GUEST EDITORIAL: Oh, To Be A Muslim Minister in India!

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 04 September 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

Salman Khurshid
For some decades now both in the central government in New Delhi and in state governments the winning parties have assigned two or three ministerships to Muslims. Whether the ruling parties are the self-proclaimed champions of Muslims, namely Congress, Communists, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), or those who are unfriendly to Muslims, namely Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the same scenario is played out. Up until the time when Indira Gandhi was prime minister, the tradition was to give at least one important senior cabinet post to a long-serving loyalist Muslim leader of the party. Thus senior Muslim leaders in Congress like Hafiz Ibrahim (UP), Anwara Taimur and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad (Assam), Ghulam Rasul (Bihar) et al were made deputy chief ministers and given important ministries like Home or Finance or Industries. In Maharashtra, Indira Gandhi loyalist AR Antulay became chief minister. In 1989 when VP Singh became Prime Minister of India in a coalition government, he made Mufti Mohammad Saeed, the Home Minister of India

Other secular parties followed the same tradition. But the people who took charge of the secular parties after the late-1980s dispensed with that tradition. They relegated even loyalist Muslim leaders in their parties into a corner when they formed government. Thus in Narsimha Rao's Congress Party cabinet in New Delhi, Muslim leaders (Jafar Shareef, Ghulam Nabi Azad) were given only fringe ministries. In the last six years of the Congress/UPA government at the Center only 2 Muslims have been made cabinet ministers, namely Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azaad. The former is incharge of the environment ministry and the later is incharge of parliamentary affairs. Other Muslims who are long time loyalists have to contend with being ministers of state.

Although Congress Party won the last two elections largely with Muslim votes it has declined to give a senior ministry to any Muslim. Also Muslims who are made even insignificant ministers are long time faithful retainers who do not represent the Muslim community in any viable manner. In all their life people like Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azaad, Salman Khurshid have never said a word about the many hardships and travails of the long suffering Muslim community, have never taken any initiative to bring justice and fairplay to the much-suffering Muslims, and they have no support among the Muslims of India. Senior Congress Party leader and colleague of Indira Gandhi, Abdul Rahman Antulay, former chief minister of Maharashtra, was humiliated in the first UPA government when in 2005 he was first made minister for minorities. For over an year he, a cabinet rank minister, was neither given an office to work from nor a staff. He was told to work from home.

Mr Godbole, the Cabinet Secretary during the tenure of Prime Minister Narsimha Rao, writes in his autobiography that on December 6, 1992, the day Babri mosque was demolished, after the demolition was over, PM Rao held a meeting of cabinet ministers at night. In the meeting he asked each minister to give his views on the demolition of the mosque. When it was the turn of the then two Muslim cabinet ministers, Jafar Shareef and Ghulam Nabi Azad, they said nothing about the demolition. The only ministers who condemned the demolition were two secular Hindu ministers Scindia and Fotedar. This is how Muslim ministers behave on the most serious issues of the Muslim community. Recently in order to get a better ministry, minister of state for minorities Salman Khurshid tried to help Congress govt backtrack from its own pledge of implenting the Sachar Committee report by saying that it will ghettoize the Muslim community.

At about the same time the lower caste parties, namely Samajwadi Party of OBCs and Bahujan Samaj Party of Dalits in UP, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal party of OBCs in Bihar liberated themselves from the clutches of Congress party's deceptive games; formed their own parties, acquired power in the states and used it to uplift their respective backward minority communities.

But even the chief ministers of these parties, namely Mayawati, Mulyam Singh Yadav, Laloo Prasad did not give significant ministries to their top Muslim leaders. In Uttar Pradesh senior SP leader Azam Khan could get nothing better than Urban Development from Mulayam Singh. Also in the present BSP/Mayawati UP govt despite several senior and loyal Muslim community leaders, only one long time loyalist Naseem Ahmad Siddiqui was made cabinet minister with the insignificant portfolio of Environment. In Lallo's Bihar when some Muslims asked him why he does not have a senior Muslim minister to represent the Muslim community, he replied: I represent Muslims in the cabinet. In Bengal for 37 years under the Communist rule, Left parties who won repeated elections with Muslim votes, made only one or two Muslim ministers, and they were invariably given insignificant ministries.

The governments of various parties in India send the Muslim ministers routinely to Muslim countries to conduct public relations for the country and to demonstrate that in India Muslims are living very well and getting fair treatment. Or they are included in India's Haj delegation to Saudi Arabia, again to conduct public relations for India.

Gulam Nabi Azad
In the 2011 India, where Muslims have a sizeable voting strength in at least 6 major states (Assam, Bengal, Bihar, UP, AP, Kerala) no political party has made any of its loyal Muslim community leaders minister for Home, or Finance, or Industries or Education etc. Generally they end up getting the insignificant ministries of Waqf, Minorities, Haj, Culture, Urban Affairs, Environment etc. That is one more reason why despite Muslim ministers in the central or state governments, the Muslim community is as backward and static as it was 60 years ago. Cities and towns with sizeable Muslim population have very poor infrastructure, with hardly any new hospitals or schools or parks built since 1947. Of all those communal riots in the last 60 years hardly any of the tormentors and killers of Muslims have been brought to justice. The killers of the anti-Muslim genocide in Gujarat (2002) and in Mumbai (1993) are roaming free without any shadow of fear. The Muslim ministers who are supposed to bring up the grievances of their community keep their mouth shut and when given an opportunity to speak, they praise the government and senior ministers profusely. Sycophancy towards important ministers and maintaining distance from fellow Muslims appears to be the prime characteristic of almost all Muslim ministers.

In contrast the Dalit, OBC and Sikh ministers in the Congress, BJP, Communist government, who also represent backward and depressed communities, are always claiming and becoming ministers of important ministries eg Home, Finance, Industries, Education etc. When they become ministers they never hesitate in bringing development to the areas in cities where their communities live; they never hesitate to give jobs to people from their communities. In some states they have become chief ministers. In fact they conduct skilfull lobbying for their communities. The result is obvious; Dalit and OBC communities that were so backward and behind Muslims before 1947 are now significantly ahead of the Muslims and are continuing to climb the ladder. Since 1947 the Sikh community has become very affluent and well educated and their people are in important positions in the government.

