KARNATAKA

Islam is a religion of peace, says Banatwala

Bageshree S.

Bangalore: Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) national president G.M. Banatwala has said that the Glasgow airport attack should not be “blown out of proportion to create a sensational piece of news”.

Speaking to the press on the sidelights of the IUML convention in Bangalore on Saturday, he said, “Let us remember that two people have been detained and investigations are on. No charges have been made so far. It is premature to say anything. Even if the two are guilty, let us underline the fact that they are two out of the 15 lakh to 20 lakh Muslims in the country. What is more, they were in Britain and not on Indian soil.”

Criticising the tendency to ascribe “every act of terrorism to Islam”, he said it was a religion of peace and harmony.

“Breach of peace and law and order should be dealt with strictly. But we should also debate the circumstances that have brought the situation to such a head,” he said, referring to the manner in which the crisis in West Asia had been handled by the U.S. and Britain.

Shared outrage

Outrage about a religious community being held responsible for the work of a few “misguided people” is shared by many from varying backgrounds.

Said Sheema Mohsein, secretary of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity, “When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, it was attributed to the LTTE and not to the religion to which the suicide bomber belonged. Terrorism knows no religion.”

Fear, suspicion

The worst part, Ms. Mohsein pointed out, was the fear psychosis and suspicion the incident had created within and outside the community, pushing the more crucial socio-economic issues to the background.

The youth of the community should find the right platform to articulate their discontent and help counter the propaganda against their religion, Ms. Mohsein suggested.

K.M. Sharief, president of the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, said any act of terrorism, irrespective of the religion of the perpetrator, was condemnable.

“It is too soon to draw conclusions. But all the speculations being made by the media and the public, implicating the whole community, is very hurting,” he said. “It also hurts one’s pride as an Indian and a Kannadiga.”

Well-known Kannada writer and advocate Banu Mushtaq called the incident shocking, considering the background of the two held for questioning.

“Nothing has so far been established, but just by being touched by the arm of law, they have pushed the entire community into the circle of suspicion. That is the only thing people ask wherever a Muslim goes,” she said.

How incidents like this would adversely affect the educational and job opportunities of millions of Muslim children was even more disturbing, she added.

“Everything is a question before me, and I know no answers. How to bring up children? How and where to send them out? Where is the Muslim leadership that should be guiding the community at this moment of crisis, confusion and helplessness? Who are the people drawing young and intelligent minds into acts like this,” she asked.

Gnawing question

But the most gnawing question for the writer known for her secular, feminist stances is, “How does a Muslim who believes in secular ideology survive a situation such as this?”

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