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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 33 New Delhi August 6, 2016

Is Zakir Naik Really Dangerous?

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Around the autumn of 2009 when Khushwant Singh was working on his book Absolute Khushwant’ and I was putting together/compiling his views-cum-viewpoints, he looked towards me and quipped—

‘What do you think of Zakir Naik?’

‘Zakir Naik! Who Zakir Naik?’

‘That Mumbai doctor who gives talks on Islam.’

‘Haven’t heard him. Is he good?’

‘No, no, unimpressive... he comes across as no great scholar. In fact, the mundane techni-calities he speaks of overshadow the real and actual essence of Islam. Anyway, hear him on one of the television channels and tell me what you think of him.’

The very next day I did try and hear Zakir Naik on the small screen but found his talks mediocre and with that couldn’t hear him for more than ten minutes or so.

And now with all the hue and cry against Naik, did try to once again hear his speeches /talks and once again found them to be below average and unimpressive. But not terrorising. No, definitely not. Not even indirectly relaying terror.

On the contrary there are several other television channels (together with their anchors) that can be termed blatant in their anti-Muslim tirade. Sudershan is one such channel. ...And there are hundreds of Right-wing creatures terrorising the minorities; their speeches and political onslaughts reek of hatred for the Muslims and Dalits and Christians; yet these hate-mongers sit untouched.

And blatantly communal incidents are on the rise where minorities are openly hit. One incident after another. This week two such incidents—I quote from a news report published in the Hindustan Times — “ A school in Haryana has been fined Rs 5 lakhs by a panchayat for organising a special assembly marking Eid, which led to protests and threats. The panchayat also ordered Green Dales Public School to get rid of Muslim staff and students, make its girl students switch to salwar kameez, and banned it from hiking fees for two years.... Residents of Hindu-majority Tauru town in Mewat district, 39 km from Gurgaon, accused the school management of ‘propagating Islam’ and forcing its students, mostly Hindus, to follow Islamic rituals during the event on July 6. A mob armed with sticks and bricks was at the school’s gates the day after the assembly.... The panchayat order has forced the lone Muslim teacher to quit her job and move to Delhi, said school manager Hema Sharma... The school denied the allegations.”

“The children sang, performed plays and prayed. We just wanted them to know and respect each other’s religions. It is absurd to give the issue a communal colour,” said Sharma. A student of Class 4 said: “We sang a famous song from a Bollywood movie and the prayer was in Hindi”, while a Class 8 student said the protesters were about to attack the school but were stopped by some parents. The school accused an electrician of spreading lies.

“He had come to fix some wiring. The guards did not allow him inside as the assembly was on. While leaving, he was heard saying, ‘namazpadharahe hain (they are teaching them to offer namaz)’,” said Sharma.

The second communal incident came from Madhya Pradesh where two Muslim women were beaten on a railway platform on suspicion of carrying beef. Beaten and attacked out there in the open.

Why are these terrorising attackers not picked up by the State machinery and thrown behind bars? Why these double-standards? Why are the minorities getting attacked in these blatant ways?

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