From L to R pictured are Dr. Khutb Uddin (AFMI President), Siraj Thakor (President-Elect), Deepak Anand MPP, Prof Apoorva Anand Jha (Chief Guest from New Delhi), Dr. Nakadar (AFMI Trustee), Advocate Suhel Tirmizi (Guest of Honor-Ahmedabad), and Hanif Shaikh (President Canada-Chapter).
By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
The 28th convention of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI) concluded in Toronto with a strong message to support pluralism and defend democracy against the forces that have democratic institutions in India to divide people and spread hatred in the name of religion.
AFMI is mainly concerned about the education of Muslims in India, but the prevalent political conditions inspired the speaker including professor Apporvanand Jha of Delhi University and attorney Suhel Tirmizi, the president of Lokhit Prakashan trust that publishes Gujarat Today daily newspaper. AFMI president, Dr. Khutbuddin, AFMI trustee Dr. A S Nakadar and incoming President Mr. Siraj Thakor to discuss the political context in which education is being imparted.
Dr. A. Jha explained in details the rise of forces who in the name of religion have been trying to usurp India’s pluralistic values and impose its version of a faith that divides people and pitch them against each other to promote the politics of fear.
He urged the people to join hands to defend causes of justice and strengthen those who believe in secular democracy.
He defended the rights of religious minorities to practice their faith fearlessly without proving their patriotism to anyone.
He condemned the policy of uprooting people or lynching them in the name of faith.
Attorney Suhel Tirmizi focussed on deteriorating law and order situation in India where discrimination and biases are institutionalized against minorities and weaker sections.
He narrated several incidents where state officials showed their personal religious biases to discriminate against minorities.
Dr. Khutbuddin focussed on the challenges the minorities have been facing in India and urged people to expose injustices and use all peaceful means to bring about changes.
He invited Yong Muslims.of Indian origin to take the leadership role in the organization.
Dr. Nakadar talked about the achievements of AFMI in improving literacy and educational levels of Muslim Indians. When the organization began working in India, the literacy rate was 30 percent, now it is over 70% among Muslims and illiteracy is 30% He said. He gave many examples of Muslim youth’s achievements in education and added, “Education is the best Defense”.
The Toronto convention focussed on youth and women empowerment. The speakers included Dr. Iqbal Ahmed, Dr. Razia Ahmed, Dr. Akbar, Dr. Sanaullah Khan, Sr. Rabia Khedar, Sr. Farah Jhuman, Sr. Sana Uddin, Mr. S Lokhandwala,
There were about 25 AFMI delegates present from coast to coast representing various states of USA
Sr. Neisha Eckhart chaired the convention and the vice chair was Zubair Khaja Mohiuddin.
The Toronto team was led by Mr. Siraj Thakur, the incoming president of AFMI and Mr. Hanif Shaikh, president Toronto chapter, Mr. Muhammad Afroze, Shahnawaz Khan, Moiz Khan, and many others. The friends of Humanity was the main sponsor of the conversation.
Natalia Kusendova, MPP, presented greetings from the Premier of Ontario Ford, recognizing AFMI’s work. He welcomed AFMI delegates to Mississauga-Toronto-Canada and wished the convention a great success.
Over 550 people attended the AFMI convention, including the following politicians:
Natalia Kusendova , Member of Provincial Parliament (Mississauga Centre), Deepak Anand, Member of Provincial Parliament (Mississauga Malton), Peter Tabuns, Member of Provincial Parliament (Toronto-Danforth), Salma Zahid, Member of Parliament of Canada, and Asif Syed, who read the greetings from Sonia Sidhu MPP of Canada from Brampton.
The participation of so many Canadian lawmakers is a testimony to AFMI’s great work.