The TMC MP Nusrat Jahan drew the ire of a Muslim cleric for offering Ashtami prayers and partaking in the traditional Dhaak at Kolkata’s prominent Suruchi Sangha Durga Puja in New Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal on Sunday. The cleric Mufti Azad Wasmi of the prominent Darul Uloom Deoband slammed the TMC MP for embracing Hindu traditions and grimly suggested her to change her religion instead of bringing disrepute to Islam. Soon after, he issued a fatwa against the newly elected TMC MP Nusrat Jahan for marrying outside her religion and wearing the Hindu adornments of a married woman like Sindoor and Mangalsutra. In fact, Congress supporter from Assam wanted Nusrat killed for being a “bad Muslim”.
As the Darul Uloom Deoband cleric issued a fatwa against the MP, various news channels started broadcasting the hatred directed at Nusrat Jahan for celebrating Durga Puja. However, this didn’t sit well with the controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai who proceeded to trivialise the hostility shown towards Nusrat by alleging that the underlying agenda of news channels debating over an ‘unknown’ Maulana’s comments against the TMC MP is nothing but Islamophobia.
Something seriously wrong with many news channels. An unknown Maulana makes a stupid remark on Trinamool MP #NusratJahan dancing at Pujo, and this becomes the ‘big debate’ of the day! Islamo-phobia is the perpetual agenda: real issues like economy, environment be damned!
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) October 7, 2019
Rajdeep alleged that the perpetual agenda of news channels showing an ‘unknown’ Maulana’s remarks on TMC MP Nusrat Jahan dancing at Pujo is Islamophobia while the real issues, according to him, such as economy, environment were ignored by such channels. It is interesting to note that Rajdeep likens expose of the Muslim cleric for his supremacist and bigoted opinions by various news channels to hidden Islamaphobia.
Darul Uloom Deoband is a prominent Islamic university in India which enjoys considerable sway over the Sunni Muslim population residing in the country. However, Rajdeep attempted to whitewash the bigotry displayed by one of the official clerics of the Darul Uloom Deoband by calling him an ‘unknown’ Maulana and thereby condoning his rants against the TMC MP. Instead of calling out the cleric for his fundamentalist and intolerant views, Rajdeep placed greater emphasis on his propaganda to disparage the news channels who had the temerity of exposing the cleric for his deeply problematic views.
Nusrat Jahan has found herself in the firing line of the Muslim fundamentalists ever since she got married to a Hindu Jain man. She was first targeted when Nusrat walked into the Parliament to take oath as an MP while wearing sindoor and bangles, traditionally worn by Hindu married women. Chauvinistic Muslims resorted to insulting her with bigoted comments online for apparently marrying outside her community. They also seemed unhappy about her embracing her husband’s culture in the Indian Parliament.
Dismissing a Muslim cleric as ‘unknown’ does not take away the fact that his opinions were soaked in bigotry against a Member of Parliament of the country for embracing and following Hindu traditions that millions in the country associate themselves with. It is also noteworthy that while the opinions of every Modi-supporter is considered the bane of Modi himself, a Congress supporter issuing death threats to Nusrat has been summarily ignored by the secular crowd. Exposing a bigot for his bigotry is not Islamophobia but it is an attempt to keep the cultural and pluralistic fabric of the country intact and untorn.