Combating Islamophobia

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

Today,15th March, is International Day for Combating Islamophobia ( hatred of Muslims ), declared by the United Nations.

I am totally opposed to Islamophobia or hatred of any religion and would like those who incite and spread religious hatred to be severely punished. Though an atheist, I am a strong supporter of religious freedom.

Some people brand all Muslims as fanatics, terrorists, jihadists and anti-nationals. This propaganda is fallacious, and the work of some politicians having their own agenda. Every Muslim I know is a peace loving person, and almost all are decent and upright. True there are a few Muslims who do wrong things and some resort to violence, but that is so among all communities.

However, in my opinion, Islamophobia cannot be effectively combated by mere declarations. That can be done by Muslims themselves doing introspection and demanding reformations, particularly these :

1. Abolition of sharia

2. Abolition of burqa

3. Abolition of madarsas

4. Suppression of religious clerics ( maulanas )

Many Muslims will say I am demanding abolition of Islam, but that is not correct. I am not demanding banning the core of Islam, that is, going to masjids, offering namaz, going on Haj, observing roza during Ramzan, celebrating Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Zuha, or taking out Muharram processions. I will strongly oppose those who demand such abolition.

What I demand, and would like all Muslims to demand, are things which are keeping Muslims backward, and which were abolished/suppressed by the great Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s.

As long as the Sultans and Khalifas ruled inTurkey, the country was poor, feudal and backward, and was kicked around by Western powers like England and France, and was called 'The Sick Man of Europe'. Mustafa Kemal and his associates realised that their country's sorry plight was due its backwardness, and determined to rapidly modernise it, which they did after ousting the Sultan and the Khalifa.

A similar thing should be done by Muslims of India and other countries. My reasons are contained in these articles, and hence I am not repeating them :

Some people say that Muslim women should be given option to wear burqa or not, but I disagree. Burqa is a feudal, backward practice, and must be suppressed by imposing heavy fines on women wearing it, as in France and some other countries. Too much freedom is also bad

Maulanas are malignant excrescences on Muslim society, who keep Muslims backward, and therefore must be suppressed, as was done by Mustafa Kemal in Turkey.

Laws reflect social conditions in a society at a particular stage of its historical development, and hence when society changes the law too must change. How can Sharia, a law made 1400 years ago, be applied in the 21st century, when society has totally changed in these 1400 years ? Can we have Manusmriti today ? Is stoning a woman to death for adultery, or cutting off a thief's limbs, or nikah halaala, acceptable in the modern world ? It is regarded savagery today.

I am a strong supporter of a Uniform Civil Code

I submit that if Muslims want end of Islamophobia they must realise and oppose the feudal, backward practices among themselves and abolish them. Mere declarations against Islamophobia are empty prattle, claptrap, palaver, bombast, hot air, and twaddle.

(Justice Katju is a former Judge, of the Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, the Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

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