Muslim community objects to Pak scholar’s lecture in city

Raza Academy says that Tahir-ul-Qadri’s views on Kashmir could incite communal violence; Bombay High Court likely to decide on the petition today

Posted On Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 02:23:52 AM

The city’s Muslim community has objected to the visit of a Pakistan-born Islamic scholar, saying his visit could create communal tension in Mumbai.

The Raza Academy - a social and religious forum of Muslims - has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking to restrain Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri from delivering lectures in Mumbai.

Qadri, 61, who lives in Canada, is currently in India to ‘speak on Islam’s message of peace and compassion’. He has already visited Bangalore and Hyderabad and is scheduled to speak in Mumbai on March 15 at the Birla Matoshree Auditorium, near Bombay Hospital, and on March 17 at Somaiya Ground, Sion. The lectures have been organised by Minhaj-ul-Quran International, which Qadri founded in 1981.

The Raza Academy, well-known in the city for its work in the field of education with the Muslim community, fears that Qadri, who in 2010 issued a fatwa on terrorism, will air his controversial views on Kashmir. This, the Academy said, could create communal tension in the city.

The petition, filed on Tuesday, says that in February 2010 Qadri delivered a lecture in Pakistan, in which he is said to have criticised India’s stand of calling Kashmir an integral part of the country. While Qadri has visited India previously, this would be his first visit to Mumbai. Advocate V S Tulpule, representing the petitioner, said, “I don’t think Mumbai wants another riot.”

Raza Academy’s chief Saeed Noori has said in the petition that they had, on March 7, written to union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil to conduct a background check on Qadri before taking further measures.

The advocate representing Minhaj-ul-Quran submitted before the court that Qadri has been touring India for a month now and has delivered a few lectures.

He clarified that Kashmir was not on Qadri's agenda and that the lectures would only be about Islam's message of peace and compassion.

Saying that appropriate security arrangements had been made during Qadri's lectures in Karnataka and Hyderabad, Chief Public Prosecutor Pandurang Pol told the High Court that Mumbai police too was ready to control a situation if anything went wrong.

Pol added that the request made by Minhaj-ul-Quran to hold the programme is still in process and would be completed during the day.

“The police will impose section 149 (Prohibition of gathering of more than four people at one place) of the IPC, if we grant them the permission for the programme,” Pol informed the court.

The division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice P D Kode, while hearing the petition, on Wednesday asked the state to inform it whether it could make adequate arrangements to counter them.

Saying that “the government should ensure that steps are taken to curb the situation if tempers run high”, the court adjourned the matter for Thursday when a decision is likely to be taken on whether Qadri will be allowed to give lectures in Mumbai or not.

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