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Muslims civil rights activists come together to promote gender justice

Civil rights activists from all over the country gathered in the city on Monday to unveil the Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) and condemn the actions and words of Muslim organisations or individuals who promote bigotry, extremism, intolerance, hatred terrorism, or violence in the name of Islam. The group also aims to promote gender justice within the community.

The IMSD is a joint venture among activists Javed Anand, Noor Jehan, Feroze Mithiborwala, Nasreen Contractor and Irfan Engineer. Over a 100 Muslim women and men had come together from over a dozen cities for the two-day event, which coincided with International Minority Rights Day.

“As an organisation of Indian Muslims, our prime responsibility is that of combating the increasing extremism in the community. This is coming out of a supremacist mentality, which is being preached by a few. We plan to counter it,” said Mr. Mithiborewala.

 According to the convenors, IMSD endorses the idea of secular-democratic, non-theocratic and a non-majoritarian state, whether in India or elsewhere across the world.

“There is a necessity to understand that there are many different Islams like in any other community. We aim to boost this pluralism and rejuvenate the centuries-old tolerant tradition of ‘lived Islam,’” said Mr. Anand.

On the gender bias front, IMSD opposes customs like triple talaq, halala and polygamy as also female genital mutiliation, practised in the community. “We will also fight for women’s rights for entry into mosques, dargahs and graveyards” said Noor Jehan of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which led Muslim women’s movement to gain entry into the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali dargah.

IMSD also endorses the codification of Muslim Personal Law to ensure gender justice and parity in the community.

The activists said they also condemn the constant taunting, haunting and targeting of Indian Muslims by right-wing Hindutva forces.

“We do not support the politicization of gender-based issues like triple talaq by some groups in the country” said Ms. Noor Jehan.

On their stand on the uniform civil code, Mr. Anand informed, “Article 44 [of the directive principles of State policy] says the State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code. IMSD completely endorses the Indian Constitution and will respect any genuine endeavor to make this a matter of public discussion, which could take many years, considering the complexity of the issue.” Right now, he said, the Sangh Parivar and its members are politicizing and communalising an issue that is primarily gender-based. “The Muslim Personal Law Board and other organisations are doing the same.”

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