‘Marginalising Muslims hurts Indian economy’

DUBAI — Right-thinking people in all sections of Indian society have come to realise that marginalising or suppressing Muslims, who comprise almost 14 per cent of the country’s population, creates a drag on the national economy, Professor Ejaz Ahmed Aslam, Assistant Secretary-General of Jamaat-e-Islam Hind, said yesterday.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Tue 19 Jul 2005, 10:47 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:49 PM

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Aslam pointed out that there are all kinds of prejudices that people still harbour, and in the Indian context, it was the anti-Muslim sentiment that was more prevalent.

“The marginalisation of Muslims in India is a result of that prejudice, which is nothing but narrow-mindedness. While some people show their narrow-mindedness openly, there are many who hide it,” he said. “The community, which has gone through its share of ups and downs, unfortunately enjoys bad Press and is often at the receiving end of hate campaigns by those who stand to benefit from such situations, but things have been changing gradually over the years,” Aslam said.

Citing a report, he pointed out that as much as 64 per cent of the Muslim population in India was self-employed, which, he added, was very encouraging.

“Most of this self-employment is on a small scale, involving individuals who run their own garages, are expert technicians in automobiles or some other trade,” he said, adding that when it comes to employment in state or central government bodies, Muslims fare badly.

According to Aslam, Muslim representatives in Parliament comprise less than 50 per cent of the figure considered proportionate to the community’s population in the country. Muslims comprise just over one per cent in both the Indian military and police force, 1.5 in state government (at lower levels) and about one per cent in the central government.

Aslam, however, admitted that the community cannot lay the blame entirely “on someone else’s door, and is partly responsible for the condition it is in.”

“From where we stand today, the future, to me, looks bright. I have immense faith in the democratic set up in our country, and the freedom of the Press — which falters at times, and am sure things will change,” he said.

Commenting on the recent case involving the alleged rape of a Muslim woman by her father-in-law, Aslam pointed out that the whole issue was blown out of proportion by the media and political parties for their own benefit. The delay on the part of Muslim leaders, or community, in reaching out to the world with their views and stance on the issue was an “inherent weakness of the Muslim Ummah (in India)”, he said.

Replying to a question, Aslam pointed out that the initial ‘decision’ of the village council (panchayat), which he said comprised unlettered and uneducated Muslims, nullifying Irfana’s marriage and asking her to live as wife to her father-in-law, was, “to say the least, nonsensical and foolish.”

He clarified that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board never accepted or endorsed the decision of the village panchayat.

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