Muslim leaders in West Bengal have criticised the fatwa against PM Narendra Modi by Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid. On January 7, the Muslim cleric had declared a reward of Rs 25 lakh to anyone who cut off the beard of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shaved his head and smeared him with ink.
While he made the declaration with TMC MP Idris Ali by his side, Siddiqullah Chowdhury, the party MLA from Mangalkot in Burdwan, talking to DNA on Monday said that it was a sign of immaturity. Referring to Barkati he said, “He is immature and has said these to be in the news. The statement has been made in bad taste and he has insulted the high chair of an imam.”
Different Muslim organisations too came down heavily against Barkati. Md Nooruddin, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said that the comments were dangerous and would help those who had indulged in polarisation politics. “An imam should be balanced in his views. He may have his political suggestions but he should not be issuing any fatwa like this. This will damage the reputation of Muslims and BJP will reap political dividend from it,” he told DNA.
Similar was the view of Md Kamruzaman, general secretary of All Bengal Minority Youth Federation. He said that the comments have hurt the sentiments of clerics across the state. “Imams from other districts have called me, expressing their concern and discomfort. They said they were feeling insulted. He is a religious leader and should not get into the political tug of war. The Prime Minister has been democratically elected and we must respect the chair,” he said.
Some, like Abdul Aziz, president, Milli Ittehad Parishad said that the state should take steps against such statements. “West Bengal government should also realise that these comments would be useful for communal elements. While we were criticising the statement made by BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for his statements, Barkati’s statements take a lot of wind out of that,” he said.
BJP leaders, naturally have reacted sharply to Barkati’s statement. “This is India and no place for such fatwas. He may go to Bangladesh or Pakistan. I believe he has done it under the instruction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. We have filed a police complaint. If there is no action by the cops we will hit the streets in protest and would also move the court against Barkati,” said party national secretary and former state BJP president Rahul Sinha.
Barkati, however, is unmoved in his speech and speaking to DNA said, “I have said the right thing. The Muslims who are criticising it are not brave enough to speak up against Modi.”