Mumbai: Muslim non-profits deem the Amarnath attacks 'anti-islamic', protest at Azad Maidan

Muslims protest against Amarnath Yatra killings, say reaction is extension of 'Not in My Name' movement

The demonstration held at the Azad Maidan on Wednesday afternoon. Pic/Atul Kamble
The demonstration held at the Azad Maidan on Wednesday afternoon. Pic/Atul Kamble

Muslim non-profits are out on the roads protesting against the terror attack on Hindu Amarnath Yatra pilgrims on Monday, June 10. Seven pilgrims were killed and 19 injured when their bus came under a hail of bullets in Jammu & Kashmir.

During rush hour on Tuesday (July 11), in the evening Bandra Station (E) is swarming with rickshaws and BEST buses carting commuters weaving their way through vehicles trying to get home. "It is a high visibility spot, and a lot of Muslims live here. That is precisely why we wanted to hold a protest against the killings at the spot," said advocate Adil Khatri, who heads the legal chapter of the Mumbai non-profit, 'Jai Ho Foundation' which provides legal aid to the poor and aims to foster peace amongst communities.

Protest held at Bandra (E) under the aegis of the ‘Jai Ho Foundation’

Anger outlet
Says Khatri, "We sensed anger amongst Muslim locals against the attack and wanted to give voice to this ire. This terror attack is not in my name," says Khatri using the phrase which was used to name the recent protests against lynching in the country.

"We burnt the flag of Pakistan and photos of Pak PM Nawaz Sharif to reinforce our message that this is a proxy war and our rallying cry was that India should declare Pak an enemy state."

Jai Ho Foundation president Afroz Malik agreed that, "these attacks do deepen the divide between Hindus and Muslims. There is an attempt by certain people to fan the flames of stereotypes like, Indian Muslims must have helped the terrorists in some way. There is a belief amongst many, and I do admit it exists. We want to reiterate that we will never help the enemy in any way. We are loyal, even our forefathers have fought for the freedom of this country," said Malik. Both Malik and Khatri claim that the reaction was "spontaneous."

People power
It is evident though that the Muslim community is under some pressure to "prove" or "show" its loyalty to the nation. To stand up and "condemn" these attacks in public, the pressure is covert but it cannot be denied.

Javed Anand of the self explanatory, 'Muslims for Secular Democracy' (MSD) which held a protest on Wednesday afternoon at the Azad Maidan for the Amarnath killings says, "that has been a constant, I am not taking away from that. Especially in the last three years, the nationalism and loyalty of the Indian Muslim has been extra suspect. These protests though, some also happened in Mira Road and Mumbra, are more spontaneous. They are an extension of the recent demonstrations against the lynch mobs, where 'not in my name' has become the metaphor for a people power movement."

Voice choice
Anand claims that, "It is the responsibility of the Govt to protect the life and liberty of the people. When this does not happen, it is the Govt which has to send a strong message that breaking the law will not be tolerated. It is also the opposition's duty to come on the streets and protest. Both these are absent, and as a result we see the citizens on the streets making the movement their own and giving voice to the anger and angst at these killings. The wall of silence has been breached."

Both Anand and Firoze Mithiborwala, also of MSD said, "the Muslim community felt that all communities, Hindus included came out and spoke out against the lynchings that have taken place and the Muslims too, should be speaking out in support of Hindus at this time."

The activists look at the larger picture saying "the positives here though is that the citizens have found their voice, and in the world's largest democracy, in the end, it is the ordinary people's voices that should have the most decibel power."

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