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

Allah lives in a minaret: UNICEF

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: The present government under Samajwadi Party (SP) Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav came to power in October 2003 with 90% of Muslim votes after over a decade of persecution which left many unforgettable landmaks... Who can forget the police action against Muslims in Lucknow on June 5, 2001 when they protested against the outraging of modesty of a Muslim girl by policemen. It was the night prior to Barawafaat procession (Prophet Mohammed’s birth day). The March 2001 police firing on Muslims protesting after the Tehelka tape episode and then, within a fortnight, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee delivered a sweet homily on secularism in Tehran (April 10-14, 2001). The banning of Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), taking advantage of the US-led war on terror, together with killing of five by bullets on Sep. 21, 2001 inside state capital, Lucknow. The case of secret orders being passed to make dossiers on the activities and visitors of Muslims and Sikhs were passed on June 26, 2001...

A page from Nanha

A page from Nanha

All hopes of Mulayam Singh Yadav taking steps to redress the wrongs done to Muslims and secular environment seem to be getting belied, particularly on the education front. The issue is of the book being taught in government-run intermediate colleges. The tittle is Bharat Ka Birhat Ithihas-Part-I written by Naitra Pandey and Raja Raman and published by Student Friends Publication, Allahabad in 2003-04. It has an exclusive chapter on Ayodhya which carries notions extremely detrimental and poisonous in content which refers to the Babri Masjid as ‘structure’. 

"In the same chapter there is a judgemental statement about the presence of a temple beneath Babri Masjid irrespective of the fact that the issue is sub judice," said Masoodal Hasan Usmani, general secretary of Deeni Talimi Council (DTC) which is an old Muslim organisation founded by Qazi Mohammad Adeel Abbasi of Basti in 1959. It looks after about 10,000 schools in the state upto 5th standard. The curriculum has all the subjects like Maths, Science and Social Studies taught in Urdu. It has district units called “Anjuman Talimat-e-Din”practically in every district of UP and Uttranchal. It survives on donations from Muslims.

Questioning the mood of the state government over its’ education policy the zonal conference of DTC was held on May 8, 2005. Speakers exhorted the Urdu-speaking population to safeguard Urdu and the Muslim culture. There were appeals to the lovers of Urdu to establish schools where provision for teaching Urdu is made for their children. 

The woes of Muslims regarding state’s apathy to their educational needs are perhaps unending. There is still no nominee from DTC or other minority educational institutions on government education committees to help avert the misinformation against Muslims in the syllabus. The three language formula (English, Hind and Urdu) is yet to be implemented in its true spirit as the most the government has done is introducing government designations written in Urdu script. There is silence on the subject of making the certificate of the Moallim-e-Urdu equivalent to Basic Teaching certificate (BTC). The state machinery does not award minority status to schools once they are raised to a higher level. The powers vested in Vice Chancellors to appoint anyone even in self-finance courses being run by minority institutions are a clause in absolute contradiction to Article (30) of Indian Constitution.

The DTC campaign against striking off the chapter on Ayodhya has fallen on deaf ears. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board Chairman Rabey Hasani Nadwi wrote a letter to Mulayam Singh Yadav on July 27, 2004 seeking an appointment for DTC delegation to meet him and apprise him of the contemptuous and inflammatory information about Muslims in government school textbooks and Mulayam Singh Yadav has still not responded to it!

As if the saffronisation of the textbooks started by the previous BJP regime was not enough even an international player like UNICEF has joined the chorus! It is said here that 2500 million rupees have been allocated by UNICEF to distribute free books to Muslim Madrassas and Makatibs.. UNICEFF officials are touring remote villages in UP like Amethi Bandigi (24 Kms East to Lucknow), Gonda and some Eastern districts of UP and distributing books together with inviting their principals to New Delhi for a five-star working holiday.

UNICEF has brought out a book titled Nanha in Hindi script which is being circulated amongst Madrassas and prepared by Nalanda, Rashtriya Bal Sahitya Centre, New Delhi. It carries a story of a Muslim boy who is always asking his mother questions. In one of the book’s chapters, he notices the minaret of a mosque. The mother tells him that Allah lives in a minaret. On hearing this, Nanha wishes to visit the mosque and play with Allah residing in the minaret! The book is a misnomer as the mother is dressed like a Hindu woman visiting marketplace with no purdah or even covering her head. It has a picture of a mosque having two minarets but the script says there is just one and that azan is heard at “Subha” and “Shaam” (dawn and evening).

Muslims are yet to know about any action taken against persons involved in setting a paper for UP Intermediate Selection Boards Examination-2005, where it was asked if Darul Uloom Dcoband is associated with Terrorism. Barring some lip service nothing is done as it is expected that people will soon forget the issue. Mulayam Singh Yadav seems reasonably comfortable inaugurating the renovation of two temples Kaliwahan temple (Rs. 56.68 lakhs) and Tikasi temple (Rs 94.90 lakhs), both in UP, while taking a swipe at BJP for not being able to lay a single brick for construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya and only using the issue for political games.

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