Kerala Muslims unhappy with Left govt’s response to ‘narcotic jihad’

The Kerala government has decided to take up certain issues with the Centre | Photo - Twitter/ANI

The Muslim community is clearly not happy with the way the CPI(M)-led government has dealt with some leaders of the Christian church over the ‘narcotic jihad’ comments, and has demanded strong intervention from the Left leadership.

The reactions are in response to the statements of Fr. Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, the Bishop of Pala Diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church, regarding ‘narcotic jihad’, or the attempt to lure Christians to other communities using drugs, with an oblique reference to the Muslim community.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was dismissive in his response during a press conference. “I don’t know in what context he has made such a statement. We all know that there is narcotic mafia, but it has nothing to do with religion. There is no point in blaming a particular religion for that.”

This was in stark contrast to his usual style of criticising sharply anyone who makes a communally volatile statement. In this case, he sounded guarded.

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The Minister for Cooperation and Registration, VN Vasavan’s visit to the Bishop’s house at Pala and his meeting with Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt further fuelled tempers.

Also read: Kerala Bishop’s ‘narcotic jihad’ remark and its undercurrents

‘Suprabhatham Daily’, the mouthpiece of EK Sunni faction slammed the minister’s friendly gesture to the Bishop in an article titled, ‘Halleluya sung for the hunter’, which pointed to the injustice meted out to the Muslim community, without naming the minister.

On the other hand, Kanthapuram AP Aboobackar Musaliar, the leader of A P Sunni faction-the one that is traditionally known to be loyal to the Left, sharply criticised the Bishop. Musaliar demanded that the Bishop withdraw the statement unconditionally.

Although Musaliar has not targeted the government, insiders indicate that the soft stance taken by CPI(M) has deeply disturbed the AP faction too.

‘Balancing act’

CPI(M) appears to be playing a ‘careful game of balancing act’ by being close to the Catholic leadership despite the overtly abhorrent statements made by them one after the other. This statement by Samastha Kerala Jem’iyyathul Ulema leader Sayyid Muhammad Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal, the leader of the EK Sunni faction in Kerala, is a clear signal of displeasure towards the government.

He said that when someone makes such statements, the government should take the initiative to address the issue and maintain communal harmony.

He dismissed all references to love jihad, saying love has nothing to with Jihad.

“Irrespective of religion, people fall in love. It happens across all religions. That apart, the Muslim community has no project of love jihad.”

He asserted that the community is hurt and those who have the duty to heal it have to act.

The Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen, a prominent mujahid faction in Kerala, was quite direct in its criticism. Its state president, TP Abulla Koya Madani said that there is a deliberate effort to create communal divide between the minorities in Kerala and demanded the government to warn those who make such statements.

A Vijayaraghavan, the state secretary of CPI(M), too was dismissive when he said the party does not think that the Bishop had any ulterior motive. “The problem lies with the people on both sides who used his statement with an intention to create communal divide.”

Legal action sought

Samastha Kerala Sunni Student’s Federation demanded that the government take legal action against the Bishop.

The opposition UDF has decided to strike while the iron is hot. “We have filed written complaints against the Bishop, but the government has not yet taken any action on it. It is obviously clear that the government and CPI(M) are clearly taking sides,” said Jyoti Kumar Chamakkala, KPCC secretary.

Also read: ‘Narcotics jihad’: Kerala BJP backs Bishop, wants Centre to intervene

Before the dust on the ‘narcotic jihad’ settled, the Catholic diocese of Thamarassery (Wayanad) brought out a text book for religious classes containing scornful remarks against the Muslim community. The text warns Christian girls to be alert against ‘black magic’ done by Muslim priests to attract them and convert them to Islam. The text even goes on to warn Christian youth not to dine with Muslims or travel with them. After an uproar, the diocese apologised and declared that the text was withdrawn.

“Islam in Kerala is as old as the period of prophet Mohammed, but does not have the history of organised conversion,” says Dr Ashraf Kadakkal, historian and professor at Kerala University. “It is shocking and disappointing to see the kind of silence from the side of influential people from the Christian community. Those whom we expect to speak up upholding secular values are not seen doing it. The Left in Kerala also has to introspect whether the positions taken by them are right.”

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