By Quamar Ashraf
This week mostly papers significantly covered Sweden’s V-Dem Institute which depicted India in poor light saying that “the world largest democracy is partly free”. Some edits/articles were reluctant to comment upon the report which used strong word against the country’s polity. The edits largely maintain cautions but pointed out on the realities on grounds besides highlighting report’s findings. Most newspapers simply quoted the highlights such as: “After Freedom House report, the V-Dem Institute’s Democracy Report has downgraded India from world’s largest democracy to electoral autocracy”. Besides this, famers’ campaign in Bengal elections and Delhi Police “bias” in framing Muslim in connection with Delhi riots last year.
Acquittal of SIMI members after 20 years
20 years on, Gujarat court acquits 122 people accused of SIMI links
The acquittal was hailed by all newspapers but raised serious question on the judicial process, particularly when cases are related to Muslims. This is not the lone issue, there have been innumerable number of cases where Muslim youth were implicated on fabricated charges and were forced to spent years in jail (Inquilab, March 14). The full-page article gave details of the cases pointing out the prejudiced manner with which the police acted in the case. Two vice-chancellors from Rajasthan, 4-5 professors, doctors, engineers, a journalist and one retired judge” were held on fabricated charges. The article also gives accounts of the acquitted persons who seek justice in the form of compensation and reform in the system. Masoom Moradabai (AEM, March 14) in his article states that the justice is delayed. “Will the guilty cops punished? Will the innocents get adequate compensation? Will the society accept them and treat them fairly? Can any remove the stigma of terrorism and treason?” All edits and articles raised these questions.
Muslims least worry over attempt to change Quran, but are outraged over step
Full blown controversy erupted after former chairman of the Shia Waqf Board, Wasim Rizvi, files a petition in SC seeking removal of 26 verses of the Quran. Rizvi, who often found to be backing BJP on several issues, argued that the verses “promote terrorism and jihad”. Islamic scholars of all sects condemned him unequivocally in strongest possible words. Maulana Wali Rahmani, Maulana Kable Jawwad and Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali – among various others – warned Rizvi of legal action (March 13, all newspapers). Shakil Hassan Shamsi cautions (Inquilab, March 13) from the attempt to wage sectarian division among the Muslim community. He writes over the last 1400 years, several people attempted to tweak and change verses of Quran but failed, reminding the Almighty promises to “protect Quran”. The edit in ST (March 14) also raised the issue citing that the anti-Muslim sells this days, so whoever gets the “opportunity’ makes reckless statement against Islam.
Burqa ban in Sri Lanka
Burqa ban in Sri Lanka only confirms prophecies made in theology
The Sri Lankan government’s decision to ban burqa and shut more than 1000 Islamic schools has prominently played out in news form, yet a couple of papers also carried out editorials. The edit in RSU (March 14) says “it is difficult to make the rulers understand that the acts of few cannot be taken as alibi to bring laws against any faith.” There were several attacks on Muslims by Christians and other faith groups, but rarely any Muslim nation or individuals ever put in the dock any religion. In March 2019, a Christian man attacked a mosque in New Zealand, no Muslim uttered a single word against Christianity. However, the articles/opinions largely depicted the move is the latest in a series of atrocious laws being promulgated against Muslims across the globe. However, some pieces also see it ‘confirmation of the apprehension raised in theology that if Muslims leave the path of dawah (preaching), they will face worst sort of crisis with many also linking the deplorable condition of the Muslims with the “eschatological signs”.
Muslims make up about 9 percent of the 22 million people in Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese Buddhists account for some 75 percent of the population. Ethnic minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus, comprise about 15% of the population.
In 2020, United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report, raised concern over the spike in attacks on places of worships and members of the religious communities in Sri Lanka, besides France and New Zealand.
SY Quraishi book on Musilm population
SY Quraishi book busts Muslim population myth, says polygamy high among Hindus and tribal communities
Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi book “The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India” received wide coverage across all Urdu papers this week with most papers ran the headline, “Propaganda against Muslims should be challenged”. The book busted the myth created by right wing groups about rise of Muslim population, holding polygamy responsible for this. Quraishi in his book used all the government data to bust the myth stating polygamy among tribal communities is 16% polygamy, Hindus 5.8% and Muslims 5.7%. Many newspapers suggest the book is “benchmark” to assess the ratio of population growth among communities. The book delinks Islam from population growth referring to religious texts and allayed the “mischievously concocted fear of Muslim” taking over Hindu population. The SKA edit (March 11) makes it clears that the Muslims by the year 2100 will roughly account for 18% of the country’s population. There is no question of Muslims overtaking the Hindu population. The edits calls for setting the population narrative right.