By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Defending his tweet thanking Kuwait for “standing with the Indian Muslims”, prominent Muslim leader and the chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan on Wednesday said he would sue a section of media particularly a few TV channels who ran a smearing campaign by distorting his views and opinions. Dr Khan asserted that he hasn’t said anything wrong and stands by his post he shared. He also said that he still supports world-known Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik since he was not yet pronounced as guilty.
The ruling BJP and its cohorts in the media created unnecessary brouhaha over his tweet in which Dr Khan stated that “Hindutva bigots” miscalculated the reaction of the Arab world about the “persecution of Muslims in India”. Even the Muslim faces in the party were pressed into service to attack Dr Khan.
— Zafarul-Islam Khan (@khan_zafarul) April 29, 2020
Responding to this, Dr Khan said he issued a tweet on his twitter handle on April 28, 2020 which was in the background of how the issues of Muslims have been dealt with in the country, “be it lynching, riots, and media bashing or redressal of their problems in political and administrative processes.”
“Yesterday, 28 April 2020, I issued a tweet on my twitter handle. Nothing more should be added to this tweet as done by some media establishments.”
Thank you #Kuwait for standing with #IndianMuslims! #Islamophobia #Islamophobia_In_India @kuna_en @kuwaittimesnews @OIC_OCI @Abdulmane@ZahraniAbidi @LadyVelvet_HFQ @DrAlshoreka @AHMAD_ALWAHIDAH @majedalenzi @JamalBahrain@arabtimeskuwait @gulf_news @arabnews pic.twitter.com/MdOOBviNdU
— Zafarul-Islam Khan (@khan_zafarul) April 28, 2020
In the tweet, Dr Khan further stated that “Indian Muslims enjoy great goodwill in the Arab and Muslim world for their scholarship and service to Islamic causes over centuries. Until now Indian Muslims have chosen not to complain to the Arab and Muslim world about the situation in India but the day they choose to do so the bigots will face an avalanche.”
Hitting out at BJP leaders, Dr Khan said he has saved the country at many international forums but there comes a time when certain things have to be done.
“We haven’t complained yet but we can’t say this for the future. Muslims are being accused of spreading coronavirus and attacked in India. I have said nothing wrong and I will continue to speak against the bigots,” he added.
He also flagged the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)’s strong indictment of India in its latest report over the sharp fall in religious freedom in the country.
“ I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the media here that yesterday itself, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its report that religious freedoms in India deteriorated sharply last year as the government allowed “campaigns of harassment and violence” against Muslims and other religious minorities to continue. “
BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kohli has criticised Dr Khan for “inviting” foreign intervention in India’s internal affairs and questioned the Delhi AAP government’s stand on his comments. Kohli also slammed Dr Khan for taking the name of Dr Zakir Naik among honourable and influential Indian Muslims.
Issuing a clarification note, Dr Khan, who is well-known in the Arab World as a scholar and journalist, said he has not complained against the country to any foreign government.
“I have not complained against my country to any foreign government or organization nor do I intend to do so in future. I am a patriot to the core and I have always defended my country abroad. However, at the same time I have always been vocal about the problems in our country like any other country.”
“I have always defended my country in Arabic media and on channels like Al Jazeera where my defence of India during the Kargil War is still remembered by many in the Arab world. When Kuwait’s Al-Mujtama magazine asked me years ago to write about Indian Muslims’ viewpoint about Kashmir, the editor was shocked to see may article as it defended the Indian position and said that the Indian Muslims do not support secession of Kashmir from India. That article was published alongwith a rejoinder by a person in Pakistan and that was the last time I wrote for that magazine” he said.
He also underlined that Indian Muslims have never complained against their country to outside powers.
“I, like other Indian Muslims, believe in rule of law, the Indian Constitution and the fine institutions our country has.”
He also made clarification that he was not a member of Aam Aadmi Party and the DMC is a statutory and independent body not accountable to Delhi government.
“I must make it clear that I am not and never was a member of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Commission I head is a statutory and independent body governed by the Delhi Minorities Commission Act 1999. AAP or its government in Delhi do not run the Commission and are not accountable for what the Commission does.”
Dr Khan also came down heavily on some news channels which distorted his statements. A self-styled fastest channel hosted debate under banner, “Khaingey Yahan Kaa, aur gaiengey Arab kaa” (earns bread and butter here and sings paeans of Arab world).
“My views have been distorted on a few electronic media forums and many false statements/opinions have been attributed to me. I will take appropriate legal steps available to me against them,’ he added while stating that he stands by his tweet.