India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on Tuesday put the blame of Indian Muslims cheering for Taliban on ‘rising Hindutva forces’. He was interacting with Bollywood entertainer Naseeruddin Shah who had recently released a video cautioning Indian Muslims against cheering for Taliban after the Islamist group took over Afghanistan.
“There is a section of Muslims in this country who feel they have been pushed on the ‘backfoot’ by the rising ‘Hindutva’ forces in the country so when they see Taliban taking on Western powers in Afghanistan perhaps they seem to identify with the Taliban seeing this as a war against Islam,” alleged Sardesai.
The statements were made by Sardesai after Shah clarified in an India Today interview that his comments on Indian Muslims celebrating the Taliban’s return in Afghanistan were only about a section of backward people in the country and not the entire community.
However, Naseeruddin Shah also claimed that the reason why a section of Muslims is cheering the Taliban’s takeover is because ‘they feel they need vengeance for attacks on them.’
“Maybe I made a mistake by not speaking clearly enough and clarifying that I didn’t mean the entire Muslim community, which is how it’s being interpreted by interested parties,” Shah justified himself after facing a huge backlash from his community on talking about reforms.
“Muslims are demonized enough”
Toeing in line with Sardesai’s “we the victims” narrative, Shah further said that he had no intentions to ‘vilify’ the community that is already ‘demonized.’
“At this time, Muslims are already being demonized enough when in several instances their livelihoods are being threatened, their lives are sometimes in danger, they are being attacked and openly vilified. (There are) several right-wing Hindu preachers – who have said absolutely offensive statements propagating violence against the Muslims,” alleged Shah.
“This was perhaps an inopportune time to say this, but what other time could I have said this? I didn’t intend to add to the demonization of the Muslim community. Am I an idiot that I will demonize my own community and include myself in it?” he said further in a bid to save himself from further outrage by his community.
“Islam needs reforms”
Shah landed up in a controversy after he released a monologue where he condemned the one rejoicing the return of the Taliban and said, “(they) should question themselves if they want to reform their religion or live with the old barbarism”.
Shah, reportedly, was taken aback by the intense reaction from his community slamming him for ‘maligning’ Islam. To join the condemnation wagon were Saba Naqvi and Rifat Jawaid who seemed rattled at the thought of disapproving the Taliban.
Shah justifies ‘Indian Islam’ claim
The 71-year-old actor was also thrashed for using the phrase ‘Indian Islam.’ Justifying the same in the interview, Shah claimed, “Indian Islam doesn’t follow the middle eastern Sharia laws. There is no amputation of arms of thieves. We don’t suppress women’s rights; we don’t make women cover their head to toe in a hideous burqa-like garment; we don’t stone adulteresses.”
“Women are not denied an education or their right to work They are allowed in public life. Indian Islam has given the richest poetry, art, literature and music. Indian Islam has been represented by secular saints like Nizamuddin Auliya and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti – that is what I was implying,” he said adding that he did not call ‘Indian Islam’ a separate entity.
Shah further went on to say how the Indian Muslims are indeed persecuted in India and slammed Hindus ‘for playing the victim.’ He also dismissed the reality of ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotics jihad’ calling it a far-right conspiracy.