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INTERVIEW: SHAHID BADAR 
‘MEDIA IS TARNISHING SIMI IMAGE’


23-years-old Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is embroiled in a host of problems. It is alleged that the organization, or at least some of its members, are involved in a number of ‘anti-national’ activities. The press is projecting the organization as a great demon, that it is hand in gloves with ISI, Hizbul Mujahideen and several other terrorist organizations. Media is also crying hoarse over routine activities of the organization, blaming it to be inciting Muslim youths against the country. We have reason to believe that a lot of these stories are planted or inspired by the authorities.
The recent incident in Aligarh Muslim University has given a new twist to all these stories. Again the name of the organization was projected with claims that the accused in the recent bomb blasts were its members. Syed Ubaidur Rahman of The Milli Gazette met the national president of the SIMI, Dr Shahid Badar and tried to probe his mind. Excerpts:

There are allegations that SIMI elements are involved in anti-national activities. How do you defend your organization? 
Students Islamic Movement (SIMI) was never involved in terrorist or anti-national activities. But after the explosion in Agra, there was an spurt of newspaper reports that SIMI is involved in bomb blasts. In the Agra explosion three youths died including one Abdul Hafiz, an Ansar (active member) of the organization. These people were there for a training course in Agra University. It was an accident and we at that time and even now demand that it should be inquired to establish how the incident took place in the first place. After so many days Maruf was arrested. We don’t know when he was arrested. He was never attached to us in any capacity. Mubeen was arrested from the AMU without informing the university authorities. He was an Ansar till two years back. But we expelled him from the organization for anti-disciplinary activities. Both Maruf and Abdul Mubin are not attached to SIMI. We tried to clarify the reports by sending press releases, but not a single newspaper published our clarification. Urdu newspapers are exception.

All our activities are according to the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. We never resort to terrorist activities (fasad fil ard). All our activities are based on two-yearly policy which we prepare in advance. We print it and make it public. None of our activities are underground.

Regarding the recent arrests in Aligarh it is said that these are SIMI people, any comments? 
These are absurd allegations to defame SIMI. It is not proper to uselessly implicate our name in terrorist activities. But let me tell you that these arrests show that it is a step to defame Islam and Muslims.

SIMI is perceived as a rudderless organization, which does not enjoy the support of the community’s elders. Anything to say? 
SIMI has always been an independent organization. Students up to the age of 30 years are eligible to be its member and after completing this age-limit they retire from the organization. People say that we should be under guidance of elders, but on the contrary we perceive that we should not opt for official dependence on any organization as it will limit our reach to all sections of the Muslim society.

SIMI publications, particularly your monthly Islamic Movement, has consistently published inflammatory stories which may incite half-baked young minds to take the law in their own hands and commit the kind of activities which are attributed to it by the authorities. What is your response?
Spelling derogatory words is not correct and neither we support use of such language. We do not believe in inflammatory language. If you are talking of Jihad as inflammatory words, then let me tell you regarding it. We perceive that Jihad is an obligation like prayers (salat) and fasting (saum). We also believe that every obligation has its own timing. But we never tried to opt for terrorism. We never distributed arms anywhere.

Do you see that the present media campaign against SIMI is a prelude to a harsh action like banning your organization? 
Earlier the focus of the media was on persons. Now it is different and pre-planned. It is now aiming the organization directly. It is a propaganda campaign to discredit SIMI so that people end their relationship with it. The government wants to defame us so much that people do not come with us. This campaign started with the news report in the Asian Age a few months back and now it is the culmination of this campaign.
When it comes to ban the organization, it would be difficult for the government to do so. They cannot ban us. In a democracy we have the right to propagate our ideas. If someone has the right to work for Ram Rajya, we too have every right to establish Nizam-e-Mustafa. But we do not neglect any remote possibility.
We are trying to reach people to convey our stand. We are organizing press conferences in several cities and through these we want to convey our stand on important issues. 
But we want to convey to our elders that SIMI is part of the Ummah. What press and media have created is not our image. If SIMI is eliminated it will be the loss of the whole Ummah. And if this starts it wouldn’t end with us:
Main aaj zad pe hoon, tum khush gumaan mat hona
Chiraagh sab ke bujhen ge, hawa kisi ki nahi. 
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