Muslims ask PC to apologise

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 3.01.10
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Chidambaram

New Delhi, Jan. 2: Muslim organisations have asked Union home minister P. Chidambaram to apologise or face legal action over his references to jihad in a lecture in Delhi last week.

Delivering the Intelligence Bureau centenary endowment lecture on December 23, Chidambaram had said: “Just as the Cold War came to an end, we witnessed the emergence of another kind of war, namely, jihad. Jihad is a war or struggle against unbelievers and, currently, it is waged by a number of groups owing allegiance to Islam. Unlike the original Crusades, jihad is not fought like a conventional war. Jihad employs terror as an instrument to achieve its objectives. Such terror is directed against all and sundry, its victims are usually innocent people, and its goal is to overawe and overthrow the established authority. The tactics of the jihadis have been copied by militants belonging to other groups too, not excluding militants professing the Hindu faith.”

Organisations such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and the Jamiat Ulema have condemned the statement.

Qasim Rasool Ilyas, executive committee member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, described Chidambaram’s statement as highly deplorable.

“A couple of months back, he had praised Islam in high terms while addressing the gathering of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind in Deoband and said that terrorism had been wrongly attached with Islam which preaches peace. But addressing police and intelligence officials, he has now equated jihad with terrorism. It is very unfortunate and uncalled-for from a person who is holding the very important post of home minister,” Ilyas said.

The Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, a Muslim organisation from Chidambaram’s home state, has threatened legal action if he does not withdraw his statement. Another organisation, the Tamil Nadu Shariath Protection Council, has given the minister a week to apologise.

“Your statement has caused anguish and resentment affecting the good relations between the Muslim community and the party in power at the Centre. It is our hope that you will be gentlemanly enough to withdraw your statement,” said the Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam president, M.H. Jawahirullah.

“Your reported speech at the recent Intelligence Bureau meeting equating two diametrically opposite concepts, viz. the noble jihad with the abominable terrorism, has very badly hurt the sentiments of the Muslim minority community,” Jawahirullah said.

In an open letter to the minister, Jawahirullah said: “Jihad is admittedly a struggle but against what and against whom is the question. It is a striving against injustice and falsehood. That Islam teaches that this should be done through violence is an unadulterated lie.

“Making a distinction between the ‘Crusades’ and ‘jihad’, it is reported that you have chosen to call the former a “conventional war” and the latter “a war against unbelievers”. I am sorry to say, with all the emphasis at my command, that nothing is farther from the truth than the said statement of yours. The Crusades were regular, full-fledged wars between two states, viz two communities — Christians and Muslims — sponsored by the rulers of the respective groups, led by their respective military commanders. It is only if and when Muslims engage themselves in such a kind of war, it is taken to be a jihad. Even during such war, Muslims have been directed not to attack priests, the aged, women and children.”