So what use for the Muslim community are Muslims being ministers in either the Center or the states? Other than the fact that they may be making money for their families or peddling influence to get jobs for their sons and nephews in companies. Or that they give promises to the Muslim community on behalf of their respective party chiefs that mostly remain unfulfilled. Or that they campaign for the Muslim votes for their respective parties at election time.

[Kaleem Kawaja is a community activist in Washington DC. He can be reached on: kaleemkawaja@gmail.com]

BOOK REVIEW: The life & mission of Maulana Azad

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Shaikh Mujibur Rehman

There is a consensus that India has failed to build a nation of the kind the Gandhi-led freedom fighters dreamt of. In fact, nowadays, there is even talk of the need for a ‘second' freedom movement, and the reasons advanced cannot be dismissed as totally ill-founded. However, it will be naïve to belittle the contribution of the anti-colonial movement.

In this context, it is comforting that the book under review attempts to recall Maulana Azad's life and mission and bring out the relevance of his politics in the current situation. Contemporary Muslim politics needs to be understood as much from the political forces at play today as from the lives of iconic political figures such as Maulana Azad.

The Maulana's role in shaping India's anti-colonial movement was unique. Yet his legacy is progressively fading away from the national consciousness.

Owing to his less contentious personality, Azad is not as much a sought-after or written-about historic figure as Muhammad Ali Jinnah is. The fact is that so long as South Asian politics remains polarised between the ‘communal' and the ‘ secular' there will be invaluable lessons to learn from Maulana Azad's political leadership and his vision of a better world.

Undiminished Adulation

Rizwan Qaiser, it is clear, approaches the subject with great reverence and his adulation for Azad remains undiminished throughout. Viewed against this backdrop, the claim that, despite Partition, Azad was not a failure because he held steadfast to his ideological principle of secularism looks more like an emotion-driven, impulsive pronouncement than a reasoned political argument.

As in the case of his iconic contemporaries like Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Azad's contributions as a leader need to be assessed in terms of his tangible achievements in the political arena rather than purely on the basis of what he believed in — which perhaps could be an appropriate criterion for evaluating a philosopher. To an extent, the fact that these leaders could not defeat separatist politics and prevent the birth of a religion-based state (Pakistan) does reflect their weakness and shortcomings. This, however, is not to undervalue their greatness.

As it turned out, the ‘cost' of Partition has been much more than what was envisaged by its apologists and opponents at that time. As for Azad, during his years beyond the tragedy of Partition, he made a substantive contribution to the making of modern India, especially in the spheres of education and culture.

Shaping of Azad

The author gives an interesting insight into the shaping of Maulana Azad before he plunged into the anti-colonial movement. While the first chapter, covering the period 1906-18, delineates Azad's ideological evolution, the second (1919-22) explains how he tackled the dilemma between Pan-Islamism and Indian nationalism.

It needs to be noted that, in the early part of the 20th century, while Indian politics was deeply impacted by developments in the Muslim world, the anti-colonial movement was emerging on the ideological arena as a campaign very distinct from the patterns then prevailing in Muslim politics globally. Thus, the decision of the Maulana to take up the cause of India's independence was not as easy as it might appear in retrospect. For that and for proclaiming thereby his commitment to the cause of secularism, Azad merits special commendation.

The third chapter deals with the Maulana's role in the Indian National Congress from 1923 to 1934. When read together with the next chapter, one gets to know the kind of challenges he encountered from the separatist forces, and the strategies he employed to win over Muslims of varied social backgrounds in support of the ‘united India' concept.

These two chapters throw light on the divergence of views among historians on questions of fact as also on the Congress party's strategies during this period and how they influenced the nation's history. These debates, especially in the realm of academic research, remain inconclusive.

The concluding chapter deals mostly with Azad's stint as the Minister of Education, a portfolio that was apparently handpicked by Gandhiji as the most appropriate for him.

The book offers a very good account of the life and politics of a national leader, whose ideas and thoughts must be constantly brought up for serious discussion in the political and public arenas, particularly to emphasise that Islam stands for larger brotherhood encompassing different communities.

The book will be found useful by students of South Asian history and of Muslim politics.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

Telangana and the Muslim Question

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

The inclusive dream of Telangana would come to nothing in reality if minorities are once again denied their due space in the proposed state, writes Uddalak Mukherjee

I attended a conference in Hyderabad’s Press Club recently, where advocates of a separate Telangana had gathered to demand the deletion of Clause 14 (F) pertaining to the 1975 presidential order that had turned the city into a free zone for employment. Leaders of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti spoke fervently in Telugu, and their supporters, mostly students, responded enthusiastically with cries of “Jai Telangana”. But it was Professor Kodandaram — the convener of the Telangana Joint Action Committee with whom I discussed several key aspects of the movement later — speaking in a low but determined voice, who drew the biggest applause. What struck me as significant, however, was the absence of a Muslim face — student or leader — in the agitation. In his report, Justice B.N. Srikrishna had concluded that Muslims in Hyderabad — constituting 41 per cent of the city’s population — unlike Muslims elsewhere in Telangana were against the formation of a new state.

I had visited Hyderabad to ascertain the views of the sizeable Muslim community on Telangana and the reasons behind the duality of the Muslim response that the Srikrishna committee report alluded to. My decision to focus on Muslims had been influenced not only by their numerical strength but also because, in 1969, when the movement for Telangana was in its infancy, Muslims, who at that time comprised 39 per cent of Hyderabad’s population, had remained noncommittal, viewing the agitation as yet another expression of Hindu solidarity. The findings of the Srikrishna committee and the absence of Muslims in the press conference seemed to suggest that not much had changed since then. But in the course of my interactions with Muslim students, activists and political leaders over the next couple of days, many of which took place in parts of the ornate and timeless old city, the extent of the shift in Muslim attitudes towards Telangana started getting clearer. Analysing the premise of Muslim support for Telangana would, in my opinion, also illuminate other, broader aspects: the changing nature of movements for self-determination in India, the challenges such movements pose to the country’s federal structure; the cynical attempts on the part of the political class to appropriate, and then weaken, people’s movements, and so on.

Telangana’s underdevelopment, once blamed on the Nizam’s indifference to his subjects, in contrast to the prosperity of coastal Andhra Pradesh mirrors the discrimination and deprivation suffered by minorities in Andhra Pradesh. The conjunction would be better understood if one were to go through data pertaining to health, education and employment. There are 666 hospitals in coastal Andhra Pradesh and 270 in the 10 districts that make up Telangana. Telangana’s literacy rate is 30 per cent, as opposed to 42 per cent in Andhra; the latter has 26,800 schools while Telangana has 17,954. The Girglani commission report stated that two lakh government posts in Telangana are occupied by settlers from the coast.

