Cong. takes lead to ease social tension

Situation following controversial ‘narcotic jihad’ remark by Pala bishop

The Congress on Sunday stepped up its efforts to ease the simmering social tension following the controversial ‘narcotic jihad’ remark by Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, while the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, the influential Sunni scholars’ forum, declared that “there is no jihad in Islam for religious conversion.”

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran had been holding talks with various leaders of the two minority communities for the past few days. On Sunday, they met Samastha president Syed Jiffri Muthukoya Thangal, Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen leaders T.P. Abdullakoya Madani and Hussain Madavoor, Sunni leader Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliyar, and Kozhikode Bishop Varghese Chakkalakkal.

On Saturday night, they met Thamarassery Bishop Mar Remigiose Inchananiyil. They had earlier met leaders of the Roman Catholic church in Kottaym as well.

The Pala bishop’s sermon cautioning against radical Islamists using “narcotic drugs” to influence Catholic and non-Muslim youths had led to a furore. Addressing the media on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Satheesan and Mr. Sudhakaran alleged that the State government’s response to the issue had been lethargic.

Mr. Sudhakaran said the statement of Minister for Cooperation V.N. Vasavan after meeting the bishop was an irresponsible one. Mr. Satheesan called for an urgent all-party meet to discuss a solution to the social tension. He also alleged that soon after the bishop had made the remarks, poisonous messages and videos were being spread through fake social media accounts to disrupt the peace and communal harmony in society. The Congress leaders said the party would soon call a meeting of community leaders.

Meanwhile, quoting from the Koran, Mr. Muthukoya Thangal said there was no need to forcibly convert anyone to Islam. “We don’t have a concept of love jihad, of luring girls through love to Islam. Some isolated individuals may be doing it. But it is unfair to blame the whole community for it… Muslims have never encouraged terrorism or communalism here,” he said. While pointing out that inter-religous marriages and relationships had been happening here, nobody should call it love jihad.

Mr. Aboobacker Musliyar, at the same time, asked the Pala bishop to withdraw the comments. Whatever the bishop had said was wrong. “He should correct it…It has been confirmed that there is no such thing as love jihad,” he added.

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