Hyderabad: AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has stirred controversy with his remark that every child is born a Muslim as he locked horns with right-wing Hindu outfits over their 'ghar wapsi' programme.
"Every child is born a Muslim. His parents and society convert him to other religions," Owaisi said, apparently in a tit-for-tat to hardline Hindu organizations, which have been claiming that ancestors of all Indians were Hindus.
"Islam is the real home of all religions. There is no forced conversion in Islam. It is you who need to come home, but we can't give you money for that," the Hyderabad MP said on Saturday night on the eve of Eid Milad Un-Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammed.
Asaduddin Owaisi. Pic/AFP
Video footages were carried by TV news channels today.
Owaisi's statement drew strong reactions from political parties with senior NCP leader and Rajya Sabha member Majeed Memon calling it a "stunt" to get votes.
"It is a stunt by Owaisi for vote-catching. Everybody has the right to follow his religion and convert to other religion if he wants to. What Owaisi has said is not right," he said.
JD(U) spokesman K C Tyagi described the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader as "Muslim edition" of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and VHP leader Praveen Togadia.
JD(U) Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar termed the hardliners and Owaisi as "two sides of the same coin who complement each other and find sustenance from each other".
"Such activities harm the nation," he said.
As his comments triggered a row, Owaisi said it is a part of his "belief system" that Islam is the real home of all
"It was a public speech. It was a celebration of Prophet Mohammad. I said these things in a 90-minute speech. It is our belief system.
"In a democracy, I have the permission to put forth my views. You are free to disagree. I am not pushing it down somebody's throat," he said.