Don’t give legitimacy to polarising TV debates, Islamic scholars urged

Even as protests demanding the arrest of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her comments against the Prophet Muhammad erupted in cities across the country, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday issued an appeal to Islamic scholars and intellectuals not to “participate in television debates whose sole intention is to make a mockery of and insult Islam and Muslims”.

A statement issued by the board said that by participating in such debates Islamic scholars “become the reason for their own direct insult by involving Islam and Muslims’’.

“The intention of these programmes is not to reach any conclusion through constructive discourse but to ridicule and defame Islam and Muslims. To gather some legitimacy, these TV channels need Muslim faces in their debates…if we boycott such programmes and TV channels, not only will it affect their TRP negatively, but they will also fail in achieving their desired outcome through these debates,’’ said the statement.

Spokesperson SQR Ilyas said the board had already spoken about the controversy and that mere suspension by the BJP of its two leaders did not suffice. “There should be legal action taken against those party persons who have been responsible. Legal action is being taken against protesters who are protesting their remarks, but no legal action has been taken against those who have made these objectionable remarks. We have also raised the question as to why there has been no statement or response from the prime minister or home minister about this issue? Why are they silent,’’ Ilyas said.

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“They (the debates), more often than not, defame a particular community, religion and particular personalities—like in the Nupur Sharma debate. By insulting the prophet, she had not only targeted Indian Muslims but Muslims around the world. The backlash from the international community was therefore inevitable and has tarnished India’s image internationally. Our view is that by participating in such discussions, they (the TV channels and these debates) are being given legitimacy, which we will no longer do,” he added.

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