How do Muslims fare on these three indices? Only 15 per cent of Muslims in the state have access to private clinics, an overwhelming 80 per cent depend on the cheaper, but poorly-managed, government hospitals. The Ranganath Mishra commission also noted that Muslims had the worst nutrition levels out of all communities. Literacy rate among Muslims is 19 per cent in a state where 60 out of every 100 people know the alphabet. Less than 3 per cent of Muslims held government jobs in 2009. In 1948, the figure was 41 per cent. The controversial sale of an estimated 1,60,000 acres of Waqf property, the demonization of Muslims during communal disturbances and the lack of State patronage for Urdu — 950 Urdu medium educational institutions have been closed since 1948 in Hyderabad alone — have strengthened the belief among Muslims that a separate Telangana state, where the proportional representation of Muslims would be, according to some estimates, 35 per cent higher than that in united Andhra, would help secure their social and economic interests.

To attribute the incorporation of Muslims in the Telangana movement to State apathy alone would be to obfuscate the remarkably inclusive nature of the movement itself. Activists and academics, who form the intellectual vanguard of the Telangana agitation, have played a key role in allaying Muslim insecurities about their future in a new state. Significantly, during their interaction with members of the Muslim community, leaders like Kodandaram seldom shied away from confronting the difficult questions that created ruptures in communal ties and contributed to Muslim aloofness. For instance, views were exchanged regarding the unfortunate silence that prevails over the atrocities perpetrated on Muslims during and after the “Police Action” in 1948 which forcibly united the Nizam’s dominions with independent India. The willingness to mend the faultlines of history through discussion and debate played a crucial role in winning Muslim support. Unlike other movements for self- determination — the Gorkhaland agitation in West Bengal, for instance — that have, allegedly, remained indifferent to the aspirations of peripheral communities, the campaign for Telangana seems to have succeeded in forging a loose confederacy comprising marginalized communities — Muslims, Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Tribes and even needy students — and is striving to be truly representative, and hence democratic, by nature. This synthesis among the dispossessed, ironically, signals a kind of social realignment brought about by a despairing acknowledgment of collective deprivation. Kodandaram described the mobilization as a fledgling attempt to retrieve a political ethic that got lost with the corruption of the political class. Dismissed as yet another socialist pipe dream by some sections of the establishment, it yet has the potential to alter India’s political landscape.

The Telangana movement serves as a model to review the linguistic underpinnings of India’s federal structure and also provides an opportunity to examine changes within identity politics. The states reorganization commission, set up under the stewardship of Justice Fazal Ali, had been driven by the contentious principle that cultural indices such as language propel unity among a people. But culture is also a complex, heterogeneous entity, and the fallacy of the principle of devising unity on the basis of a common language is aptly demonstrated by the peculiarities in Telangana’s ties with united Andhra Pradesh. Telugu is spoken in both regions, but people from the coast dismiss the Telugu spoken in Telangana as unrefined. The food eaten in Telangana is spicier, and local celebrations like Batukamma — the festival of flowers — have not found a place in the official calendar. Despite years of cohabitation, these cultural differences, augmented by the State’s preference of coastal cultural practices over those in Telangana, were amplified. But what explains the willingness of Muslims — who prefer Urdu over Telugu, dress and eat differently — to be integrated into a new state whose cultural identity and practices would remain different from theirs? Is identity politics then being increasingly driven by the demands of equitable development rather than by allegations of cultural prejudice? Is there then a case for altering India’s federal alignment by recognizing the legitimacy of the demand for smaller states which, though culturally diverse, would provide a better chance of a fairer distribution of critical resources?

The other question that Telangana forces us to consider is the distance that separates our political representatives from the people. The Srikrishna committee’s controversial claim that Muslims in Hyderabad are against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh may have been a result of its unwillingness to examine a cross-section of views because of political prerogatives. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, recognized as the political voice of Hyderabad’s Muslims, which allegedly derives much of its legitimacy from coercive tactics, had argued forcefully during its appearance before the Srikrishna committee that Muslims in the city are not in favour of a new state. This despite the fact that many Muslims — including an impressive number of women — had turned up on the occasion of ‘Telangana Garjana’. A number of Muslim welfare organizations, such as the Movement for Peace and Justice and the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, have also pledged their support to the cause. Most of the respondents confirmed the suspicion that the MIM’s view — which is diametrically opposed to those held by many ordinary Muslims — was an attempt to secure the lucrative business interests of the Owaisi clan which virtually owns the party. The difference between the responses of the party and those it claims to represent lays bare a frightening chasm that demolishes smug claims of India being an ideal democratic republic. A judicial committee, appointed by no less than the Central government to look into a complicated matter, but favouring the views of a dominant political party, only goes to show that many of the decisions and policies drafted in the name of the Indian people by the State are taken in accordance with the political prerogatives of the party in power. On my return to the hotel from the old city, I was amused to find the home minister pleading on television that the government respected the sanctity of independent bodies such as the Srikrishna committee.

This, however, is not to suggest that the Telangana movement is free of disturbing traits. There is a worrying absence of discussion and of structured roadmaps to fulfil many of its lofty promises — restoring the production of traditional goods such as textiles and grapes, plugging the gaps in the existing public distribution system, improvement of the educational status of minorities, and so on. The administration of an underdeveloped region as well as the protection of the interests of minority communities such as Muslims and tribal people pose significant challenges. At the moment, the emotive demand of statehood seems to have eclipsed the other challenges that lie ahead.

What is equally troubling is the infiltration of parochial sentiments in the rank and file. On an earlier occasion, Telangana activists had dismantled 12 statues of Telugu icons owing lineage to Andhra, throwing 11 of them into the the Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad. The taxi driver at the airport, originally from coastal Andhra, was disgusted with the unceasing disturbances — the frequent bandhs that robbed him of a day’s work — and equally candid about his fear of future persecution. His feelings, shared by many other settlers in Hyderabad, undermine the representative character of the movement that has made it unique.

