Sunday, March 3, 2024

Second FIR filed against Mufti Salman Azhari, outrage over arrest continues spread

Police in Gujarat on Tuesday registered a second FIR against Mumbai-based Islamic scholar and preacher Mufti Salman Azhari, who is under arrest charged with hate speech, after he delivered a speech in Gujarat’s Junagadh.

The second FIR is concerning another speech he made at a religious event at Samakhiyari in the Kutch district.

The charges include sections 153B (promoting enmity between different religious groups) and 505 (2) (making statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“An FIR has been registered against Mufti Salman Azhari for delivering a provocative speech at a religious function organised at Samakhiyari on January 31. Police permission was granted for the event, but the content of the speech was similar to that of the Junagadh event (held the same day),” Kutch (East) Superintendent of Police Sagar Bagmar said while speaking to media.

After his arrest from Mumbai on Sunday, Azhari was brought to Ahmedabad by a team of the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS). From there, he was taken to Junagadh under a day remand.

As soon as the Azhari’s supporters came to know about the impending arrest, they rushed in large numbers and gathered outside the Ghatkopar police station on Sunday night.

“Neither am I a criminal nor have I been brought here for commuting a crime. They are doing the required investigation and I am also cooperating with them. I am ready to be arrested if it is in my destiny,” he told his supporters who were protesting against the arrest.

Several protesters were injured when Mumbai police resorted to a lathi charge against the crowd.

Mufti Salman Azhari, an alumnus of the Al Azhar Cairo University in Egypt, gave the alleged speech on the night of January 31, at an event near the ‘B’ division police station in Junagadh. After the video went viral, the police booked him, and local organisers Mohammad Yousuf Malek and Azim Habib Odedara.

While Malek and Habib were arrested on Saturday, Salman Azhari was arrested the next day.

Azhari’s advocate Arif Siddiqui while speaking to ANI said that he was “illegally detained” and the notice that needs to be served to us as per the law wasn’t given to us before the arrest.

Meanwhile, netizens defended Salman Azhari on social media platforms claiming that the charges of hate speech were framed against him by misrepresenting his words using a trimmed video clip of 15 seconds.

In the full segment of the speech, it can be heard, as Azhari himself claimed, that he was referring to the oppression faced by Muslims everywhere in the world including Palestine, Syria and Yemen.

When he said “Now, it’s time for dogs, and our time will come”, he was calling oppressors as dogs.

On the contrary, the Hindu right wing and its cyber wing ran propaganda that by “dogs” he meant Hindus and provoked anger against the Muslim preacher.

Waris Pathan, national spokesperson of AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) and former MLA for the party in Byculla, strongly condemned the arrest and questioned the hypocrisy of governments and police department which turned a blind eye to the open calls for genocide against Muslims.

“He (Mufti Salman Azhari) has been detained illegally by Gujarat ATS on baseless allegations. When actual hate speeches are made, why doesn’t the government take any action, why aren’t any arrests made?” he said.

Several Muslim organisations issued statements of solidarity for Azhari terming the allegations against him as false, and demanding his release. 

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