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Published in the 16-30 Jun 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Lucknow erupts against US 
By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

Lucknow: This city, which has been in the forefront of Muslim struggle in the Subcontinent, demonstrated its burning soul again on May 30, 2004 when it erupted in a mass protest against the US bestiality in Iraq in which Muslims, Hindus, communists, leftists, trade unionists and socialists took part. The immediate provocation was the callous US and allies strikes on the holy shrines at Karbala and Najaf in Iraq.

Lucknow demo against US in Iraq

Lucknow demo against US in Iraq

The protesters assembled at the Maqbara (mausoleum) of Saadat Ali Khan who took over as Nawab Wazir of Awadh in 1798 and was buried there in 1814. Shutters were down all over the old city, even the slaughterhouse was closed.
People poured in from all sides. Busloads of protesters came from adjoining districts like Faizabad, Barabanki, Sitapur and Kanpur.

Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, the firebrand Muslim cleric and the Imam-e-Juma of Asifi Mosque had given the call on May 22. For the next eight days he was on his toes, visiting people on streets, mobilsing opinion and masses for the day of rage. He organised many meetings with intellectuals, teachers, student-leaders and ulama. 

Besides Maulana Jawwad, leading the protest march of over 50,000 people in a hot summer day were Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, Maulana Fazlur-Rehman, Imam-e-Juma of Tilewali Mosque, Dr. Sayed Kalbe Sadiq, Maulana Khadim Husain, Maulana Jehangir Qasmi and Swami Avimukteshwaranand, who represented Swami Shankaraharya Swaroopanand of Varanasi.

With thousands of black flags, equal numbers of placards and big banners held to the chest as protesters marched past district magistrate house, Halwasia, Hazratganj and Imambara Sibtainabad. 

‘Who makes the world’s biggest terrorist-triple? Ariel Sharon, George Bush and Tony Blair’ announced a banner. ‘Don’t challenge Muslims as no Columbus will ever discover America again,’ declared another. ‘Stop terrorism in Palestine and Iraq and leave our holy shrines immediately’ said a third banner.

The rantings in the air were filled with “Allaho-Akbar” (God is Greatest) and “Ariel Sharon, George Bush and Tony Blair Murdabad” (down with...). What added impetus to the procession was the presence of about two thousand Muslim women, all clad in black hijab with their small children, despite the scorching sun.

Kalbe Jawwad with Swami Avimukteshwaranand to his left
Kalbe Jawwad with Swami Avimukteshwaranand to his left

The procession after covering about two kms finally culminated at the General Post Office, the city’s largest cross-road. The procession started at 11:30 am. and it took almost two hours to cover this small distance. Thereafter, everyone stood for the next forty-five minutes listening to speeches by leaders. 

The protest was graced by Swami Mukteshwaranand who walked hand-in-hand wearing his wooden footwear. “I have come here as a representative and with a message of love and brotherhood from my Swami. During the march sometimes I lost control over my footwear and, then I could feel the heat emanating from the road. This heat from above as well as below and the rage of thousands of Muslim men, women and children is a sure precursor for the ultimate doom of the imperialist America,” he said, adding that today US, UK and Israel are targeting Islam and tomorrow Hinduism is going to be on their target list. He further said that the US is trying to create an imaginary ghost of terrorism in order to control the oil and gas reservoirs of Iraq and Afghanistan. Mahabharata, the great Hindu epic, is based on war between five Pandawas and hundred Kaurawas but the Pandawas still are glorified and there is no one to stand by Kaurawas. Gita says that had any third power intervened, both Pandawas and Kaurawas would have become one hundred and five to fight against their common enemy. This is a message that Hindus and Muslims will unite to bring down US, UK and Israel to frustrate their evil designs on Iraq and Palestine, Swamiji said.

Maulana Kalbe Jawwad spoke amid thunderous slogans of Shaheed-e-Karbala ka khoon yaad hai, yaad hai / sun lo aiy Amreekiyo ham tumhari maut hain (the blood of martyrs of Karbala is still freshly in our memory/ We are death to the US) followed by Iraq ki galiyan sooni hain / George Bush khooni hai (The lanes of Iraq are empty / George Bush is a murderer)…. He said “I am extremely thankful to women who have braved the heat and have stood with us here. I am proud of them for it is they who are the actual bedrock of any Islamic movement,” Jawwad said, adding that it is time to shun all comforts of life as the enemies of Islam are bent upon damaging and dismantling everything considered holy and respectable in Islam.

Protesters burnt a replica of the White House along with effigies of Bush, Sharon and Blair.

Jawwad attacked the American policies and expressed surprise as to why no one from Bush’s administration resigned after the attack on WTO on 9-11 and why did it take months and months to formally constitute 9-11 Commission only after rigorous persuasion of 9-11 victims’ families. Jawwad pointed towards another commission, initiated in US, about why no WMDs were found in Iraq!

“These two commissions are nothing but a farce added to the heaps of false propaganda dished out from White House, BBC and CNN,” he said. “Both these channels have lost their credibility and their coverage smacks of shades of nazism, racism and the extremism of Ku Klux Klan,” he said.

Jawwad lamented the damage done to the holy shrines at Karbala and Najaf and the entry of US coalition forces into the holy shrines and said that Muslims will never forgive US for this dastardly act as Sikhs too have not yet forgiven the entry of armed forces into the Golden Temple in 1984.

He read out a memorandum sent to the President of India which demanded immediate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, trial of George Bush and Tony Blair for war crimes in Hague, Palestine be handed over to Palestinians and US to pay compensation for killing innocent Iraqis and Palestinians. The memorandum also called for the boycott of American and British goods and asked India to help in the reconstruction of Iraq and the formation of a popular and independent government in Iraq under UN.

Jawwad announced that the historical sites in Lucknow like Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara and Shah-e-Najaf are now out of bounds for American, British and Israeli tourists.

“Shiites and Sunnites are the blades of a scissor and so are the Muslims and Hindus and anyone who aspires to create a wedge between them will be cut into pieces,” Jawwad said, adding that later in June a huge protest will be held in front of the US embassy in Delhi.

“The show of unity today in Lucknow was reminiscent of the camaraderie of Hindus and Muslims during the Khilafat Movement in 1920s,” said Mukhtar Anees, a Samajwadi Party leader. Mohammad Sulaiman, general secretary of Indian National League, supporting the cause also pointed out towards the turn-coat ulama and Muslim journalists touring US on American sponsored trips. “It is like having dinner with General Dyre in the evening after his Jalianwala Bagh massacre”, Sulaiman said reminding that Tagore renounced his knighthood after the Britishers massacred Indians in Jalianwala Bagh.

Kalbe Jawwad has now left Lucknow on a whirlwind tour of UP. He will be addressing around one hundred public functions for the final show at Delhi. 

Read more: Protests in Delhi

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