The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Maulana Ahmed Bukhari, never minds communalizing any given issue on a day. The man, who often comes to the headlines for making controversial comments, recently took a dig at the Uttar Pradesh government, terming the latter as ‘anti-Muslim'.
The reason: Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav offered government support for all medical expenses of the Delhi gangrape victim, who recently passed away at a Singapore hospital after battling for life for almost two weeks. Bukhari's concern was that no such aid is ever given to the Muslim rape victims in the state.
Communalising rape: Just this was left to be done
Bukhari's comment shocks us. Has the time come for us to classify even rape victims to be Hindus and Muslims? What modernity do we talk about if a person occupying the post of Shahi Imam speaks in such utterly condemnable terms?
It was even surprising to see Bukhari himself donning the mantle of secularism while speaking on the issue of women's safety. He said, "It stands clear that security and safety can be provided to women in India only when our response to such incidents is not seen through a lens that classifies crime on the grounds of religion, caste or social status."
Bukhari's pseudo-secular position proved yet again how the much-boasted secularism in this country is often abused to actually promote narrow communal thoughts.
Bukharis' opportunism a danger for the society
The problem with people like Bukhari is that they always look for opportunity to make themselves relevant, even if in reality they do not deserve any prominence. These people are made all the relevant by political parties that continuously woo minority vote-banks.
It was the same Bukhari who had appealed to the Muslim community to vote for the SP and the latter also pampered him to reap electoral benefits.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav even did not care to alienate with close supporter Azam Khan, with whom Bukhari had an open spat. But within months after the SP came to power in the state, Bukhari started slamming it for allegedly failing to curb communal violence. This is the problem of populist politics. It never succeeds to satisfy all for it always fuels the expectation.
Bukhari criticised some of the Muslim leaders in the SP, saying they did not protest against the injustice meted out to the minority community for they were only concerned about their vested interests.
Bukhari's world view is as narrow as his communal view
If it is indeed so, then why did Bukhari back the SP before the polls? Is he himself looking after his own interest in the name of safeguarding the Muslims' interest? We never hear him speaking for those several thousands of innocent Muslims who are being butchered everyday in Syria? Is his world view as narrow as his communal view?
According to a SP leader, Bukhari's ego was hurt for his aim of intervening in the regular business of governance following the polls was not fulfilled. The failure made him vent out his frustration and now it seems he is ready even to communalise social problems like crime against women to gain a political upper hand.
Shabana Azmi said it rightly
More than a decade ago, actor-turned-politician Shabana Azmi said: "...Imam Bukhari has shown what he actually is." This was her reaction after the Imam described her in objectionable words because Azmi criticized him for supporting the Taliban and Osama bin laden in the wake of 9/11 and the US retaliation against the terrorists.
Azmi had challenged people like Bukhari who proclaimed themselves as the representative of the entire Muslim community and said it was important that the intelligentsia from that community also get an opportunity to express their viewpoints.
The politician said: "He's (Bukhari) only in a position that he has appropriated for himself. He is only the man who leads the call for prayer at the jama masjid. Take him out of there and does he have the same voice?"
True indeed. People like Bukhari should not be given importance just because they hold an institutionalized position.
They only bank on meaningless tokenism as a means to improve their community's condition. They make every issue under the sun a communal one, whether it is a movement against corruption or ghastly crime like rape. They want to revive the dangerous trend of communal electorate.
If they really aspire to give a direction to their community and society at large, the Bukharis must first learn what a common individual needs for a minimum living. Serving their selfish interests won't secure the dignity of a Muslim woman.
Mr Bukhari, why don't you learn things in the right way?