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'This House believes Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India'

Doha Debates at St. Stephen's College, New Delhi Monday

Sunday, February 14, 2010 12:54:31 PM, Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: The Doha Debates, the Arab world’s only free speech forum, are to spotlight India's Muslim minority in a high-profile session, to be broadcast globally on BBC World News.


According to the organisers, the motion ‘This House believes Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India' will be debated at St. Stephen's College in New Delhi on Monday February 15.


Debates’ Chairman Tim Sebastian said the subject had provoked considerable controversy within India and he was anxious to see the different arguments brought before an international audience.


“How does a democracy the size of India deal with its Muslim minority and are their rights effectively safeguarded? Who's to blame if they under-perform? What lessons can the rest of the world draw from India's experience? Those are just some of the questions I hope we'll see answered in what I believe will be a lively and important debate", he said.


Speaking for the motion is Ms. Seema Mustafa, the Editor of Covert magazine. She has authored a number of books on Indian politics and in 1999 received the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award for Excellence in Political Reporting and Analysis for her coverage of the Kargil war.


With her is Ms. Teesta Setalvad, Civil rights activist and the co-founder of Sabrang Communications, an organisation aimed at protecting and promoting human rights in India. She has been at the forefront of the campaign for justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots and in 2003 she won the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. In 2007 she was awarded the prestigious civilian honour, the Padma Shri by the Indian Government for her work in public affairs.


Against them is M.J.Akbar, distinguished journalist and Chairman and Director of Publications of Covert Magazine. He has launched and edited several publications in India including a new weekly publication The Sunday Guardian and served as a member of India’s Parliament from 1989-1992.


He is joined by the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot. Pilot made history in 2004 by becoming the youngest Member of Parliament when he was elected in Dausa, Rajasthan. He won by a record margin of over 120,000 votes.


The trip to St. Stephen’s College, one of India’s top-rated educational institutions, is a sign of the unique status of The Doha Debates as the leading forum for free speech in the Arab and Muslim worlds.


Reverend Valson Thampu, Principal of St. Stephen's College, welcomed the Debates to India and the opportunity for his students to be ambassadors for their country.


"The Doha Debates have established a fine reputation as a forum that gives a fair hearing to both sides, applying equal pressure and giving equal time. We are looking forward to hosting them and are delighted that they have accepted our invitation," he said.


It is the fourth time that the Debates have been hosted outside Qatar. Previous sessions were staged last year at Georgetown University in Washington DC and at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions in the UK in 2007.


A small group of students, based in Qatar and representing a selection of high schools and universities, will attend the debate in Delhi and visit a number of educational institutions.


For further information, contact:

Patrick Forbes: 9560636143/ 


Bhavya Suri / Dhruv Choudary
Perfect Relations
9871301008 / 9650764588






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