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Clamour to ban Zakir Naik’s Peace TV flows from the fact that he can’t be fought intellectually

By Adv Masood Peshiman*
Bangladesh politics is embroiled in the deadly tussle between the two ladies, the Prime Minister Hasina Wajid and Khalida Zia, the opposition leader. In the teeth of the brewing crisis the Prime Minister Hasina Wajid is pushing up the incessant agenda of stifling the opposition, including the Islamists which has given rise to the volatile atmosphere in the neighbouring country. In that volatile situation there are escalating attacks on bloggers, Hindus and non-Muslim minorities.
There is no restraint to curb the terrorising of the non-Muslim minorities, and the Hasina Wajid government is accountable for the rise in the deadly attack on non-Muslim minorities in the neighbouring country.
Any country is judged by its track record of its treatment of the minorities. In our own country, India, minorities are not safe, particularly Muslims, who were quite vulnerable during the communal violence. Now, communal violence is replaced with the false terror cases on Muslim youth, who having spent a lot of time in jail are exonerated or let off.
It is against the backdrop of non-Muslims minorities facing the heat there was the gruesome violent attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulashan area claiming at least 20 lives, thus exposing the weakness at the Hasina government. In the gruesome attack an Indian, Tarishi Jain, was killed along with her Muslim friend who risking his life tried to save her. The Muslim friend would have escaped the murderous attack but he preferred to die to save his friend.
However, this incident escaped the required share of attention. What occupied the centrestage in the entire murky scenario is the report in a Bangladesh newspaper that one of the slain terrorists was the fan of Islamic scholar Zakir Naik.
Once the name of Zakir Naik cropped up there were swift references to the role of Zakir Naik who has denied such allegations and strongly denounced the terror outfit like Islamic State. It is not the question of Zakir Naik, Asaaduddin Awaisi denouncing or condemning terror activities of Islamic State, which is out of frustration or sheer depression over the turmoil in the Middle-East created by the intriguing machinations of superpowers. It is the attack of Muslim nations from Saudi Arabia to Turkey that the Islamic State has unleashed the unending cycle of violence against the Muslim nations.
The Muslim world is bearing the brunt of its hostile opposition to the IS which has completely isolated the IS. The frustration of the IS has gone to such an extent that there was an attack by a suicide bomber in Madina where the body of Prophet Mohammad lies buried. The bomber and the security guards were killed and the worst tragedy was averted. The world, instead of appreciating the role played by the Muslim world, is rather undermining its efforts in fighting terror; it is a myopic approach to oppose terror.
Now the same psyche has worked in our country where a section of the media under the saffron influence actively supporting the hidden, and now open, agenda of the Sangh Parivar, which has left no stone unturned in pouncing upon Zakir Naik for his alleged share in the Dhaka attack by quoting him out of context. The media, serving the saffron agenda, lost no time in conducting media trial, thus sitting on judgement setting afloat all sorts of cock and bull stories when the investigation is under progress and no proof so far found of his alleged involvement in the terror episode.
The prejudicial section of the media is already known to have stepped up its vilification campaign against the alleged terrorists who having spent a larger chunk of time in the jail are later acquitted or exonerated for lack of evidence. Fanatic- and bigotry-inspired media has ignored this.
What is no less significant is to note that the problem of false terror cases is further complicated with the confessional statements given by the accused which are admissible as evidence in laws like POTA and TADA. The situation is easily messed up when such statements of the accused under the shadow of fear and coercion, extracted by investigative agencies, can be directed against any person and can be misused even against the accused.
An eminent Urdu journalist Sarfraz Arrzoo has drawn attention to the anomalous situation in the meeting of the Innocence Network at Marathi Partrakar Sangh in Mumbai working for the cause of innocent Muslims in false terror cases and biased investigation supported by the myopic section of the media.
In the meeting the question was raised as the why inquiry was not initiated against Rajnath Singh for his photo with the alleged terrorist Sadhvi Pragya.
The late Hemant Karkare was on the point of achieving the breakthrough in the investigation to lay his hand over a big fish, and he was bumped off before he could finish his job.