What I remember most from my visit to Hyderabad are the lusty cheers that greeted, not the elected representatives from Telangana, but Professor Kodandaram. Many of the irate students that I spoke to recounted how some politicians in Telangana decided to throw their weight behind the movement only after they were humiliated or assaulted by ordinary people. The resorting to violence signifies an eagerness among citizens to shun enshrined democratic means — elections, for instance — to voice their demands. The violence may be construed as their disenchantment with the polity. But this dangerous disillusionment with a discredited political class also leaves the space open for yet another canny, avowedly apolitical, leadership — such as the one that called the shots from Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan recently — to take advantage of the vacuum and use people’s movements to secure narrow interests.

The Muslim question in relation to Telangana is crucial on many such counts. But foremost among them is the fact that it is a litmus test of the movement’s claims to being uniquely inclusive. Failure in this respect would suggest the collapse of yet another democratic dream under the weight of inner contradictions.

(Courtesy: The Telegraph)

Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism Mainstream and Moderate Attitudes

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,


As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, a comprehensive public opinion survey finds no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years. There also is no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans.

On the contrary, as found in the Pew Research Center’s 2007 survey, Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics surveyed this year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. And majorities of Muslim Americans express concern about the possible rise of Islamic extremism, both here and abroad.

A significant minority (21%) of Muslim Americans say there is a great deal (6%) or a fair amount (15%) of support for extremism in the Muslim American community. That is far below the proportion of the general public that sees at least a fair amount of support for extremism among U.S. Muslims (40%). And while about a quarter of the public (24%) thinks that Muslim support for extremism is increasing, just 4% of Muslims agree.

Many Muslims fault their own leaders for failing to challenge Islamic extremists. Nearly half (48%) say that Muslim leaders in the United States have not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremists; only about a third (34%) say Muslim leaders have done enough in challenging extremists. At the same time, 68% say that Muslim Americans themselves are cooperating as much as they should with law enforcement.

The survey of 1,033 Muslim Americans, conducted April 14-July 22 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that far more view the United States’ efforts to combat terrorism as sincere than did so in 2007. Currently, opinion is divided – 43% of Muslim Americans say U.S. efforts are a sincere attempt to reduce terrorism while 41% do not. Four years ago, during George Bush’s presidency, more than twice as many viewed U.S. anti-terrorism efforts as insincere rather than sincere (55% to 26%).

For Muslims in the United States, concerns about Islamic extremism coexist with the view that life for Muslim Americans in post-9/11 America is difficult in a number of ways. Significant numbers report being looked at with suspicion (28%), and being called offensive names (22%). And while 21% report being singled out by airport security, 13% say they have been singled out by other law enforcement. Overall, a 52% majority says that government anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims in the U.S. for increased surveillance and monitoring.

However, reports about such experiences and feelings of being subject to intense scrutiny have not changed substantially since 2007. Overall about the same percentage today as in 2007 say that life for Muslims in the U.S. has become more difficult since 9/11 (55% now, 53% in 2007). The percentage reporting they are bothered by their sense that Muslim Americans are being singled out for increased government surveillance also is no greater now than four years ago (38% bothered a lot or some today vs. 39% in 2007).

The controversies over the building of mosques in New York City and other parts of the country are resonating in the Muslim American community. Most Muslim Americans (81%) have heard about the proposal to build a mosque and Islamic center near the site of the World Trade Center and a clear majority of those who are aware of the planned mosque (72%) say it should be allowed. However, 35% say either that the project should not be allowed (20%), or that it should be permitted but is a bad idea (15%).

A quarter of Muslim Americans (25%) report that mosques or Islamic centers in their communities have been the target of controversy or outright hostility. While 14% report that there has been opposition to the building of a mosque or Islamic center in their community in the past few years, 15% say that a mosque or Islamic center in their community has been the target of vandalism or other hostile acts in the past 12 months.

Nonetheless, Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

At a personal level, most think that ordinary Americans are friendly (48%) or neutral (32%) toward Muslim Americans; relatively few (16%) believe the general public is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans. About two-thirds (66%) say that the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries.

Strikingly, Muslim Americans are far more satisfied with the way things are going in the country (56%) than is the general public (23%). Four years ago, Muslim Americans and the public rendered fairly similar judgments about the state of the nation (38% of Muslims vs. 32% of the general public were satisfied).

The current disparity may well reflect the fact that Muslim Americans are much more satisfied with the current political situation in the country than they were four years ago. Most Muslim Americans continue to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party and they overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. Fully 76% approve of Obama’s job performance; in 2007, about as many (69%) disapproved of George Bush’s job performance.

Support for Extremism Remains Negligible

As in 2007, very few Muslim Americans – just 1% – say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies; an additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances. Fully 81% say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are never justified.

A comparably small percentage of Muslim Americans express favorable views of al Qaeda – 2% very favorable and 3% somewhat favorable. And the current poll finds more Muslim Americans holding very unfavorable views of al Qaeda than in 2007 (70% vs. 58%).

There is much greater opposition to suicide bombing – and more highly negative views of al Qaeda – among Muslims in the United States than among Muslims in most of the seven predominantly Muslim countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. In the Palestinian territories, 68% of Muslims say suicide bombing and other forms of violence are at least sometimes justified, as do 35% of Muslims in Lebanon and 28% of those in Egypt.

In the other Muslim publics surveyed, the median percentage saying that suicide bombing and other violence against civilians are never justified is 55%; by contrast, 81% of Muslims in the U.S. say such violence is never justified. Similarly, the median percentage across the seven Muslim publics with very unfavorable views of al Qaeda is 38%, compared with 70% among Muslim Americans. (For more, see “U.S. Image in Pakistan Falls No Further Following bin Laden Killing,” June 21, 2011; “Muslim-Western Tensions Persist,” July 21, 2011.)

Opposition to violence is broadly shared by all segments of the Muslim American population, and there is no correlation between support for suicide bombing and measures of religiosity such as strong religious beliefs or mosque attendance. Yet opposition to extremism is more pronounced among some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others.

Overall, just 5% of Muslim Americans express even somewhat favorable opinions of al Qaeda. Yet hostility toward al Qaeda varies – 75% of foreign-born U.S. Muslims say they have a very unfavorable opinion of al Qaeda, compared with 62% of all native-born Muslims and 56% of native-born African American Muslims. However, the proportion of African American Muslims expressing very unfavorable opinions of al Qaeda has increased from 39% four years ago.

Perhaps relatedly, 40% of native-born African American Muslims believe that there is at least a fair amount of support for extremism among U.S. Muslims, compared with just 15% among foreign born Muslim Americans.

Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

A majority of Muslim Americans (56%) say that most Muslims who come to the U.S. want to adopt American customs and ways of life; just 20% say that Muslims in this country want to be distinct from the larger American society. In contrast, just a third (33%) of the general public believes that most Muslims in the U.S. today want to assimilate.

Moreover, only about half of U.S. Muslims (48%) say that most of their close friends are Muslims, and just 7% say that all their close friends are Muslims. These figures are little changed from 2007.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Muslim Americans endorse the idea that most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard; just 26% say hard work is no guarantee of success. Among the general public, somewhat fewer (62%) say that most people who work hard can get ahead.

U.S. Muslims are about as likely as other Americans to report household incomes of $100,000 or more (14% of Muslims, compared with 16% of all adults), and they express similar levels of satisfaction with their personal financial situation. Overall, 46% say they are in excellent or good shape financially; among the general public, 38% say this. Muslim Americans are as likely as the public overall to have graduated from college (26% of Muslims vs. 28% among the general public). Because as a group Muslim Americans are younger than the general public, twice as many report being currently enrolled in a college or university class (26% vs. 13%). Similar numbers of Muslim Americans and members of the general public report being self-employed or owning a small business (20% for Muslim Americans, 17% for the general public).

When it comes to many other aspects of American life, Muslim Americans look similar to the rest of the public. Comparable percentages say they watch entertainment television, follow professional or college sports, recycle household materials, and play video games. About one-in-three (33%) say they have worked with other people from their neighborhood to fix a problem or improve a condition in their community in the past 12 months, compared with 38% of the general public.

When asked to choose, nearly half of Muslims in the U.S. (49%) say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, while 26% see themselves first as an American; 18% volunteer that they are both. In a 2011 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 46% of Christians in the U.S. say they identify as Christian first while the same number identify as American first. White evangelicals are much more likely to identify first as Christian (70%).

The survey also finds that compared with Muslims elsewhere, Muslim Americans are more supportive of the role of women in society. Virtually all Muslim Americans (90%) agree that women should be able to work outside of the home. Most (68%) also think that there is no difference between men and women political leaders. These are not the prevailing views of Muslims in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

And on a key foreign policy issue, Muslim Americans are far more likely than Muslims in the Middle East to say that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of the Palestinians are addressed (62% say this; 20% disagree). In this regard, the views of Muslim Americans resemble those of the general public, among whom 67% say a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist while protecting the rights of the Palestinians; 12% disagree.

Who Are Muslim Americans?

A 63% majority of Muslim Americans are first-generation immigrants to the U.S., with 45% having arrived in the U.S. since 1990. More than a third of Muslim Americans (37%) were born in the U.S., including 15% who had at least one immigrant parent. Despite the sizable percentage of immigrants, 81% of Muslim Americans are citizens of the U.S., including 70% of those born outside the U.S. This is a much higher rate of citizenship among foreign-born Muslims than among the broader immigrant population in the U.S.; 47% of all foreign-born are citizens.

First-generation Muslim Americans come from a wide range of countries around the world. About four-in-ten (41%) are immigrants from the Middle East or North Africa, while about a quarter (26%) come from South Asian nations including Pakistan (14%), Bangladesh (5%) and India (3%). Others came to the U.S. from sub-Saharan Africa (11%), various countries in Europe (7%), Iran (5%), or other countries (9%).

Among the roughly one-in-five Muslim Americans whose parents also were born in the U.S., 59% are African Americans, including a sizable majority who have converted to Islam (69%). Overall, 13% of U.S. Muslims are African Americans whose parents were born in the United States.

A 55% majority of Muslim Americans are married, comparable to 54% among the U.S. general public. Most Muslim Americans (83%) are married to someone of their own faith, as is the case generally in the U.S. For example, among married U.S. Christians, 92% are married to a Christian.

Muslim Americans’ Political Attitudes

Muslim Americans have liberal attitudes on a number of current political issues. A substantial majority (68%) says they would rather have a larger government providing more services than a smaller government providing fewer services. That compares with 42% of the general public.

Most Muslim Americans (70%) either identify as Democrats (46%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%); just 11% identify with the Republican Party or lean toward the GOP.

Nearly half of Muslim Americans (48%) say they feel that the Republican Party is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans; just 15% say the party is friendly toward them. By contrast, 46% say the Democratic Party is friendly toward Muslim Americans, and 64% feel that way about Barack Obama. Among Muslim Americans who say they voted in 2008, an overwhelming 92% say they voted for Obama. In comparison, the 2007 survey found that 71% reported voting for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 election.

One issue on which Muslim Americans do not stand out as especially liberal is on societal acceptance of homosexuality. About as many Muslim Americans say homosexuality should be discouraged by society (45%) as accepted by society (39%). The general public, by a 58% to 33% margin, says that homosexuality should be accepted. Still, there is greater support for societal acceptance of homosexuality, among both U.S. Muslims and the public, than there was a few years ago. In 2007, Muslim Americans, by more than two-to-one (61% to 27%), said homosexuality should be discouraged.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Muslim Americans have a far more positive view of immigrants than does the public generally. About seven-in-ten (71%) say that immigrants today strengthen the country with their hard work and talents; just 22% say that immigrants are a burden because of their impact on the availability of jobs, housing and health care. The general public is evenly divided on this question; 45% say that immigrants strengthen the country, while 44% say immigrants are a burden.

Religious, But Not Dogmatic

Many Muslim Americans are highly religious: 69% say that religion is very important in their lives, and about half (47%) report at least weekly attendance at a mosque for prayer. Similarly, about half (48%) say they make all five salah prayers daily, and another 18% report making at least some salah daily.

By these measures, Muslims in the U.S. are about as religious as Christians in the United States: 70% of Christians say that religion is very important in their lives and 45% attend services at least weekly according to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Overwhelming numbers of Muslim Americans believe in Allah (96%), the Prophet Muhammad (96%) and the Day of Judgment (92%). Yet the survey finds that most reject a dogmatic approach to religion. Most Muslim Americans (57%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of Islam; far fewer (37%) say that there is only one true interpretation of Islam. Similarly, 56% of Muslim Americans say that many different religions can lead to eternal life; just 35% say that Islam is the one true faith that leads to eternal life.

In this respect, Muslim Americans differ from many of their counterparts in the Muslim world and are similar to U.S. Christians. In the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 28% of Christians said that there was only one way to interpret the teachings of their religion.

