AFMI’s 20th Annual Convention in Detroit Discusses Ayodhya Verdict & Pluralism
Justice and rule of law suffered due to Ayodhya Verdict: Asaduddin Owaisi, MP
India as a nation should move on: Javed Akhtar, lyricist & MP
By Mohammad Ayub Khan, MMNS
DETROIT, MICHIGANâ€”With a banquet hall overflowing with over 600 guests, AFMIâ€™s 20th convention discussed the issues of pluralism, democracy and minority rights in India. Pluralism, democracy, and minority rights were the focus of discussion at the two-day Twentieth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) in Detroit on October 16-17, 2010. The theme of the convention, â€˜Pluralism: Path to Peace and Progress,â€™ was timely coming as it did in the light of the recent Ayodhya verdict by the Allahabad High Court. This was the first time that any of the Indian Muslim leaders and intelligentsia had spoken on the Babri Masjid issue on an international stage after the recently delivered verdict.
Javed Akhtar, bollywood lyricist & recently appointed member of the Rajya Sabha, Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament from Hyderabad & president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Gary Peters, US Congressman from Michigan, Adv. Suhail Tirmizi, counsel for Gujarat riot victims, were the main speakers at the convention which was attended by delegates from across United States and Canada.
Barrister Asaduddin Owais,MP, said that the cause of justice has suffered in India due to the verdict on Ayodhya by the Allahabad High Court. The verdict has harmed the reputation of India as a country governed by the â€˜rule of lawâ€™ and it is in national interest to take the matter to the supreme court. He said the case will definitely be pursued the Supreme Court of India and it will argued by the countryâ€™s top legal luminaries.
He said that the judgment took into consideration various extraneous things which had nothing to do with the original title suit including the existence of deities and whether a temple was demolished over 500 years ago. Pointing out to the legal loopholes of the verdict Asaduddin Owaisi, an alumni of Lincolnâ€™s Inn, said the court has treated a deity â€˜Ram Lallaâ€™ as an eternal minor and a party to the suit but Babri Masjid was not accorded the same legal standing. Similarly, the court relied on a â€˜dubiousâ€™ 2004 report by the Archaeological Survey of India which is known to be acting as a front organization of the Sangh Parivar. Additionally, the judgment overlooked the fact that animal bones and glazed ceramics were found at the site of the Babri Masjid.
He said the mature reaction of the Indian Muslim community shouldnâ€™t be mistaken for acceptance of the verdict. â€œWe are absorbing the pain as mature and responsible community. That is why there is no violence. We have matured as a community and will work within the legal framework. But this shouldnâ€™t be confused with the acceptance of the verdict. Muslim voters are going to teach a lesson to those responsible in the upcoming elections of Bihar, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh.â€™
Rejecting calls for a negotiated settlement he said the issue is of national importance and that it has the potential to open a whole array of irresolvable conflicts. The best thing under the present circumstances is to take the matter to the Supreme Court. â€˜What if the Jains and Buddhists start demanding a return of their temples and viharas which were demolished and were now Hindu temples stand?â€ he asked.
Barrister Owaisi said that there is much talk about the astha (ethos) in the discussions of the Ayodhya verdict. The only astha that should matter in the legal arena is the â€˜secular aasthaâ€™ and anything on the contrary is anti-thetical to the pluralist character of India, he said. Hailing India as a great civilization, superior to that of China, he said that it is vital for everyone concerned take a principled stand on this issue.
Mr. Javed Akhtar in his speech said that the India as a nation should move on and concentrate on bread and butter issues. He said that the fundamentalism of any kind is an impediment in advancing the welfare of downtrodden. He hailed Indian secularism as a boon for all communities and that it should be sustained at all costs.
Mr. Akhtar criticised the Indian Muslim leadership for opposing Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibalâ€™s attempts to â€˜modernizeâ€™ Indian madrassas.
Mr. Owaisi responded by saying that Indian Muslim leaders, including himself, have opposed the move on the principled stance that there should be no undue interference in the madrassas as their objectives are different than those of the regular schools. The proposed project was irrelevant to the overall development of India Muslims because, as pointed out by the Sachar Commission report, only 3% of Muslim students go to madrassas. Even more all available evidence suggests that if there is an option for parents to choose between a madrassa and a regular school in a locality they opt for the regular school. If the government is really serious about the development of Indian Muslims they should open more schools in Muslim localities, he said.
At the convention Mr. Javed Akhtar received AFMIâ€™s Pride of India Award for his outstanding contributions to Urdu literature and for having achieved great distinction as a poet, lyricist, and script writer.
Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi received AFMIâ€™s Excellence Award for his â€˜visionary leadership and effective representation of minority, especially those of Muslims, in the Indian parliament.
Mr. Suhel Tirmizi was awarded the Excellence Award for his â€˜unaparalled commitment and courage to seek truth and justice for Gujarat violence victims, and for standing up against the forces of terror.â€™
Mr. Victor Ghalib Begg, a prominent community leader in North America, was given the Excellence Award for his â€˜outstanding services in promoting understanding of Muslims and Islam through interfaith dialogue in the United States of America.
AFMI president Dr. Iqbal Ahmed and convention chairperson Mrs. Rizwana Khan also received appreciation awards in recognition of their long standing commitment and services to AFMI.
Other speakers at the convention included Dr. Nakadar, Prof. Zafar Khan, Mr. S.M.A.Quraishi, Dr. Sirajuddin Hashmi, Imam Sallie, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Mr. Suhail Tirmizi, Dr. Hussain Nagamia, Mr. Ashfaq Quraishi, Dr. Syed Samee, Dr. Shakir Mukhi, Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Mrs. Rizwana Khan, Mr. Datta Padsalgikar, etc.
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