and punished. They must be made an example of sorts for even our posterity”.
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Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including
Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.