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Government has no moral right to declare any national day in the name of Muslim women.

Government has no moral right to declare any national day in the name of Muslim women

Eastern Times, New Delhi: There has been a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring Aug 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law.

Prominent citizens and activists like Aruna Roy, Syeda Hameed, Ayesha Kidwai, Annie Raja, Subhashini Ali, Kavita Srivastva, Jayati Ghosh, Nivedita Menon, Zoya Hasan, Admiral L Ramdas, Urvashi Butalia, Walter Fernandes and Teesta Setalvad on Sunday criticised the law against triple talaq, claiming it is fundamentally anti-minority, anti-women and anti-constitutional.

The statement condemns and rejects this cynical optics of using Muslim women’s rights, in the face of an unprecedented onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years under the present government. It voices strong opposition to declaring 1 August as Muslim Women’s Rights Day,calling it the celebration of alaw that is fundamentally anti-minority, anti-women, anti-constitutional, and seeks only to disparage the Muslim community.

Statement jointly issued by over 660 citizens, including Muslim and non-Muslim women, women rights activists, human rights activists, academicians and students.

The text of the full statement is given below.

This government that has worked to ceaselessly one by one, decimate the constitutional rights of Muslims in India, now has the temerity to declare Muslim Women’s Rights Day on August 1. This, to celebrate its passage of its purportedly Anti-Triple Talaq law (Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019), that claimed to protect Muslim women’s rights, but in reality, had a more sinister purpose – to show Muslim men their place in a new India.

To tell them that they can be criminalized even in civil matters. The Triple Talaq law was an abomination. It was then, and still is, nothing but a charade. Because no such law was needed to “protect Muslim women, or secure their rights” since the Supreme Court had already struck the Triple Talaq down.

So, we voiced our opposition when the law was passed in Parliament in 2019, stating that – “You cannot pretend to save Muslim women while seeking to bring the Muslim community to its knees.” The sentiment is as true today as it was then.

This government has diluted Muslims’ rights to citizenship by enacting the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). The very Muslim women, in whose name you have declared August 1 as a day of “their rights” invited their government, even begged their government, to talk to them when they were out on the streets, protesting the CAA-NPR-NRC, in a desperate bid to save their future, their children’s future, their family’s future, in their own country.

You responded to those Muslim women with the utter contempt of silence. Without even the pretence of democratic dialogue.

This government instead mercilessly arrested those who protested the CAA-NRC-NPR under anti-terror laws like UAPA. It jailed Muslim women who dared to take to their streets to protect their rights to citizenship. It has deprived Muslim women of their youthful children, who languish today in jails.

It has deprived Muslim women of husbands, who are incarcerated. It has placed in detention centres Muslim women, men, children and transpersons who could not produce “citizenship papers” in Assam.

This government has remained silent as Muslims have been lynched, and its leaders have garlanded the lynchers. The BJP both at the centre and through its state governments, has determinedly “gone after” Muslims under myriad laws, both old, new and proposed – beef bans, anti-conversion, including the recent Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, and its proposed U.P. Population Control Bill. It has systematically tried to rob Muslims of their right to livelihood, and Muslim women of their agency.

This government has remained silent as men exhorted mobs to rape Muslim women (most recently in Pataudi). It has remained silent, without a single comment, tweet or tear, as Muslim women’s bodies have become the object of “Sulli Deals” by right wing online mobs.

We collectively, as citizens of India – Muslim and non-Muslim women, men and trans persons across castes and regions – reject the cynical optics of a “Muslim Women’s Rights Day” by a government intent on reducing all Muslims to second-class citizens.

What we demand is the release of Gulfisha Fatima and Ishrat Jahan, both Muslim women, from unjust incarceration. On behalf of Sabiha Ilyas, a Muslim woman, we demand the release of her son, Umar Khalid from unjust incarceration. On behalf of Nargis Saifi, a Muslim woman, we demand the release of her husband Khalid Saifi from unjust incarceration. On behalf of Afshan Rahim, a Muslim woman, we demand the release of her son, Sharjeel Imam from unjust incarceration. On behalf of Fatima Nafees, a Muslim woman, we ask you to find her son, Najeeb.

On behalf of RaihanathKappan, a Muslim woman, we ask you to release her husband, Siddique Kappan from incarceration. On behalf of Ayesha Sultana, a Muslim woman, charged with sedition for stating that officials must follow Covid protocols in Lakshadweep, we ask you to unconditionally drop all charges.On behalf of SafooraZargar, a Muslim woman, we ask that she, like all other Muslim activists, lawyers, journalists, students, be freed of the false and malicious cases filed against them by this government. There is a long such list, Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

After you have done that, please then sit with us. With all of us, Muslim and Non-Muslim women, men and transpersons, who believe in our democracy and its promise of equality. And then we can discuss that appropriate day of ‘declaration’ in the future, when Muslim women feel their rights are secure, and they want the whole nation to celebrate their rightful and visible place in this democracy.

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