Using a rostrum overlooking the majestic Red Fort, the Shahi Imam of Delhi's grand old Jama Masjid today hit out at the principal political rivals of the United Democratic Front (UDF) he has floated ahead of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh while challenging the charge that Islam breeds terrorists.
''I can say with authority that it is not any Muslim but the Shiv Sena, the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad who are responsible for the serial blasts in Mumbai,'' Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari told a gathering inside the historic mosque.
He cited the recent Sena backlash against the defilement of a statue of the late wife of the party chief as evidence that the Saffron forces were desperate to politically revive themselves in Maharashtra.
The Imam was of the opinion that Muslim men were being blamed for ''every'' terrorist outrage as part of a deep rooted conspiracy.
Community members were being harassed by law enforcing agencies in Mumbai in the wake of the serial blasts even though they had ''no role in the anti-Islamic outrages'', he said, slamming the Congress Governments in Maharashtra and at the Centre.
''Why is it that security forces blame the Lashkar-e-Toiba within ten minutes of a blast. If they already know who did it, why don't they go ahead and arrest the culprits well before the crime is done,'' he asked.
He said he was willing to visit Pakistan and ''talk'' to the LeT commanders if he was given proof of its involvement in terrorist incidents in India. ''If they are responsible then we will talk to them, tell them that they do more harm to the cause of Islam and to Muslims in India through their actions''.
Imam Bukhari said he was worried that while real culprits went scot free and trigerred more blasts, ordinary Muslims were becoming terror suspects in the eyes of the people and the police. ''Every bearded man becomes a suspect'', he said.
Charging the security forces with perpetrating excesses on Muslims, he said terrorism could not be wiped out in such a manner.
''If you want to end terrorism, then you would also have to end State terrorism''.
''The Government should handle the issue of terrorism tactfully.
We want equality before the law'', he said, alleging that the ''yardstick'' was different when it concerned violence perpetrated by Maoists and insurgent groups in the North-East.
He hit out at the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, saying these ''so-called secular parties'' were to blame for all the ills afflicting Muslims today.
''When Muslims get targeted under these so called secular parties, it is time we teach them a lesson. It is time Shias, Sunnis, Ansaris, Saifis, Barelvis, Qureshis and all else stand up as one -- as Muslims -- and snatch back our collective rights and dignity,'' the Imam said, asking the community to stand up to the political challenge.
''We were rulers here for 800 years. Inshaallah, we shall return to power here once again'', he said to loud approval by the nearly 200 assembled men.
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