The meeting working for the cause of innocent Muslims in false terror cases was graced by the justice Kolse Patil, MLC Kapil Patil, Ram Punyani, Adv. Mahrukh Adenwala, Adv. Nandita Haskar, Adv. Wahab Khan, Adv. Sharif, Abu Asim Azmi and others.
Another worrisome development concerning Zakir Naik is the internal conflict of faith in the Muslim community. Those not reconciling with the faith and ideology of Zakir Naik are exploring all angles in attacking him. Zakir Naik is an authority over Islam after Ahmad Dedat, and he is equally apt at quoting other scriptures in his essay on the study of the comparative religions and drawing the similarities. How can the person be an extremist, who is endorsing similarities with comparative study of religions?
There are others in Muslims who are opposed to him due to his high quality of knowledge and scholarship. Their disproportionate focus is on some of his views. It is not necessary that others are expected to share his views. Opposition to views is one thing but supporting acts of injustice is entirely a different matter. The persistent clamour to ban his Peace TV flows from the fact that he can’t be fought intellectually.
The present turbulence of Naik is further added with the vociferous protest raised by those living in glass houses. The toxic political class allegedly involved in the demolition of Babri Masjid, genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, participation in the worst ever communal violence and indulging in all sorts of inflammatory utterances are vociferous in talking of extremism and radicalisation. Strange enough, those indicted by Shri Krishna Commission are talking of Zakir Naik promoting prejudice and hatred.  Such paradox is explained in terms of might is right.
While setting afloat terror stories of demolition of Babri Masjid, genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, lynching of Mohammad Akhlaque in Dadri, and the persecution of Muslims in a series of communal riots are cited as reasons provoking Muslims and inciting terror. Why such incidents are repeated on a priority basis? Are these incidents quoted for inciting terror to earn the sympathy for those who have committed such crimes? Are the incidents like the demolition of Babri Masjid or lynching of Akhlaque in Dadri quoted causing provocation to reduce the magnitude or quantum of crime?
There cannot be any unfettered freedom for violence whether by Muslims or someone else.
The Urdu press has lamented the double standards of justice in the country. The “Urdu Times” in its editorial has questioned the stoic silence of the authorities over virulent anti-Muslim vituperation of the people like Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Prachi, Pravin Togadia and others. The double standards do not prevail not only concerning Muslims and others in the country but between Indian Muslims and Muslim Nations.
The communal forces targeting Indian Muslims have no compunction in politically seducing and flirting with Muslim nations. Prime Minister Narendrda Modi who refused to wear skull cap offered by Muslims had no compunction in visiting Dubai’s Mosque and quoting Galib in Persian in Iran. A strange paradox.
People are not interested in petty communal issues. They are interested in their daily bread and butter problems. They want the political class to resolve their woes. How they are facing the hardship can well be explained by the fact that in Satara District the water crisis is to the extent that people have to fetch water from a distance of 8 miles. There is even the scarcity of the drinking water.
One Omkar Sawant arranged the supply of the drinking water on his own. With the supply of water the attendance in schools rose from skeleton to 100%. The supply of drinking water was cause enough to raise the appreciable attendance. The admirable work done by Omkar Sawant should have been done by the political class. However, the political class in the country is quite detached from people’s woes. It is only interested in fomenting communal divide benefiting the corporate culture. The fascism in the country is only to promote the interest of corporate culture which people fail to understand blinded by intense hatred and hostility.
The Prime Minister while discussing the benefits of economic progress said that preachers of hate and violence are threats to society. Modi’s words of advice define the solution to present chaos and disturbance in society and can play a meaningful role in defusing the volatile situation in the country.
The political class in our country has given disproportionate attention to the preaching of hate and violence with the Zakir Naik episode, without introspecting its own role in fomenting the same. Herein one is reminded of Bollywood actor Raj Kumar’s words in the vociferous loud and impacting voice that those living in glass houses are not to throw stone on others.
He said in the film ‘jin ke ghar shishe ke hote hain unhe phattar nahi phekhna chaiyye’.
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Contact: peshimammasood@gmail.com

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