31st May 2008 was an important day for all those opposed to acts of terrorism being carried out around the world and which are wrongly attributed to Islam and its teachings. On a hot Saturday afternoon, New Delhi s historic Ram Lila Maidan witnessed a huge turnout (between 10,00015,000) of Muslims at a peaceconference organised under the aegis of Jamiat UlamaiHind and Darul Uloom, Deoband. This meeting was supported by other important organisations including All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow , and leaders of different faiths and sects. The highlight of this meet however was a fatwa sought by the Jamiat leader and Member of Parliament, Maulana Mahmood Asad Madani and issued by the Darul Uloom, Deoband. This fatwa was against all forms of terrorism. The fatwa clearly stated, Islam is a religion of peace and security. In its eyes, on any part over the surface of the earth spreading mischief, rioting, breach of peace, bloodshed, killing of innocent persons and plundering are the most inhuman crimes.
The fact that various Muslim organisations came under one umbrella and condemned terrorism as antiIslamic was covered as frontpage news in various Urdu dailies of India . But did the English language media do the same The answer is NO. I took a look at some leading English dailies on the 1st of June 2008. Sample this. The Hindustan Times (Delhi edition) carried the news item on the 31st May conference on page 8. The Hindu ( Hyderabad edition) carried it on page 10. The Sunday Times of India (Delhi edition) has a small column reporting the same on its front page. Sadly it was crickets Indian Premier League that hogged frontpage newsprint and not the pathbreaking declaration, which was of utmost national and international importance. In my opinion, more than the patrons of the Urdu dailies, it was the readership of these English dailies that needed to be informed of the stand taken by thousands of Muslims that day at the Ram Lila Maidan. But who is listening When the unified voice of over 10,000 Muslims got relegated to a few column spaces somewhere in the corner of our major English dailies, how do you think the voices of the common man in Lucknow , Ahmedabad or Hyderabad would reach different corners of the country