Muslims banned from access to Friday prayer sites in Gurgaon, India | Islamophobia News
Every Friday, Najis Mohammad offered his afternoon prayers on public land near his barber shop in Gurugram, still popular under its old name Gurgaon – a satellite town on the outskirts of India’s capital, New Delhi.
This Friday, however, he has nowhere to go. âToday I am not sure I can offer namaz anywhere,â he told Al Jazeera.
Reason: Right-wing Hindu groups had erected large tents to perform a religious function on the same land in Sector 12A of the city that Nazim prayed to every Friday.
The event brought together a number of Hindu politicians and priests, including Kapil Mishra, who belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Mishra, 40, is accused of inciting religious violence in New Delhi last year – the worst the city has seen in decades – in which 53 people, mostly Muslims, were killed .
Permission for Muslim prayers revoked
Friday’s event came days after officials in the northern Indian state of Haryana revoked permission to offer congregational prayers on Friday at eight of 37 public grounds by Gurugram.
“Permission to offer prayers at eight previously identified sites has been revoked,” Gurugram police said in a statement on Tuesday. He added that if objections were raised by residents in other places, “the authorization to offer prayers will also be canceled there.”
The police move followed a week-long campaign by Hindu groups and local residents who disrupted Friday prayers at these sites by playing religious chants over loudspeakers and throwing hate slogans.
A coordinating group of Hindu groups, called the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti (Joint Hindu Struggle Committee), even issued an “ultimatum” to the authorities, claiming that they would stop Muslim prayers themselves if the Gurugram administration did not. did not.
âWe are giving a polite warning. We will no longer be submitting memorandums. It will then be the administration’s responsibility to keep the peace, not ours, âthe Indian Express newspaper said last week, citing Mahavir Bhardwaj, the group’s Haryana state president.
“We are ready for lathis [sticks], we are ready to go to jail. We will not run if we are shot at, but it will not be tolerated.
– Pavneet Singh Chadha ð¾ (@pub_neat) November 5, 2021
A 2018 report from the news website Scroll.in said there were 22 mosques in Gurugram, which are home to 1.1 million people, according to the 2011 census. Less than 5% of them are Muslims. .
“There is no mosque nearby where we can go and offer our Jumah [Friday] pray. The neighboring mosque is almost 4 kilometers away, âNajis told Al Jazeera.
In a press release shared with Al Jazeera, a group called the Muslim Community of Gurgaon said it had “decided not to offer” Friday Prayers on the ground in Sector 12A “just for this week” because of ” vigilance groups “organize” Govardhan Puja [prayers]” at the same place.
“[Muslim prayers] will perform at the rest of the 36 locations as they did before. It is the duty of the administration and the police to ensure that public order is maintained, âhe declared.
The statement urges Muslims “who are forced [to go] to those open sites due to the lack of mosques in Gurgaon “to show” restraint and move away in case troublemakers try to provoke or disrupt the namaz at the remaining 36 sites. “
âThe Muslim community of Gurgaon stands for peace and friendship and will do everything in their power to ensure that community harmony prevails in the city.
Parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi said the Gurugram administration’s decision to ban Friday prayers on certain sites violated Article 25 of the Indian constitution which guarantees Indian citizens the freedom to profess, practice and propagate their religion. religion.
“How is it that practicing my religion or offering my Jumah namaz [Friday prayers] once a week for 15-20 minutes hurts someone? He told Al Jazeera.
âThis is a clear example of the radicalization of these so-called protesters. This is a clear example of their hatred for Muslims.
Statement by Amit Shah
Last week, Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah, at the launch of the BJP’s election campaign in northern Uttarakhand state, said the main opposition party had pursued a “policy of appeasement âby authorizing Muslim prayers on the roads.
âEarlier when I came here during the congressional government, some people told me that the government cleared the highways for namaz on Friday. Congress only appeases and cannot do any welfare work for the people of Uttarakhand, âhe said.
But Shehzad Khan, a resident of Gurugram, a member of a local group called Muslim Ekta Manch (Muslim Unity Forum), told Al Jazeera that they prayed outdoors “out of duress.”
âThere are a very limited number of mosques in Gurgaon. That is why we have to offer namaz in the open, âhe said.
Khan said a majority of the city’s Hindu community was not against Muslims offering prayers at these sites. “It’s just a handful of people who are creating community disharmony.”
Lawyer Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, one of the organizers of Friday’s event, when asked about Hindu rituals held on the day Muslims usually pray, said: âWe learned this from Muslims.
“They [Muslims], instead of offering namaz in their mosques, pray in open spaces without worrying about the law or the government, âhe told Al Jazeera.
Gurgaon’s protests against #namaz in open spaces get political support.#BJP leaders @KapilMishra_IND , @amu_pal as well as VHP Chief Executive Surendra Jain attended the #Govardhan poo at #Gurugram
Sector 12 at the same place where Muslims offer #namaz every Friday.@TheQuint pic.twitter.com/WUrQAh8eoI
– Eshwar (@hey_eshwar) November 5, 2021
Rajiv Mittal, spokesperson for the Hindu group behind the event, told Al Jazeera that he was not against “Muslims offering namaz” but against “keeping namaz in open spaces without authorisation “. He claimed that the permission granted to 37 locations in Gurugram was only for the holy month of Ramadan.
University of Delhi Hindi activist and professor Apoorvanand said Indian Muslims have been offering namaz on Fridays outdoors for decades.
“It never offended Hindu sensibilities,” he told Al Jazeera. “I see him as criminal elements gaining ground and the administration succumbing to their pressure.”
Parliamentarian Owaisi declared that “the conditions are [being] imposed for the construction of mosques âby the authorities.
“Why do they put this condition that only if x percentage of Muslims are [living in a particular area], only then can you build a mosque? He asked.
“You are depriving me of my fundamental right by imposing such conditions.”