Even as the al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri announces the formation of its new Indian wing – Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fi’shibhi al-qarrat al-Hindiya – to ‘save’ Muslims, a big section of the followers of Islam in the sub-continent organised a massive rally in Lucknow on September 6 to condemn Islamic terrorism.
Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad Naqvi, a prominent Shia Muslim cleric and scholar, and also a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, gave the clarion call for a mass rally against Islamic terrorism and the heinous acts of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or now Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. The intent was to give an image makeover to Muslims across the world, which the leader feels has got tarnished and maligned due to terror activities by Islamic extremists in the name of ‘Jihad’ in Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, including India.
The mass rally at Imambada in Lucknow witnessed a huge gathering from across the country, with representations from Mahamandleshwar of Haridwar, UP Sikh Pratinidhi Sabha, Ajmer Sharif, Christian committee to name a few. “These ISIS or al-Qaeda terrorists identify themselves as Muslims and claim to be followers of Islam, but their actions are just opposite to the tenets of Islam. Islam never advocates killing of innocents without any cause. Rather it says if you save a life, you save Islam,” said Syed Kalbe Jawad Naqvi, a revered figure amongst the Shiites. The announcement made by the al-Qaeda has not only raised concerns for the country’s internal security, it has also put the Indian Muslims in an embarrassing situation.
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“This announcement by al-Qaeda will encourage terrorism in India, and attract many youth to join the outfit, like some youngsters who left India to join the IS in Iraq,” Naqvi further added. The rally was not limited to Shias; it was attended by Sunni, Hindu, Sikh and Christian religion leaders from across the country.
“The aim of the rally was to strongly condemn Islamic terrorism in every country in the name of Jihad, including in India, which is bringing a bad name to Islam, and will eventually see Muslims getting ostracised in every country,” said Aslam Ali, representing Majlise Ulma-e-Hind.
To keep the rally non-controversial, the organisers made it clear that it was not against any individual, political party or nation but against growing global terrorism. During the conference, which was headed by Maulana Syed Kalbe Naqvi, discussions took place on global Islamic terrorism and its ill effects on India. Special pledge was taken to safeguard the Shia shrines in Karbala from the onslaught of IS terrorist. It’s a welcome step to see Muslims openly coming out to condemn Islamic terrorism. Unless, pressure is created against this monstrous menace, terrorism will continue spreading its tentacles into the Indian soil. Like al Qaeda is planning to do now. The creation of the group called “Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent” was announced by As Sahab, al-Qaeda's official media outlet, in a video posted on social media sites including YouTube.
Al-Qaeda is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the group's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has said that 'Qaedat al-Jihad' would take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the US remains committed in its resolution to dismantle al-Qaeda and ensure it never again poses a threat to the American people
After the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, co-operation between the US and India on counter-terrorism issues has also increased significantly. Infact, this issue is expected to be one of the key topics of discussion between the two countries when Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Washington later this month to meet President Barack Obama.
Debobrat Ghose (The writer is Delhi-based journalist, who writes on various national issues)