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Muslims support U.P. ban on bauty contests
By Masood Hasan, Lucknow

Muslim organizations, clerics and leaders have supported the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh, in the controversy over his decision to ban beauty contests in Uttar Pradesh. They were of the opinion that the ban was a laudable step as the beauty contests openly displayed nudity. On the other hand, some political parties, including the allies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, have come out openly against the decision. 

The world-renowned Shia cleric, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, favoured the ban on beauty pageants in the state describing it as a right step to save the country from cultural invasion from the West. He pointed out that Islam had prohibited Muslim women from participating in such contests. He appealed to the Muslim women not to take part in the pageants.

The Secretary of the Indian Islamic Council, Muhammad. Maroof Khan, lauded the move and said that such contests polluted the minds of the new generation. He demanded imposition of ban on the contests in the whole country.

The editor of a leading Urdu daily of the state capital, Sahafat, Irfan Siddiqui, said that multinational companies had targetted the third world countries like India to sell their products in the market by organizing such contests. Endorsing the decision of the Chief Minister, Siddiqui said that the country should not allow the women to be part of the commodity market. He dubbed the pageants as a strategy by the West to invade Indian culture.

The Sunni Youth Federation favoured the ban imposed on pageants and said that these contests were being held at the behest of the multinationals, who wanted to sell their cosmetic products in a big market like India. The Federation pointed out that beauty was a boon gifted by the God, which cannot be judged in a competition. Sultan Shakir Hashmi, editor of another Urdu daily, Ek Aur Duniya, also hailed the ban decision of the Chief Minister.

Some political parties have, however, opposed the Chief Minister's decision to ban the beauty contests. The Bahujan Samaj Party has opposed the ban decision describing it as an effort in stopping the women from entering in tough competitions. The BSP Vice-President and the former U.P. Chief Minister, Ms. Mayawati, felt that the the ban decision had exposed the narrow-mindedness of Singh and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The BSP leader pointed out that earlier the RSS was opposing the pageants now the Chief Minister had adopted this Sangh agenda. 

Unexpectedly, the Loktantrik Congress Party President, Naresh Agarwal, who is a senior cabinet minister in the Rajnath Singh Government, has appealed to the Chief Minister to review his decision. Agarwal was of the opinion that the ban on the pageants would be an infringement upon the freedom of the women. On the other hand, the leader of a faction of the Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party and a senior minister, Narendra Singh, said that the Chief Minister should not have announced the decision before the matter was discussed at the cabinet meeting. 

It may be recalled that at a press conference in Lucknow recently, the Chief Minister had directed the Chief Secretary, Bholanath Tiwari not to give permission for holding beauty pageants in the state.

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