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Historic and significant, Indian Muslims say on Harvard action

Thursday December 08, 2011 07:23:26 PM, & Agencies

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Malegaon/New Delhi: Terming as historic and significant the Indian Muslims Thursday hailed the Harvard action against Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy for his outrageous article published in a Mumbai English daily last summer.


"Subramanian Swamy is known for his anti-Islamic and anti-minority hate campaigns. But he always evaded action thanks to the sympathetic Indian establishment. Harvard action against him is significant in that sense", Taalib Mehdi, a Mumbai resident who is a businessman by profession said to on phone.


Stating that Swamy seems to be hating everything which is Islamic, Tabrez Ahmed, a student of Sociology said, "Swamy is the one who went to the court against Kerala Government when it decided to establish Islamic Finance Corporation in the state. Though the High court quashed his petition, his move is enough to understand what is Swamy and his campaign are all about."


Stating that the Indian government should learn a lesson from Harvard, Naved A Khan, an activist said, "The controversial article by Swamy is not the only one by him. There are numerous other articles in which he has expressed his hatred towards minorities. The Harvard action is a guideline for the Indian government to take action against him."


"In India, double standard is maintained vis-à-vis freedom of speech. On one hand, it provides safe heaven to people like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen, and decline action against likes of Swamy, it remains mute spectator when people like MF Husain are forced to leave the country", said Dr. Rashid Siddiqui, a urologist. 


Swamy received significant criticism for his op-ed article last summer in the Daily News and Analysis calling for the destruction of mosques, the disenfranchisement of non-Hindus in India who do not acknowledge Hindu ancestry, and a ban on conversion from Hinduism. Later, after National Commission for Minorities hinted taking action against Swamy, Delhi Police filed a criminal case against him for spreading enmity between communities.

Ever since the publication of the article, pressure was built on Harvard to take action against Swamy. But Harvard chose to stand by him in August in an effort to affirm its declared commitment to free speech, faculty members shot down his two courses, effectively removing him from Harvard's teaching roster,
the campus paper said.

Many faculty members determined Swamy's article was not a product of free speech but of hate speech.

"[Swamy's position on disenfranchisement] is like saying Jewish Americans and African Americans should not be allowed to vote unless they acknowledge the supremacy of white Anglo Saxon Protestants," said History professor Sugata Bose.

Meanwhile, Swamy on his part, retorted saying that the move "stifles personal opinion".

"It is a dangerous principle that stifles personal opinion," Swamy told reporters in New Delhi Thursday.

In a message on micro-blogging site Twitter, Swamy added: "I have been held accountable at Harvard for what I write in India. This means India studies' Witzel and Eck are accountable in India. Healthy?"

Michael Witzel and Diana L. Eck are professors at Harvard.








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