BENGALURU: As for most Indians currently, staying indoors hasn’t been easy for Congress politician Salman Khurshid either. But the former Indian external affairs minister has used the time to complete a few writing projects, including a book on the Citizenship Amendment Act. “ I am now working on a book on the Ayodhya verdict. I would have never done these books if it weren’t for the lockdown,” he tells CE, soon after participating in a virtual discussion on his book, Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen (2019), that seeks to explain Islam to non-Muslims. He added that while writing a play is also on the cards, Ayodhya remains on higher priority. The session was conducted by Prabha Khaitan Foundation and also featured Dr Mujibur Rehman, faculty member. Jamia Millia Islamia, on Tuesday.
“The book talks about a phase that one thought was inevitable with the emergence of a government that was widely seen as being non-sympathetic or accommodative of the minority sentiment,” Khurshid said, adding, “Thirty years ago, I wrote At Home in India and when I sat down to write Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen, 30 years later, nothing had changed.”
Talking about the Tablighi Markaz controversy, Khurshid asserted that communalising of a pandemic is not the solution. “The only problem is that social distancing is not useful when it comes to the problem of a communal virus, you need to be there to confront and engage, only then will you be able to defeat it,” he said, pointing out that the government should have been more careful because it was in a position to test more people who were coming out of the congregation.
“The figures which came out were misquoted and misrepresented, giving a wrong impression,” he says, adding that a similar incident elsewhere wouldn’t have an impression of a run-away spread. He also emphasised on the need to engage the media in dealing with Islamophobia. “We need some good storytellers and communicators to do this after the lockdown is complete. I believe all the liberals in the country should do this. There are many liberals here and therefore, we should not lose heart,” he said.
Better communication, according to him, is much needed today even when it concerns information about the pandemic and especially since the economy situation is posing a big challenge. “There should be more information available, and better communication and outreach towards the vulnerable sections. Governments and NGOs are doing some things, but how much is the coverage and where are the reports? We shouldn’t have to go to the Supreme Court to get this information,” he said.
Talking about whether the common Muslim across the globe is more prone today to becoming a victim of Islamphobia, he said, “I don’t sit down and compare things between then and now, but I do see a lot more of it now around me. I have seen some of this during the Babri Masjid demolition and the Mumbai riots. Comparisons, if ever they are made, are odious and they are odious in how bad things are. I still have faith and confidence that this country is not going to give in to Islamophobia.”