About the Muslim American Survey

The 2011 Muslim American Survey is based on telephone interviews conducted April 14-July 22, 2011 with 1,033 Muslims in the U.S. Interviews were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

The survey was conducted by landline telephones and cell phones, using a nationally representative random sample combining interviews from three sampling sources. (1) About a third (35%) of the interviews (358) were obtained from a geographically stratified random-digit-dial (RDD) sample of the general public, which entailed screening 41,689 households. (2) An additional 501 came from a commercial database of 113 million households, of which more than 600,000 included people with likely Muslim first names or surnames who also had a telephone number; Muslim households from this database were excluded from the geographically-stratified RDD sample but were included in a separate stratum as part of the general public RDD sample. (3) An additional 174 interviews were obtained by recontacting English-speaking Muslim households on landlines and cell phones from previous nationwide surveys conducted since 2007.

The results of all three sampling sources were combined and statistically adjusted to the demographic parameters of the Muslim population, as estimated by the results of the interviews from the geographically-stratified RDD and listed sample (excluding the recontact interviews). The margin of sampling error for results based on the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points. Details about the study’s sample design and the overall methodological approach are contained in the survey methodology. The study’s design was nearly identical to that used in the 2007 survey of Muslim Americans.

Read Full Details in Pew Research Centre Report

How to Make Lokpal Bill Effective – The Debate Continues

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

How to make Lokpal Bill effective was the theme of a debate competition for college students organized by a NGO ‘Nandini Voice for the Deprived’ on August, 13, 2011, in Chennai. The objective of the competition was to provide an opportunity to the college students to give their views on the subject.

Number of college students from several Chennai city colleges including Indian Institute of Technology Madras, School of Excellence in Law, JBAS College for Women, Loyola Institute of Business Administration participated in the debate competition.

This author, P. K. N. Panicker, President, Chemical Industries Association and educationist and N. L. Rajah, senior advocate, were the judges in the first panel. Prof. S. Radhakrishnan, Professor of Economics, S. M. Arasu, Founder, Anti Corruption Movement, Kris Dev, social activist, were the judges in the second panel. Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, N. S.Venkataraman moderated the debate.

Quite a few students argued that Lokpal Bill may not be necessary, since enough laws and regulations are in the country to root out corruption. The problem, they felt, was that those in power including politicians and bureaucrats circumvent the existing rules and regulations to indulge in corruption and prevent punishment for the corrupt persons.

Students wondered that Lokpal Bill if enacted into law, may also end up with the same fate as the several of the existing anti corruption regulations and institutions

At best, Lokpal may function like Central Vigilance Commission, so instead of enacting a new law, the Central Vigilance Commission can be strengthened in variety of ways, which would produce quick results and avoid protracted arguments and delay.

Some students felt that Lokpal is only likely to function as an advisory body, with no powers to punish the corrupt. Therefore, the Lokpal’s report has to be substantiated in the court of law and judiciary would ultimately decide the case. Therefore, there may not be really any change in the ground realities. So the students argued that Lokpal may function like Central Vigilance Commission, referring its conclusions to the court.

Most students said that the Lokpal Bill should cover all sections of the country irrespective of age and position including judiciary and defense. The present move of the government to restrict it to certain sections of bureaucracy alone will mean nothing.

Some students insisted that Prime Minister should be included in the Lokpal Bill. They dismissed the argument that the inclusion of Prime Minister will lead to vested interests, paving way for false charges against the Prime Minister to destabilize the government. The students said that instead of excluding the Prime Minister, Lokpal Bill can have certain built in safeguards to ensure that vague and false charges against the Prime minister would not be entertained.

There are multiple vigilance organizations today like CBI, CVC and others which sometimes work at cross purposes. Such organizations should be brought under Lokpal to ensure coordinated approach and transparency. This aspect should be examined by the government for its administrative feasibility.

Students suggested the selection process for Lokpal Chairman and members should be broad based. The nomination should be invited from public for Lokpal Committee members, just like nominations being invited for Nobel prize award and selection must be very strict and should not be left into the hands of politicians and judges.

While the students greatly applauded the initiatives of Anna Hazare and his team members, they pointed out that Anna Hazare is only aiming at forming some regulations at the government level by seeking to introduce one more law. Anna Hazare has not looked into the option of strengthening the existing anti corruption institutions by closing the loopholes in them which would produce quicker results.

There was an unanimity that the ultimate solution for the problem is to change in the mind set of the people. Many people in India are involved in corrupt practices and corruption is not restricted to politicians and bureaucrats alone. Some people in India think that the act of small corruption is not immoral and this mind set needs to be changed.

The students disagreed to the concept of second freedom struggle launched by Anna Hazare. They pointed out that the essential difference between the movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the movement initiated by Anna Hazare is, while Mahatma Gandhi led the freedom movement against the British, but simultaneously fought against several social evils such as caste system, untocuhability, liquor habit and strove to reform the individual Indians and their mind set, Anna Hazare movement lack the broad based approach.

The students felt that even now, it is not late and Anna Hazare should look back into his activities during the last one year and redirect the movement in appropriate direction, without giving an impression that mere change of laws will make India corruption free.

The debate had some very valuable inputs from the judges who commented on the issue of corruption and the aspects on the Lokpal bill. Their broad theme was in India; traditionally success is measured by the money accumulated by the individuals irrespective of the means adopted. This has resulted in a situation where corruption remains has permeated at all levels and in all sorts of activities. The public campaign against corruption should continue just like the anti liquor campaign and anti tobacco campaign.

The battle against the corruption must be fought in the minds and hearts of people and NGOs have a big role to play in this. The country should learn to hate the corrupt people which will happen only by millions of Indians not being corrupt in private and public life, was the ultimate conclusion of the debate.

The debate competition would further take place at Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai in September. The participating students would be awarded prizes during a meeting on October 1, 2011 the eve of Gandhi Jayanthi. The views expressed by the students would be forwarded to the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman for their consideration on the formulation of Lokpal bill.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a senior journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

Madhya Pradesh to become first state to offer air taxi services

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: A new chapter is going to be added to the tourism development sector of Madhya Pradesh. Air taxi service is going to be launched for the first time in the state.

