After Gujarat Police secured a two-day remand of Islamic preacher Mufti Salman Azhari from a Mumbai Court in connection with an alleged hate speech case several Islamists gathered outside the police station demanding his release. The police had sought Azhari’s remand on Sunday (February 4) evening, which was granted by the Mumbai Court, allowing them to transfer him to Junagadh for further investigation.
Azhari’s lawyer, Arif Siddiqui, contested the police’s application for transit remand, citing irregularities in the legal process. He stated, “He has been sent to a 2-day transit remand. We have been told that he will be taken to Junagadh (Gujarat).”
Arrest and Public Response
Earlier on the same day, a team from Gujarat police apprehended Mufti Salman Azhari in Mumbai regarding the alleged hate speech investigation. The arrest prompted a gathering outside the Ghatkopar Police Station, demanding his release. However, the Mumbai Police assured the public of maintaining peace in the area.
Their actions disrupted traffic and caused chaos in the vicinity as they vehemently demanded Azhari’s immediate release. Azhari’s advocate, Vahid Shaikh, hinted at potential repercussions, insinuating that failure on the part of the police to adhere to their duties could escalate the situation.
BREAKING: Mufti Salman Azhari, an anti-Hindu Islamic cleric, was arrested today in Mumbai by the Gujarat ATS for delivering an anti-Hindu terror speech.
Now, Muslim mob over 1000 individuals have surrounded Ghatkopar police station in Mumbai, demanding his release while… pic.twitter.com/Obe4FBloJO
— Ashwini Shrivastava (@AshwiniSahaya) February 4, 2024
“In Mumbai, there is peace; the Ghatkopar area is also peaceful. Don’t believe any rumours. I want to tell the people of Mumbai that, for them, Police are on the road,” said DCP Hemrajsingh Rajput.
Reactions and Legal Defense
Waris Pathan, the National spokesperson of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, advocated for Azhari, asserting that he did not deliver any provocative speech and deserved justice. Meanwhile, Azhari’s lawyer, Wahid Sheikh, criticised the legality of his detention, claiming it was without proper notice and urged police cooperation.
Context and Allegations
The controversy surrounding Mufti Salman Azhari stemmed from a viral video featuring an inflammatory speech allegedly made by him. The speech, delivered at an event near the ‘B’ division police station in Junagadh, led to legal action. Azhari, however, urged his supporters not to protest, asserting his cooperation with authorities.
During a gathering on January 31 at the Narayan Vidya Mandir near the Junagadh court, Mufti Salman Azhari delivered a contentious speech attended by a significant number of Muslims. In the video footage, Azhari can be heard making incendiary remarks, stating, “Abhi to karbala ka akhiri maidan baqi hai…Kuch der ki khamoshi hai, fir shore ayega… Aaj kutton ka wakt hai, kal hamara daur ayega,” which translates to “The final battle of Karbala is yet to come… a moment of silence, then there will be noise again. Today is the time of the dogs, tomorrow will be our time.” Following this statement, he led the crowd in chanting “Labbek Ya Rasulullah.”
“Hindus are dogs, it’s their time but our time will also come”
-Islamic leader Mufti Salman Azhari openly threatens Hindus for consequences pic.twitter.com/cVR5enjZZF
— Organiser Weekly (@eOrganiser) February 2, 2024
Organisers of the event, including Muhammad Yusuf Malek, Azim Habib Odedara, and Mufti Salman Azhari, have been accused in the FIR, with charges filed against them under Sections 153(C), 505(2), 188, and 114 of the IPC.
Online Support and Misinterpretation
Following Azhari’s arrest, several individuals, including self-proclaimed journalists, rallied support for him online, claiming he was falsely implicated. However, they selectively interpreted his speech, ignoring derogatory references made towards Hindus. Azhari’s controversial remarks and subsequent arrest have sparked debates regarding freedom of speech and religious tolerance.
One Ashraf Hussain wrote, “Mufti Salman Azhari has said that he is not a criminal. Whatever will happen,it will happen for good. Inshallah. #ReleaseSalmanAzhari #IStandWithSalmanAzhari”
मुफ्ती सलमान अजहरी ने कहा ‘मैं कोई क्रिमिनल नहीं हूँ.
— Ashraf Hussain (@AshrafFem) February 4, 2024
Radical Islamist Mohammed Asif Khan, masquerading as a ‘journalist’, claimed that Salman Azhar has been the victim of a ‘smear campaign’ of the BJP IT Cell.
He alleged, “Mufti Sahab’s team must file a case against those IT Cell trolls who intentionally cropped his video and posted with misleading claim.#ReleaseSalmanAzhari #IStandWithSalmanAzhari”
Mufti Sahab’s team must file a case against those IT Cell trolls who intentionally cropped his video and posted with misleading claim.#ReleaseSalmanAzhari#IStandWithSalmanAzhari pic.twitter.com/geHXanLvU7
— Md Asif Khan (@imMAK02) February 4, 2024
Many such posts are available on the internet, supporting the Islamic preacher.