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Muslim Groups Slam Ayman Al Zawahiri’s Bid to Meddle in Hijab Row

The row over headscarves has sparked countrywide protests

NEW DELHI –  After an alleged video released by Al Qaeda Chief Ayman Al Zawahiri praising college student Muskaan Zainab Khan, Muslim organisations and religious leaders across the country have slammed Al Qaeda.

“It is an internal matter of India, we do not need any advice from such an organisation,” they said.

Muskan, a college student from Mandya district of Karnataka, had emerged as a prominent face during the hijab controversy.

Commenting on Zawahiri and Al Qaeda, one of the world’s largest terrorist organisations, Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief of the All India Imam Organisation, said, “We distance ourselves from the statement of Al Qaeda, hijab is our internal matter. We will sort the matter amicably among ourselves. These are all external forces who want to spread communal hatred within the country. It wants to create a conflict in the country so we don’t need Al Qaeda’s advice.

“This is our country and external forces like (Al Qaeda) is showing sympathy for us, this is not sympathy at all but is harmful for the Muslim community. Such an organisation is the enemy of humanity and is hatching conspiracies to break up the country,” he added.

Ilyasi also said, “I want to appeal to everyone from the Muslim society that these organisations are coming out from their rat holes and praising us. They only want to harm the Muslim community. Do not fall under the instigation of such external organisations, we must stand united with the country.”

Ayman Al Zawahiri has been considered close to deceased terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Zawahiri took over the reins of Al Qaeda after Laden was killed in a US drone attack in 2011.

Earlier, in 2020, several news reports had spread about Zawahiri that he had died or had fallen severly ill. The Al Qaeda Chief had recently released a nine-minute video in praise of Muskaan.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has now ordered an inquiry regarding the video released by Zawahiri.

Although Muskaan’s father Mohammad Hussain Khan, had distanced himself from the alleged video of Zawahiri even before Muslim organisations condemned the Al Qaeda’s statement.

Khan had said in one of his statements that: “He had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. He does not even know who Zawahiri is. Muslims don’t need his praise. We are happy living in India.”

Mohammad Salim Engineer, Vice-President of Muslim organisation Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, commented on Al Qaeda, saying, “The hijab issue is a sensitive one and is related to us. Muskaan is being praised for whatever happened in Karnataka. If such an organisation has commented on our country, it must be dealt with sensitivity. Anyone can appreciate us but it is an internal matter of our country and there is no need for any foreign organisation to interfere in it.”

“Those who want to take political advantage by raising such issues, only want it to remain festering as long as possible. The issue of hijab has not been raised for the first time, children have been wearing it since the beginning.”

Navaid Hamid, President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), said, “How much the Al Qaeda and Al Zawahiri have to do with Islam can be seen from the fact that they have killed Muslims in the Middle East and Afghanistan. It is a political stunt and after a long time there has been a statement released from their side.”

“It is not even known whether Zawahiri is alive or not because it is reported that he has been allegedly killed. Even if he is alive, Muslims like us want to say that the Indian Muslims have the ability to resolve their issues and we don’t need nor endorse the interference of any terrorist.”

“Muslims of India consider Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation. As far as their sympathising with India is concerned, it is not sympathy at all. But the forces which follow their ideology residing in India are creating Islamophobia.”

Apart from several Muslim organisations, Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi, said, “We did not tell him (Zawahiri) to praise us, we have nothing to do with him. Everyone is praising Muskaan as everyone appreciates good work. We are not doing anything illegal.”

The Karnataka High Court has already given its verdict on the hijab row which has been challenged before the Supreme Court. The full bench of the HC in a 129-page judgment cited verses from the Quran and several Islamic texts and based on these quotes, the court had said that hijab was not a mandatory practice in Islam. -IANS

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