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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

But, Kalbe Sadiq is no Modi

Denial of entry to Chicago airport to the soft-spoken, innocuous Maulana intrigues and angers Indian Muslims

The Milli Gazette Online 

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, whom the media loves to call “Shia cleric”, is so soft-spoken and inconspicuous that it is very easy to miss him even in a small crowd. That is why when the news that he was denied permission to enter Chicago reached India, Muslims were intrigued and angered over what they saw as deliberate affront to a respectable and innocuous religious leader.

The incident occurred on March 17, but most people in India came to know it six days later, when his son Kalbe Hussein told reporters in Lucknow that the maulana was stopped at Chicago airport by immigration officials. 

Kalbe SadiqKalbe Hussein said his father was treated like a criminal. The interrogators asked him silly questions like, “Do you know how to make a bomb?” After a long ordeal the maulana was asked to return to London. He was accompanied by two other community leaders, Maulana Safi Haider and Maulana Askari.

The news sent shock waves through the Indian Muslim community. Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani, vice-president of the Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (Qasmi Group), and Mushawarat general secretary Maulana Ameeduzzaman Kairanwi took strong note of the development. The Mushawarat leaders said that the way US authorities had treated Maulana Kalbe Sadiq amounted to humiliation of the entire Indian Muslim community.

Muslim leaders wondered as to what possibly could be the reason for such shabby treatment meted out to a perfect gentleman like Maulana Sadiq. Coming in the wake of Modi’s visa denial as it did, people were at a loss to find any similarity between the two cases.

In Rae Bareli, Maulana Imtiaz Ahmad Nadvi of the Siddiq Akbar Foundation raised a pertinent question: “If the Government of India is so much worried about the visa of the mass killer Narendra Modi, why does not it show any concern for Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, who has harmed nobody?”, he asked.
The protest spread throughout the country as Muslim leaders made their anger felt through press statements. Demonstrations were reported from New Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and other cities, besides smaller towns.

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, who is also the vice-president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, is equally popular among Shias and Sunnis. Ulama of Deoband, the bastion of Sunni Islam in the Subcontinent, came out in support of Maulana Sadiq. Both the Darul Ulooms made it clear that they were outraged over the incident.

Deputy rector of Darul Uloom, Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, and spokesman of Darul Uloom (waqf), Maulana Abdullah Jawed, suggested that India too should deny visa to Americans in future. Maulana Madrasi said that by killing a large number of innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq the US regime had shown that it is “the greatest terrorist of all”.

In New Delhi, the Ulama of Islamic Council of India said in a press release on March 25 that Maulana Sadiq was “kept in custody for three days in America” and mentally tortured. Council Chairman Qari Mohammad Miyan Mazhari made an appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh to convey the resentment of Indian Muslims to the US.

Among the signatories to the press statement were Qari Abul Hasan Qadri of Lucknow, Maulana Zahid Raza of Uttranchal, Prof. Halim Khan of Madhya Pradesh, Maulana Usman Ghani Qadri of Gujarat and Maulana Qari Abdul Muttalib of Kanpur.

Statements of protest came pouring into newspaper offices for the entire fortnight. On March 28, president of Muslim Majlis Khalid Sabri said that some people who tried to undermine the Muslim Personal Law Board by establishing a parallel board got a great welcome in America. That showed America wanted to divide Indian Muslims.

Protests and demonstrations continued to be reported from different areas till MG went to the press.
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