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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Relief for tsunami victims by the Muslim community

By K Hamza 

There were hardly any traditional Muslim fishermen in the hamlets of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, the worst-hit regions by the tsunami killer waves that smashed every thing in its path, along the southern Indian coastline in Tamil Nadu. Yet, when the monster waves wreaked apocalyptic havoc, Mohammed Yunis, President of the United Islamic Jama’at, a mahallu committee in the locality, rushed to the site, summoning his colleagues for rescue work. In response to his call, Muslims left their houses, work places and shops for the ravaged shores to undertake relief and rescue operation. Within hours of the tragedy striking various aid-agencies arrived and they could save many lives. 

Tsunami survivors in Nagapattinam mosque, 350 kms south of Chennai

Tsunami survivors in Nagapattinam mosque, 350 kms south of Chennai

By the evening on 26th December, around 3000 Muslims toiled round-the-clock rendering help and humanitarian aid to over 10,000 Hindus and Christians who had been housed in the schools, madrassas and even in a Juma masjid in Nagapattinam. It was an incredibly and wonderful sight to behold Muslim volunteers carrying bodies of injured and dead on their shoulders to the ambulances and nearby hospitals. One could not but admire their valiant effort in retrieving bodies of the victims from the debris of collapsed buildings submerged in slush and sea water caused by ferocious tsunami.

The local Muslim community hall at Cuddalore had used their kitchens for cooking food on a mass scale for feeding the survivors in the relief camps. 

In Kerala’s southern coastal areas, casualties were less but the killer waves had ruined the fisher folk’s hamlets, destroying their fishing boats and accessories. Various Muslim and cultural organizations had joined hands with political parties’ aid operations in the affected coastal areas. The have also initiated a massive drive for collection of funds for relief camps.

After adopting scores of orphaned children from Kashmir and Haryana in December last year, the Markazu Saquafathi Sunniya (Sunni Cultural Centre) at Karanthur near Calicut, has decided to set up an orphanage at Andamans and Nicobar for the traumatized orphans and destitute of the unprecedented calamity wreaked by tsunami. "Bringing the children over here from Andamans will be difficult. Rebuilding their lives and dealing with the calamity would be easier for them in their own land than on an alien soil", said A.P Aboobacker Musliyar, the general secretary of the cultural center. The Markaz has branches in Bangalore, Mysore, Mumbai and New Delhi.

In deed, it was a spectacular aid operation, showing the true Islamic spirit, springing from common brotherhood and humanity, launched by Muslims in various localities of calamities, which could at least wipe out the stereotype of terrorist Muslims boosted by the media.

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