Skip to main content

London School of Economics students protest "casual Islamophobia" of Sadhguru

Counterview Desk
In a fresh round of controversy involving Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization which offers yoga programs around the world and claims to be involved in social outreach, education and environmental initiatives, has referred to a Muslim student at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) as “a Talibani” and “Taliban”.
Earlier Sadhguru invited criticism from the well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), for his Rally of Rivers campaign, allegedly meant to support of the establishment, and playing in the hands of India's corporate interests. In 2017, NBA accused Sadhguru of gathering “millions of rupees from many corporate and many media houses” for his campaign.
NBA said, Sadhguru, “who has taken up to saving the rivers by spending millions of crores of rupees himself is accused of violation of many environmental laws in Tamil Nadu”, including “encroachment on the Kundakoi tributary of the river Noyal, construction of ashram with nearly one thousand buildings on the reserved forest, encroachment on the elephants corridors”, etc.
LSE Students Union (SU), responding to Sadhguru’s “Talibani” comment following the “Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru” event has sharply reacted to the mystic, saying, his words do offend, even though a clarification was issued later on.

Text of LSESU statement:

There have been reports that, subsequent to the event ‘Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru at LSESU, Sadhguru (Jaggi Vasudev) called a Muslim student at the LSE “a Talibani” and “Taliban”. The LSESU is deeply disappointed in Sadhguru’s comments and views them as Islamophobic. The LSESU confirms that such comments do not have a place on campus and are to be condemned. If the comments were made in jest, this does not lessen their impact – the words still offend. Such incidents, if not duly denounced, aggregate to create a culture where casual Islamophobia becomes acceptable and, as such, we implore Sadhguru to release a formal apology to the student body with regards to the statements made.
Sadhguru’s team was contacted for comment and gave the following response:
“Namaskaram,
This is addressed to all those concerned, Bilal Bin Saqib – the London School of Economics student with whom I had interactions, and two students who were with us as part of Youth and Truth. Bilal is a wonderful young man, having aspirations to make an impact in the world, particularly in his country. The last thing I have is any ill-will or intention to abuse or insult him. It did not come out this way at any point in the conversation. It is not in my heart to insult anybody, especially not this wonderful young man with so many aspirations and intentions for the world.
This small video clip of a private conversation, which has been mischievously edited, is unfortunate. I would like to tell all those concerned that the word ‘Taliban’ in Arabic means an ‘ardent student’, which Bilal definitely is, as also the other two students are. This term is always used in India in relation to someone who is over enthusiastic. It is in that context that I was joking with Bilal, it is very unfortunate that it has been projected this way.
If this has in anyway offended or insulted anybody, this was not the intent. This private conversation was mischievously edited, with what intent, I am unable to fathom. I wish to anyway apologize to the London School of Economics and the Students Union, if it offended any of you in some way. My gratitude to the London School of Economics and the Students Union for having organised this event.
Thank you very much." 
LSESU stands firmly on our above stance and deem the comments to be Islamophobic. We do not believe the video was "mischievously edited” and have heard no reports supporting the common use of ‘Taliban’ in India as meaning over-enthusiastic.
We believe that individuals who have many followers, hold power and status, and claim to promote tolerance, should be aware of and sensitive, to the political and extremist connotations attached to the word ‘Taliban’ in our current context. Casual Islamophobia such as this perpetuates the culture of misunderstanding and judgement. This is especially relevant given recent spates of terror against Muslims in Britain, New Zealand and around the world.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

Govt of India 'has no plan' to reduce energy, fossil fuel consumption, emissions

Counterview Desk
In his representation to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India on draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP), 2019, top power policy analyst Shankar Sharma has insisted that there is imminent need to consider the economic activities at the national/international level very carefully from the perspective of climate change.

Here's proof: Manual scavenging is rampant, Ahmedabad isn't open defecation free

By Parsottam Vaghela*
Authorities of Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat, may have gone into full swing in its cleanliness drive under the Swachh Bharat mission after the city was awarded the open defecation free plus (ODF+) certificate by the Union government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. However, my visit to some of the areas of the walled city of Ahmedabad on August 7 in order to ascertain whether it has become open defecation free suggested that the claim is a total humbug.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.