The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Division in Muslim ranks

New Delhi, March 5: The Islamic Council of India, claiming to represent the moderate voice of Indian Muslims, has issued a statement saying the majority of ordinary Muslims have no objection to the construction of a Ram temple on the “undisputed” site in Ayodhya.

But the council wants the courts to settle the issue of the “disputed” area.

The council claims to have branches in many states. Those who signed the press release were Maulana Ghulam Abdul Qadir Alvi, representing the Islamic Council of Uttar Pradesh, Maulana Fazle Haque Qadri of the Islamic Council of Rajasthan, Maulana Osman Ghani of the Islamic Council of Gujarat, Kazi Abdul Hassan Qadri, again from Uttar Pradesh, and Zahid Raza Qadri from the Uttaranchal Islamic Council.

Despite the long list and the big titles, the organisation is little known in the country and its opinion may not carry much weight among Muslims.

Syed Shahabuddin, MP and convener of the All-India Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee, dismissed the council as a group that represented just itself. “They certainly do not reflect the opinion of the Muslim community. It is not very difficult in a country like ours to get a group of people to sign such statements. Maybe, they received money for this, maybe they are only looking for patronage from the government, I don’t know, but they certainly cannot claim to speak on behalf of the Muslims,” he said.

The Babri Masjid Action Committee does not recognise any distinction between the disputed and undisputed site, Shahabuddin said. “This distinction is false. The 1994 court order speaks of the disputed area and adjoining areas.”

There are only three organisations that reflect Muslim sentiments on the Ayodhya issue, Shahabuddin added. These are the All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee.

However, Salamatullah, a former chairman of the Central Haj Committee, echoed the Islamic council’s words. “… Some misconceived notions seem to be responsible for the very unfounded common belief of the people in general that the Muslim community was against the construction of a Ram temple at the undisputed site at Ayodhya,” Salamatullah said today.

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