The air taxi service will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan at 10 am on September 7 at Bhopal's Raja Bhoj Airport. With the launch of this air service, Madhya Pradesh will become the first state to offer air taxi services. In the first phase, this air service will be between Bhopal-Indore, Bhopal-Gwalior, Bhopal-Jabalpur, Indore-Gwalior and Indore-Jabalpur. Air taxis will fly between these cities in the morning and evening.

In the second phase, there will be daily flights between Gwalior-Jabalpur through which some more tourist destinations will be linked. These include Satna, Khajuraho, Pachmarhi, Vallabhgarh and Kanha.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has carved out its distinctive image in the country for tourist facilities. The air taxi service is being launched for the first time in the state as per the wish of Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan to promote tourism in the state through water, terrestrial and air routes. After introduction of this service, the passengers travelling between cities of Madhya Pradesh to accomplish essential works will be able to return to their destination the same day after completing their works.

Similarly, tourists will be able to reach various religious and tourist places near Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur quickly through this air service. Tourism activities can be promoted further at places like, Pench and Kanha-Kisli and Bandhavgarh National Parks near Jabalpur. Likewise, one will be able to reach Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) and Omkareshwar religious places near Indore quickly. Besides, tourists can also enjoy services of national and international flights from Indore.

Agreement for air service through private sector

The Tourism Corporation is undertaking works in new areas. In this context, the State Government took the initiative of introducing air connectivity through private sector between major cities of the state for giving a fillip to tourism in the state. Under the initiative, an agreement was signed by the State Tourism Corporation with private sector company Messrs. Ventura Air Connect Private Limited. The company has provided a nine-seater aircraft at Bhopal. Soon, another nine-seater plane will be added to this series. There is long geographical distance between Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur. Except Bhopal, there is High Court and its benches in rest of these major cities. Important offices of the State Government are situated in Bhopal. Apart from general passengers, tourists from India and abroad also require air services.

With a view to giving permanency to the air services, the State Government has made a provision in the agreement that maximum three seats in every sector will be underwritten if passengers are not available in adequate numbers. For this, they will be paid full fare and government officers will be able to undertake travel. The State Government will compensate for VAT on the aviation turbine fuel bought by the company in the state for five years.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Will USA/NATO attack Mecca?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

An attack on Mecca by the NATO terror forces is what all anti-Islamic minds aspire today and, unfortunately, the time seems to be on their side. The CIA controlled media seem to have molded the majority of Muslims also into such thinking. Saudi Arabia that permits - if not pushes - the notorious NATO to invade Muslim nations seems to consider Mecca and Medina major tourist spots for the Arab capitalists to make quick money. They do not care which money is being used for "pilgrimages" in performing Hajj and Umrah.

Some Muslims are satisfied with the tempo of NATO murders in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and and elsewhere but they are more restless than the notorious CIA nuts themselves are that NATO is unable to kill all Libyans in a go and take over Libya's vast oil fields. Many Muslims wonder why the Obama drones do snot kill every Pakistani and Afghani. This not the western sadistic pleasure but their natural desire to end Islam and embrace western liquor based and criminalized democracy. . .

There are quite a few Muslims in the world that want USA and NATO terror syndicates to attack entire Islamic world at the same time - or at least one after another as quickly as Hollywood movie theater begins next show - and kill every single Muslim of the globe.

By praising and promoting the NATO fascism and genocides of Muslims, these democratic Muslims, like the CIA rebel drunkards in occupied Libya are helping the invaders in loot and massacres of Muslims, are eagerly awaiting call from the CIA network in their respective country to get the “call” from their bosses!

Some Muslim agents even in Saudi Arabia want the NATO to attack Mecca and then proceed from there to entire Saudi Arabia and Mideast and - as CIA-rebels did in sovereign Libya - control all regional energy resources for exclusive use of the US-EU democracies.

Colonialism is returning to Africa and Mideast.

Will that be the finale of conquer of entire Muslim world and end of Islam?

When many Muslims worry about a possible scenario of Mecca being attached and controlled, the CIA/anti-Islamic agents among Muslims want that to happen sooner than later.

These Muslims are made to think by insane global media that they would be allowed to live longer than the world.

That is today's sample Muslim.

Should One Cry Loud Or Laugh Vigorously?

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism. He is Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA). He is former university Teacher, Analyst in International Affairs and an Expert on Middle East. He can be contacted at abdulruff@gmail.com]

Villagers living by building dwellings for years to be given pattas in Madhya Pradesh

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that the families living in villages since a long time by building dwellings will be given pattas. The State Government will undertake action on campaign footing after formulating a policy in this connection.

Mr. Chouhan has instructed collectors that no one should harass such persons. Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan was holding talks with collectors of Datia, Vidisha, Katni and Alirajpur through video-conferencing at his official residence today. He gave instructions for high-level investigation in view of mining in Katni. The investigation team will be sent from Bhopal.

He said that strict actions should be taken without any fear or prejudice against those found guilty of illegal mining. He apprised himself of land acquisition in Katni district. He said that the district administration should also monitor the process of acquisition of farmers' lands by industries. It should be ensured that farmers get proper price of their land.

Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan enquired about public problems from all the collectors. He instructed them to redress common man's problems sympathetically. He enquired about problems and suggestions of districts. He instructed to provide boat to Alirajpur district in connection with provision of necessary services to villages of submergence area.

The Chief Minister also reviewed progress of digitalization of maps, public distribution system, distribution of amounts for uniforms, availability of seeds and fertilisers for rabi season, Public Service Guarantee Law, organisation of Antyodaya Melas, distribution of wages under MNREGA, Atal Bal Arogya Mission, Sparsh Abhiyan, situation of law and order, Mukhyamantri Bal Hriday Upchar Yojna, Indore Awas Yojna, distribution of pattas under the state's scheme and under-construction works of the Revenue Department.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Inland Muslim woman's store caters to the fashionably modest

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By David Olson

Jamesa Nikeima thinks dressing modestly doesn't mean you have to wear boring clothes.

The Corona woman creates and sells clothing that adheres to rules and traditions of her Muslim faith but have fashionable designs, bright colors and whimsical flourishes.

"A (Muslim) sister once told me that Allah sets limits, but we can do anything within those limits," Nikiema said.

Her company, Rebirth of Chic, is one of a growing number targeted toward women who want to combine their American and Muslim identities in their clothes. Websites, stores, booths at Muslim events, blogs with names like "hijabulous" and magazines such as Muslimette cater to Muslim fashion.

