"We neither believe that Vande Mataram is a test case of someone’s patriotism. Nor, do we agree with the Jamiat interpretation that reciting the song would endanger one’s faith," the group said in a statement.

A group of concerned Muslim public personalities, leaders and intellectuals has come out strongly against the recent move of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (M group) to revive the controversy over the singing of Vande Mataram. They also condemned the attempts of the ‘Hindu right wing forces’ to impose its recitation as a test of one’s sense of patriotism. Pointing out that the debate on the issue had been settled way back in 1930s — with the consent of the then leadership of the Jamiat — that controversial portions of the song would not be sung, the group said the attempt to revive the controversy was unnecessary. “We neither believe that Vande Mataram is a test case of someone’s patriotism. Nor, do we agree with the Jamiat interpretation that reciting the song would endanger one’s faith,” the group said in a statement. Among the hundreds of signatories to the statement are lyricist Javed Akhtar, film actor and director Naseeruddin Shah, film director Saeed Akhthar Mirza, actor Shabana Azmi and social activist Shabnam Hashmi. They also questioned the Jamiat’s demand that Shariat norms should be observed for Muslim girl students after they reached the age of 10. “It is a retrogressive move not only to isolate girls from the mainstream of national education, but also to keep them confined in a secluded sectarian atmosphere. It is shocking to demand Shariat norms in education for girls or for any segment of society in a secular State.” Likewise, they took strong exception to Jamiat’s advice to Muslim students not to join government or non-government schools on the ground that in such institutions they get isolated and sometime not get to know Islamic values. Calling this an indirect attempt to keep Muslim students away from mainstream education, the leaders said, “[this] is exactly what Hindutva forces want. It will not only keep the community backward”, they said.

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