We have now established that Shaheen Bagh protests which have been peddled as ‘organic’ protests’ are far from it. However, social media profiles of some of the organisers and participants reveal a more hateful and disturbing trend.
Here is a post by one Sharjeel Azhar who believes in sending anyone who ‘puts a hand on you’ to the ‘cemetery’. While it is a quote by American politician Malcolm X, Azhar believes it is not just a graffiti, but a ‘code to live by’.
When someone tried to point it out to him that violence may not be the best way to put across your point, Azhar tried to compare violent rioters to ‘self defence’.
In one of his posts, Sharjeel Azhar has urged non-Muslims to come out and protest in non-Muslim areas as only ‘attendance’ in protests such as Shaheen Bagh isn’t enough. He urges Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to stand in solidarity with the protestors.
And one Shariq A joins him in discussing how Kejriwal is not joining the protests because he would appear ‘pro-Muslim’ and that might upset the majority. For Arvind Kejriwal, it is more important to win Delhi than to appear ‘pro-Muslim’ as per the above conversation.
There are more such posts where asserting religious identity of the protestors is more important than the protests. This when the Citizenship Amendment Act, the one which they are protesting against, does not affect the protestors in any way. But the more you read such posts on social media, the more you realise that the anger is more about the Ayodhya verdict than the CAA.
There are more.
Reached late for for the protest. Could barely stand w/ the migraine. An old Chicha smilied & said:
“Beta, pehle Mandir kiya aur abhi CAA. Abhi 370 kiya na? Sab wahi hai. Khud ke kaghaz nahin aur humaare chahiye. Fikr nahin karo. Phiraun yaad hai?”
Chicha ka confidence.
— Sidrah (@SidrahDP) January 19, 2020
While many such conversations of cab drivers and protestors appear imaginary, even if the above conversation is imaginary, it just shows that the anger of these ‘protestors’ is currently stemming from the Ayodhya verdict. Sharjeel Imam, the JNU student who gave the hateful speech outside Jamia campus on December 14th 2019, a day before the violence broke out, also wanted to hold a ‘burning constitution’ ceremony over Ayodhya verdict.
Sharjeel has been one of the coordinators of the Shaheen Bagh protests which have been widely circulated as organic protests. Moreover, these protests are also being referred to as ‘anti-CAA’ protests, while they are more likely a way to show their anger against the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict.
So from what it appears, the anger of Shaheen Bagh ‘protestors’ is because of the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict and since they were not able to show it back then, the passage of CAA provided the platform because of misinformation and fear-mongering that has been spread across social media as well as mainstream media. These anti-CAA protests initially did get support from the ‘seculars’ who felt that there should be no religious discrimination. However, when the ‘protestors’ started making it about Islam with their ‘La ilaha Ilallah’ (there is no god but Allah) slogans, the ‘seculars’ started distancing themselves. Shashi Tharoor was also attacked by the radicals when he cautioned that using such slogans may make it more about Islam than about equality. Anti-CAA protests stopped being ‘secular’ once a religion started asserting its identity.
Now, the same ‘protestors’ who have been angry and ready to burn down constitution over Ram Janmabhoomi verdict, are insisting that the protestors be identified by their religion as it is far more important to be a Muslim protestor than a ‘secular’ protestor.
Secularism may be all about seeing all religions equally, but if you are a Muslim, then you are Muslim first, ‘secular’ later.