THE NATION: SIMI
INTERVIEW: SAFDAR NAGORI
"I Am Very Bitter About Being An Indian"
Safdar Nagori, SIMI's secretary-general,
spelt out his group's agenda to principal correspondent Sayantan Chakravarty:
"We have no regard
for Nehru, Gandhi... Osama has shown great character."
Q. Are you aware the Government is keeping
a watch on SIMI?
Yes, we are. But it is expected of this Government, isn't it?
Q. A line on your calendar says that "Jehad
is our Path". Can you elaborate?
Let me explain the concept of jehad as detailed in the Quran. It is not
when an individual is harmed but when an entire community finds itself
collectively persecuted that the cry for jehad is given. There are various
stages. You raise your voice. Protest democratically. Warn. If nothing
works then one is forced to
revolt, take to arms.
Q. So what stage of jehad do you find yourself
When the Muslim voice is muffled, when we are fired upon and killed, like
at Kanpur, when you find the Sangh Parivar making statements that the
mandir will be built by March 2002 at Ayodhya, then I can say Muslims
will not take it lying down. And I am not too sure of the consequences.
Q. But the Government is not being run by
Of course it is. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's statement that "I am a swayamsevak"
has left no doubt in the minds of the Muslims. At times he seems to be
shedding tears for the Babri episode but they are only crocodile tears.
Q. SIMI is known to launch vitriolic attacks
against Indian leaders. Why?
A. We Muslims, and not just SIMI, do not recognise leaders as ideals.
There is only one true Lord, one true Ideal.
Q. Can you elaborate?
When we are told that there is a rashtrapita in Gandhi, and another great
statesman in Nehru, we feel it is a direct attack on our fundamentals.
Nehru wanted Muslims to recognise Ghulam Ahmed Qadaini as our Prophet.
He was forcing us to alter our religious belief and we have no regard
for such a man. Also, Gandhi is not our greatest ideal by any stretch
of the imagination. Nor is Indira Gandhi.
Q. So what is your agenda. Is it to Islamise
Look, we have respect for the practitioners of other religions. As true
Muslims, we always will. But at the same time our aim is to propagate
the Quran's tenets. This will be done even among non-Muslims but there
will be no coercion. It's not like you want everybody to sing Vande Mataram.
Q. You seem bitter at being Indian.
Yes. Very bitter. Even in Jerusalem where the atrocities on Muslims have
been like in no other part of the world, the main mosque, Masjid-e-Aksa,
is still intact. At Ayodhya, sadly, it isn't. They use rubber bullets
to keep protesters at bay in Israel, here they kill Muslims, like in Kanpur.
Q. In your conferences you have openly eulogised
Osama bin Laden.
Not once, but dozens of times. We believe that he has shown great character
in standing up to the Americans, the biggest terrorists in the world.
The US made allegations that he was behind the embassy bombings in Nairobi
and Dar-es-Salaam, but we know that Osama had no hand in them.
Q. But he does support the ISI's terrorist
activities in India.
The ISI is different. Osama has no links with the ISI. His enemy no. 1
is not India, but the US.
Q. At SIMI meetings speeches of Qazi Hussain,
the Jamait-e-Islami chief in Pakistan, are played. Why?
We link up with him in Pakistan through phones and the speeches are amplified
for the audience. The Qazi wants us to take Islam to non-Muslims.
Q. Is SIMI's presence in the north stronger
than in the south?
are everywhere, as strong in Kerala and Maharashtra as we are in Delhi
and Uttar Pradesh. Even Assam.
Q. Where do you see your agenda taking you?
are not interested in focusing on leaves and branches. We are interested
in changing things at the roots. In the world's largest democracy there
must be open ideological discussions and not just false propaganda. Our
madarsas are not nurseries of terror.