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Muslim leaders condemn Gujarat temple killings, appeal for harmony
By Danish A Khan

New Delhi, September 25: Muslim organisations and leaders have widely condemned the Swaminarayan temple killings in Gujarat's political capital, Gandhinagar. Muslim leaders have appealed for the restoration of sanity and mutual brotherhood.

The western Indian state of Gujarat had recently witnessed anti-Muslim pogroms after a train car burning incident which carried Hindu pilgrims returning from the temple town of Ayodhya last February. Hindu nationalists have vowed to build a temple in memory of the mythical god-king Rama at the site where the historical Babari Masjid once stood, and which was demolished by Hindu nationalist zealots in December 1992.

The temple incident started Tuesday, September 24, when two terrorists stormed into the vast temple complex despite strong security arrangements. The terrorists who were in the prime of their youth started firing indiscriminately with assault rifles and hurled hand grenades. At least 30 worshippers were killed and dozens grievously injured.

The operation to flush out the terrorists continued till day-break Wednesday. Three security personnel, including one from the elite commando National Security Guards (NSG), were killed. The terrorists were also gunned down.

Muslim organisations were unanimous in unequivocally condemning the Gujarat temple killings. Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadwi, president of India’s apex Muslim religious body, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), came out with a strong condemnation of the killings. Maulana Nadwi said in a message emailed to MG, “Terrorist attack on the Akshardham temple of Gujarat is an inhuman act which I strongly condemn. Killing innocent citizens and attacking religious places of worship is a hateful and dastardly act which must never be permitted.”

“This is a conspiracy to destroy India’s secularism, democracy, mutual understanding and brotherhood. It is the duty of all of us to exercise utmost restraint on this tragic occasion and foil the unholy intention and plots of enemies of the country,” Maulana Nadwi's statement added.

In a special statement prepared for MG, India's top Muslim scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

said that "What is happening in Gujarat and elsewhere has nothing to do with religion. Rather, it is an exploitation of religion for political purposes. Moreover, it is not even politics in the real sense of the word. Politics is a noble profession. This kind of religious exploitation degrades politics."

"Those who indulge in such politics are not true servants of the nation. They cannot even be described as serving even their own political interests. For this kind of practice will ultimately lead to disaster, for both the nation and the exploiter. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it begets the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it," Maulana Khan said in his statement.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, imam of Delhi’s historic Jama Masjid, put the onus of the crime on state chief minister Narendra Modi. Blaming him squarely, Imam Bukhari said that the outrageous statements against Muslims made by Modi during his gaurav yatra (pride march) “could have provoked a retaliatory act.” Bukhari has termed the act as “anti-Islamic” and said, “Islam does not permit killing of innocent civilians. I appeal to Muslims and our Hindu brethren to join hands to wipe out terrorism from the country’s soil.”

Maulana Jameel Ilyasi, president of the All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques, in his scathing remarks said that the attack was most condemnable. “It is a conspiracy to defame Islam and Muslims. The attack is against the teachings of Islam and this kind of anarchy is unacceptable to Indian Muslims,” he said.

Terming the act as “anti-social,” Abdul Wahab Khilji, a senior funtionary of Muslim representative body All India Milli Council, said that such acts of disruption were only aimed at further weakening the secular foundations of the nation. He said, talking to MG, that forces inimical to the country had hatched a conspiracy to widen the Hindu-Muslim gulf and destroy harmony. “The time has come to expose these forces and deal with them sternly before the nation is brought to ruins,” he told MG. 

Maulana Khilji also demanded a thorough and impartial probe to bring out the whole truth. He regretted that it had become a practice with the present-day rulers to link every terrorist activity with Muslims, and that too when they were not directly involved.

Prof. Iqbal A Ansari, secretary general of Minorities Council of India, a human rights organisation, said that this heinous and deplorable act should be widely condemned. The temple killings had been deliberately targeted to spread chaos across the nation. “This brings into focus dangerous implications for retaliatory violence continuing for the last 20 years. Action-reaction theory has begun and is likely to continue for the next 20 years,” he said speaking to MG.

Prof Ansari lamented that Muslims were labelled "terrorists," but what about Sangh Parivar [RSS family] terrorists who had been left scot-free to spread a reign of terror. He demanded that “VHP terrorists”, “Shiv Sena terrorists”, “Bajrang Dal terrorists,” “RSS terrorists,” and other Hindu nationalist terrorists should also be brought to book and accordingly dealt with under the law of the land. Speaking to MG, Prof. Ansari said, “If terrorists like Narendra Modi, Bal Thackrey, Praveen Togadia, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar, Giriraj Kishore, Lal Krishna Advani and others are not arrested and severely penalised this process of retaliatory violence is not going to stop for years to come.”

Dr. S. Qasim Rasool Ilyas, chief editor of Afkar-e-Milli magazine and spokesperson of AIMPLB, said that the temple killings were “unfortunate.” Places of worship should not become targets of attacks, but it was none else than Narendra Modi himself who allowed brazen acts of violence against Muslims and wanton destruction of Muslim mosques, graveyards etc during the two-month long anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat. After February 28 attacks on places of worship had become rampant.

Upon being asked by MG whether suicidal attacks were permitted by Islam, Dr. Ilyas said that Ulama hold divergent views on the issue. As such, one group of Ulama permitted the logic of suicidal attacks when no option was left for seeking justice like in the case of Palestinian struggle against the Zionist occupiers. However, in India things were different. Efforts should be made for seeking justice within the parameters of the Constitution and judiciary. The stage had not come when suicide attacks in India could be justified, he added. 
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Muslim Organisations' Press Releases:
We condemn Swaminarayan temple attack

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