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Excommunication of Muslims in Malegaon: Half-baked stories to strengthen stereotype
Friday, June 04, 2010 03:31:31 PM, Ali Imran, ummid.com
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Tafawut ast mun-I-shunidam-I-man-o-to, Tu bastan-dar, o, man fatahe-bab me shunidam (What you and I hear are different: you hear the sound of closing doors, but I of doors that open)
A Persian couplet that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad choose to use while addressing a gathering of Muslim Youth at the Aligarh Muslim University in 1949. For young Muslims who want to break away from the siege mentality that plagues a bulk of the community, these words spur you on to work for a better tomorrow.
However reading about the ex-communication of five Muslims by a group of Maulvis in Malegaon made me think if the door that leads for a better tomorrow has been shut on the faces of this community. Malegaon over the past four years has become like a second home to me.
Inspite of its stereotyped image as a backward minority dominated town the literacy rate of the city at 65.77 per cent is way better than the Muslim communities literacy levels of 59.1 per cent.
I have met some of the best doctors, thinkers and sensible clerics in this town. The move by the clerics to ex communicates the five individuals for being “Murtads) however came as a huge shock.
Can a town which has regularly churned out SSC, HSC toppers and the largest number of doctors in North Maharashtra make such a mistake.
Interestingly I had met Sharief Cookerwala in 2006, a wiry man with a wispy beard Cookerwala, who runs a road side stall repairing gas cookers, is proficient in the verses of the Geeta as he is with the Koran. He has been holding discourses on the Geeta for sometime. Cookerwala in 2006 did complain about being hauled by the Maulvi’s for his views on Islam but he also claimed that he was living a fairly peaceful life without any trouble from the local community.
Cookerwala now claims that there is a threat to his life. It is indeed deplorable if a man cant speak or do what he feels is right in a free country like ours.
However It is also equally deplorable that a journalist should paint the whole town as being Talibanised without taking the effort to go on the ground and check the details.
Interestingly the same paper had in 2006 done a half-baked story alleging that people were afraid to get their sons or daughters married to residents of Malegaon.
This kind of selective reporting strengthens stereotypes. Malegaon with all its faults has the potential of leading the march of the state’s Muslims towards progress. Some of the best thinkers and academicians hail from this town, by deriding it without checking the facts media is helping in firmly jamming shut the door which leads to progress and a better tomorrow.
Ali Imran is a Mumbai based journalist working with a big media house. This article is his special contribution to ummid.com that he has written in response to the reports coming in the section of media about the excommunication of 5 Muslims in Malegaon
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