Pakistani scholar’s Gujarat remarks spark row


Hyderabad : Pakistani Islamic scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri’s reported remarks advising Muslims to forget the Gujarat riots have sparked a row with some Muslim organisations opposing his ongoing visit to Hyderabad.

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Police have stepped up security for Qadri, who arrived here Tuesday on a five-day trip amid criticism from Jamiat-ul-Ulema and others for his remarks during a visit to Gujarat last week.

The controversial Pakistani scholar, while addressing a meeting at Vadodara in Gujarat Feb 25, reportedly advised Indian Muslims to forget the post-Godhra carnage and move on.

He also thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for providing him security.

Qadri, who faces threat to his life in Pakistan, mostly lives in the West. He is on a visit to India till March 18 and will address religious meetings in Ajmer, Mumbai, Raipur and Bangalore.

A section of Urdu newspapers here published statements by Moulana Naseeruddin and leaders of Jamiat-ul-Ulema condemning Qadri’s remarks.

Large-scale security arrangements were made Wednesday night at Quli Qutub Shah Stadium in the old city of Hyderabad where thousands of Muslims turned out to hear Qadri. He has a considerable following among adherents of the Sufi and Barelvi schools of thought.

The Pakistani scholar addressed the gathering from behind a huge bullet-proof screen and was escorted by his personal security guards and city policemen.

Qadri, who is enjoying the status of a state guest, is moving around in the city with a 14-car escort. A Lincoln limousine has been arranged for his movements. Though he first checked in at state-owned Lakeview Guest House, he later moved to a five-star hotel.

Qadri, who will deliver daily lectures and talks on ‘Ahadith’ (traditions of the Prophet Mohammed), will also be the chief guest at the 54th anniversary celebrations of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a political party that has a strong base in the old city.

The Urdu press stands divided on Qadri’s visit. While the daily Etemaad, published by the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), is full of advertisements and statements welcoming Qadri, other newspapers carried statements criticising his visit.

Leaders of Jamiat-ul-Ulema, which has a huge following here, have accused Qadri of speaking the language of the West.

“By praising the killer of Muslims and calling Muslims terrorists, he is expressing the views of either America and Israel or the RSS and Bajrang Dal,” said Moin Ahmed, a leader of the organisation.

Another leader accused Qadri of linking Muslims to terrorism to appease the West.

Moulana Naseeruddin, a leading cleric who was arrested and jailed by Gujarat Police, alleged that Qadri was adding insult to the injury of Muslims by asking them to forget the massacre.

Qadri has not reacted to the allegations so far and the attempts to contact him for his reaction yielded no results.