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In defense of Owaisi

Hindu nationalists may ridicule Asaduddin Owaisi with "next Jinnah" taunts, but the determined politician isn’t going anywhere. He is a proud Indian Muslim, considers "development with dignity" of the minorities his agenda and has no plans to campaign for another state.
So what is the problem? His faith! When in the world’s largest democracy, a political leader needs to repeatedly defend his nationalism because he belongs to a particular religion, we know the country is going to the dogs.
In October, Owaisi’s party, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) set foot outside its traditional bastion — Andhra Pradesh — into Maharashtra by winning two Assembly seats, with plans to expand in other states. Since then, all major parties, the media and the Twitterati have gone on a rampage against Owaisi, accusing him and his party of "religious polarization" and of doing the politics of fear-mongering among Muslims. Comparisons have been made between the AIMIM and Hindu "fringe elements" such as the notorious VHP and Bajrang Dal.
"I have never been against Hindu religion. I will never be against Hindus," Owaisi said in a recent interview. Yet, the Hindutva champions have decidedly set themselves up against a man who is today the most prominent Muslim face of politics.
If only hate speeches by a politician are the criteria to label his party communal, then the BJP should be handed over that distinction many times over, given the venom spat by its leaders against Muslims almost daily in the past few months.
On his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi’s alleged hate speech. Owaisi has maintained that the matter is subjudice and that he has full faith in the judiciary, much unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in a parliamentary speech almost absolved his minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s abusive remarks.
Why then this hypocrisy on the part of the media and others? Is it the ugly manifestation of Indianized Islamophobia?
The 2006 Sachar Committee report that studied the status of the community said, "Muslims are worse off than any other community, even the Musahar (low caste) Dalits, in terms of their socioeconomic condition."
When the Congress proposes a token reservation quota for the Muslims, it is accused of minority appeasement. The BJP is famously indifferent and even antagonistic to the Muslims. When Muslim leaders like Owaisi raise issues concerning the community, he is charged with playing "vote bank politics." What then are the Muslims to do? Are they to rely on jokers like Mulayam Singh who dons the skullcap to please Muslims but questions the necessity of a parliamentary debate on the recent forced conversions?
It is the BJP that is creating fear in the minds of Muslims. As such, Owaisi has made the community’s voice heard in Parliament, be it his powerful speech in the Lok Sabha refusing to view the 2002 Gujarat riots as a thing of the past or his demand for strict action against those responsible for the "homecoming" program in Agra.
His increasing popularity has ensured his presence in almost every TV debate that needs a real Muslim voice as opposed to the regular bunch of pseudo secularists who claim to speak for the Muslims.
The claim that the AIMIM is all about "Muslim politics" can easily be ripped apart, given the fact that five of the 24 candidates fielded by the party in Maharashtra were non-Muslims, four of them Dalits.
Owaisi, who seeks the empowerment of Muslims and other minorities within the framework of the constitution, does not need a nationalism certificate from the BJP or the Congress.
He claims credit for the relatively better socioeconomic condition of Muslims in Andhra Pradesh as reported by the Sachar Committee. Now that his foray into mainstream politics has only begun, Owaisi should be given a chance to prove his naysayers wrong by focusing on the uplift of the minorities with a focus on the principal minority. It is also time for all factions of the Muslim community to unite and strengthen Owaisi’s leadership.

In defense of Owaisi. Article: Afifa Jabeen Quraishi

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