Clubhouse debate strains Muslim-Christian ties further in Kerala

It was alleged that speakers in one of the sessions that debated issues such as Love Jihad made some communal remarks about the Muslim community.

Published: 10th June 2021 02:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2021 02:50 AM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

By Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: Taken aback by the controversial remarks against the community by some fringe Christian groups on social media, Muslim scholars have expedited the efforts to initiate a dialogue between the two communities. The immediate provocation was a debate titled ‘Christian Youths, This Way’ organised by some Christian groups in chat rooms on Clubhouse on Monday and Tuesday.

It was alleged that speakers in one of the sessions that debated issues such as Love Jihad made some communal remarks about the Muslim community. “Some of the utterances in the session were not merely anti-Muslim, but also anti-human. It was indeed shocking to hear such comments in the public space,” said Sunni scholar Basheer Faizy Desamangalam.

“Speakers referred to incidents such as chopping the hands of Professor T J Joseph, which was condemned by all Muslim organisations. They were harping on ‘Love Jihad’, a charge that has been dismissed by all investigating agencies and the courts,” he said.

Faizy said it was heartening to see many from the Christian community coming forward to denounce the comments. “One priest apologised for the uncharitable comments on behalf of the community and expressed solidarity with us in a session we organised,” he said.

Faizy said the Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema, the body of Sunni scholars, has expedited the move to initiate a dialogue to sort out the issues. “We consider Christians as a fraternal community, historically and theologically,” he said. Fr Noble Thomas Parakkal, who participated in the discussions, however, said the issue was ‘Love Jihad’ which cannot be fully written off as baseless though all interfaith marriages cannot be put under the category. 

“There is a pattern that is discernible throughout the state that compels us to suspect a design behind it,” he said.Fr Noble, who is the public relations officer of Mananthavady diocese, said the present discussions should be seen in the backdrop of historical events such as the genocide of Christians in Armenia and the brutalities unleashed by the Islamic State. “Moreover, preachers such as M M Akbar have been insulting our religion for the past two decades,” he said.

“There is a feeling that the entire Muslim community supported the Popular Front of India (PFI) in the Hadiya (marriage) case. Panakkad Sadiq Ali Thangal’s newspaper article hailing conversion of Hagia Sofia into a mosque was also provocative,” he said. Even while denouncing the communal comments during the debate, Fr Noble said sincere dialogues are possible only if the Muslim organisations stopped making further provocations.

“The latest example is the issue of 80:20 ratio (in the merit-cum-means scholarships). Everyone knows that justice is on our side, but all Muslim organisations continue to taunt us by making false claims,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) has come up strongly against the fringe Christian groups that organised the debate. In a statement, the KCYM state committee blasted the groups “that are working to implement the communal agenda of some political parties” and distanced itself from the debate. The statement said torture of Christian missionaries in north India and communal policies of the Central government are also the concerns of the Catholic Church. But the fringe groups want to concentrate only on issues related to one particular religion, it said.

Najeeb Kanthapuram, MLA, has asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take stringent action against those who are trying to create a communal divide through social media. In a letter, Najeeb said the social media have been flooded with posts, video and audio documentaries that are intended to create division between Christian and Muslim communities in the past few months.

Pointing out the possibility of a clear conspiracy behind the posts, the MLA raised the suspicion that the move is aimed to destroy the communal amity and peaceful co-existence in the society. “The atmosphere of peace existing in Kerala for centuries should not be disturbed and all efforts should be made to nab the culprits,” he said in the letter.


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