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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Uncle Sam woos Indian Muslims

By Ibrahim Usmani

Hyderabad: Now as the US government is perturbed by its tarnished face, especially in the Islamic World, it is trying to invite religious scholars of different Arabic and Islamic seminaries and organizations to visit the US and the Islamic organizations, centres situated in various American cities.

Delegations of Islamic scholars from India have already visited cities in US under this program. In mid-July, a conference was held in the Viceroy Hotel in Hyderabad, which was attended by those who have already visited under this programme as well as those who are going on such a visit in the near future. The US Consulate in Chennai organized the conference and the participants were provided with return tickets. These participants have allegiance to different schools of thoughts like Deoband, Brielly, Ahl-e-Hadith, Jamiat-e-Ulama, Khanqahs and Nadwatul Ulama. Muslim scholars from different universities like Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University also attended the conference.

This conference, which was a two-day affair, was organized in secrecy so much so that even the local press was kept in the dark. This reporter met one of the participants and asked him about the topics and discussions of the conference. On assurance of anonymity, he said that the topic was ‘Madrasah Educators Alumni Conference.’ In addition to the topic of the conference, the participants asked the purpose of the visit. Some of them criticized the US foreign policy, war on terrorism, brutalities in Abughraib prison in Iraq. They also questioned that although Americans are not bad, why have they elected George Bush as their president.

Replying to the queries and allegations raised by the participants, the diplomats of the US consulate were polite and patient. They said that the main purpose of the visit was to see the religious centres and Islamic organizations in the US. They said that it is due to the American democracy that George Bush was elected as president. 

Replying to one of my questions, the participant said that although the hidden purpose behind this invitation seems to appease Muslim religious scholars but the group of Ulama have decided to take the opportunity of talking to the State Department officials expressing their opinions, reservations and fear of Muslims about the uncalled for offence against Iraq and the American connivance with Israel. The group also decided to present literature on introduction to Islam to the American leaders they will meet.

The three-week programme includes a visit to Washington D.C., New York and Atlanta among other cities. The delegation for this year is divided into two parts. One group is leaving in August end and the other in the first week of September.

For earlier reports in MG on this American programme to woo Indian Muslim leaders see MG 95 (1-15 January 2004), p 1 and MG 104 (16-31 May 2004), p. 16 

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