Wednesday, April 24, 2024

CPI(M) MP John Brittas labels Muslim student’s statement as ‘terrorist line’ at college event, students accuse

John Brittas

Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas, affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), sparked controversy by reportedly labeling a Muslim student’s statement as a ‘terrorist line’ during an interactive session on 15 February. This incident occurred while he was addressing the valedictory ceremony of a mock parliament organized by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) at Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram.

During the interactive session, all students, including first-year LLB student Shajrib, a former air force officer, were actively participating.

“Shajrib, wearing a skull cap and sporting a beard, engaged in multiple conversations with Brittas throughout the session. At one point, Brittas even inquired about Shajrib’s name. The discussion eventually shifted to the topic of the “one nation one vote” theory, during which Shajrib expressed opposition. In response, Brittas controversially remarked to Shajrib that his stance resembled ‘a terrorist line’,” Lameeh, a first year LLB student said to Maktoob. 

Lameeh is also Thiruvananthapuram law college unit president of Fraternity Movement.

Jafer Ali, another student and candidate for magazine editor from Congress’ student wing KSU last year, was the first to raise the issue on social media.

“I was present at the program. Upon hearing the Islamophobic statement from Brittas, I felt compelled to leave. My intention is not to exploit this issue for political gain. My only question to Brittas is regarding his use of the term ‘terrorist line.’ How could he label a Muslim wearing a skull cap and beard as a terrorist simply for expressing his views and opinions? As our prime minister once remarked, ‘They can be identified by the clothes they are wearing.’ Then what distinguishes them?” Ali said to Maktoob.

To inquire about the issue, Maktoob reached out to the SFI Thiruvananthapuram Law College unit president, Al Safar. However, he stated that no such incident occurred during the program.

However, Shajrib offered a contrasting narrative: “I attended the program to listen to Brittas’s remarks. Initially, I didn’t fully comprehend his labeling. However, after the program ended, several SFI organizers approached me and offered apologies. They even expressed willingness to address the issue through their committee. At that moment, they acknowledged the mistake made by their leader. However, when the issue gained traction on social media, they began crafting a different narrative. Some claimed Brittas’s statement was made sarcastically, while others argued it was merely an expression referring to individuals with strong opinions. We are well aware of who is labeled as terrorists in our country.”

“I am not affiliated with any specific political party. I attend programs organized by everyone,” he added. 

Shajrib has refrained from taking any action primarily due to the lack of video evidence to support his claim.

Despite our efforts to obtain a response from John Brittas and his office regarding the MP’s stance on the matter, they have not provided any comment or response.

“In today’s political climate, characterised by heightened scrutiny and discrimination against the Muslim community, particularly regarding their religious practices such as growing beards, wearing caps and hijabs, John Brittas’s remark as a responsible member of the Rajya Sabha is profoundly disappointing and objectionable. This incident serves as yet another instance of entrenched Islamophobia within society. In light of such circumstances, it is imperative for John Brittas to acknowledge his mistake, rectify it, and issue a sincere apology,” Lameeh said to Maktoob.

Sahid Faris
Sahid Faris
Sahid Faris is a freelance journalist in Kerala.

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