Some Inland Muslim women's closets are filled with tie-dye skirts, ruffled-sleeve blouses and stylish-looking, body-covering swimwear.

Nikiema's clothes "don't look old-fashioned," said Rebirth of Chic customer Kadijah Dafney, 42, of Fontana. "They look elegant. Every time I wear them, people compliment me."

The Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed teach that women must cover their bodies, except for their faces, hands and feet, said Muzammil Siddiqi, a Garden Grove imam who chairs the Fiqh Council of North America, which advises Muslims on Islamic law.

The clothes must be loose-fitting to conceal the woman's figure.

But, Siddiqi said, "If she's covering properly, there's nothing wrong if she looks nice" and the intent is not to appeal sexually to men.

Not all Muslim women observe those rules, and some do so only partially, combining a hijab, or headscarf, with form-fitting jeans. Some Muslim scholars believe Islam does not require the covering of the body or the head, only general modesty that can vary by country, said Nushin Arbabzadah, a research scholar in women's studies at UCLA.

Nikeima said she doesn't feel constrained by rules on covering her body.

Far from a sign of the oppression of women -- as some critics view the rules -- Nikeima views modesty as liberation from the objectification and sexualizing of women.

"We're not pieces of produce on a shelf," Nikeima said as she sat in her small Corona showroom wearing a yellow balloon-sleeve blouse and a black French-designed skirt with white pinstripes. "We need to remember that clothes dignify you. Clothes raise your value. Taking off your clothes lowers your value."

Nikeima, 30, predicted the trend toward cool-looking modest clothes will balloon as the U.S.-born Muslim population increases.

"Not only are their kids totally American," she said of Muslim immigrants. "But their kids are having kids, so we're getting into the third and fourth generations."

There are about a half-million Muslims in this region, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Southern California.

Nikeima grew up Catholic, the daughter of a Salvadoran immigrant mother and African-American father. She long questioned Catholic beliefs and, after seeking to learn more about Islam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she began reading the Quran.

One day, while visiting a Muslim friend, Nikeima saw a Sudanese woman walking through an apartment-building parking lot with a long dress. Nikeima was struck by her dignity and gracefulness.

"In that instant, I felt naked," said Nikeima, who was wearing a miniskirt and halter top. "I was overly exposed. I just felt I should cover up."

After Nikeima converted to Islam, her Indian and Middle Eastern friends gave her traditional clothing from their homelands. But she longed for American-style modest clothes, and she couldn't find what she wanted. That led her to create Rebirth of Chic six years ago.

Not all her customers are Muslim. Rocio Gutierrez, 42, of Corona, is a Jehovah's Witness who likes wearing modest clothes from Rebirth of Chic when she attends religious services and events.

Nikeima designs some of the clothes, but most are also sold at department and specialty stores.

Yet customers like Dafney said they used to spend hours going store to store in malls to find modest clothes that were stylish but not too tight. Dafney said she hasn't bought clothes at the mall since she discovered Rebirth of Chic.

In the summer, it's especially difficult to find modest clothing, Nikeima said. Rebirth of Chic sells heavier hijabs for the winter and lighter ones for the summer.

Ashika Ayob's problem was finding modest swimwear for the beach and swimming pool.

She wanted to take her children for swimming lessons when they were infants but didn't because she couldn't find clothing she could wear in the pool.

Ayob tried wearing cotton sweatpants and long-sleeve shirts at the beach. They were fine on the sand but were uncomfortably heavy when she got in the water with her children, and they clung to her body, partially defeating the purpose of wearing modest clothes.

Then Ayob, 30, of Corona, discovered Huntington Beach-based Splashgear, which sells modest swimwear that is loose-fitting and doesn't cling. A cord on some items prevents water from lifting up clothing.

"Now I can go into the water with my 9-year-old," Ayob said. "He loves the boogie board, and now I can have fun with him."

Ayob also likes the stylish designs. In the past, fellow beachgoers stared at her because she was wearing sweatpants. Her Splashgear products look like wetsuits and don't stand out, Ayob said.

"It looks pretty cool," she said.

(Courtesy: The Press Enterprise)

Jamiat Ulema threatens Anna type agitation, government condones punishment to NCMEI

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 September 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

The threat of the president of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind Arshad Madni to launch an agitation at Ramlila Ground on the pattern of Anna Hazare clicked and before any call for the protest could be made public, the central government released the pending grant of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI). 

The funds of the commission were blocked by the nodal ministry just after its granting minority status to the central university Jamia Millia Islamia which was seen offending by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The ministry sanctioned the grant, which was pending for the last two months, to the NCMEI after the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh intervened in the matter.

NCMEI is a “quasi-judicial” commission which is bestowed with the powers and responsibilities of a Civil Court. The commission grants affiliation to minority educational institutions if the concerning bodies fail to do justice to them and found dally nailing on unacceptable pretexts. The NCMEI also has powers to suggest and recommend the Central government or the state governments on issues related to minority education or deprivation of the rights of the minorities in matters pertaining to education.

For the first time in seven years, the HRD Ministry has delayed the financial assistance to the NCMEI for the second quarter of the year. This delayed the payment of salaries to its employees. This has been seen by many as a punishment to the commission for its affiliation to Jamia Milllia Islamia as a minority university.

The union minster of state for agriculture and food processing Harish Rawat happened to meet Maulana Arshad Madni during Ramadan seeking his support to the government in Anna Hazare’s fast unto death on which the latter retorted that his own organization was going to launch a similar movement against the state-sponsored vendetta of minority educational institutions and those who support their cause, such the NCMEI. Rawat appraised the PM about his feeling and the apprehension of impeding complication for the government on which Dr Singh resolved to intervene.

The NCMEI Chairman Justice (Retired) MSA Siddiqui called on the Prime Minister on 31 August apprised him of the bottleneck being faced by the NCMEI. Consequently, the quarterly grant from the concerning ministry has been released yesterday to the commission.

It has become evident from many instances that the government, particularly the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is not prepared to allow the university a minority status. This is vindicated by the fact that not only the ministry preferred to intimidate the commission by delaying payments of its regular funds but also by not responding to the Supreme Court as regards the government stand on the issue of affiliation of Jamia Millia Islamia as a minority institution. An appeal is pending in the apex court against the Delhi High Court’s refusal to stay the NCMEI’s order of granting the institution a minority status a few months back, under the article 30(1) of the Indian Constitution which allows minorities to run education institutions of their choice.

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