Hate And Violence Remain Interlinked

Godmen and clerics are showing the ugly face of religion on national TV channels, writes KULSUM MUSTAFA

Be it the self-proclaimed Godman Omji or the self-appointed spokesperson for the minority community, Maulana Ejaz Arshad Qasmi — they both belong to a clan which is depicting a very negative image of religion for just personal gain and fame.

By their verbal and physical abuse of women participants, who dare to disagree with them, these media savvy panelists have shown the highest disrespect that they could to women. Even if one accepts the fact that they were being instigated but even then it does not befit any man, more so ever a man who claims to represent a religious community to behave in this manner. Their behaviour made the world sit up and watch them in shock and horror.

Some three years back in a live TV debate of a TV channel’s newsroom on controversial Godwoman Radhe Maa, a panelist Deepa Sharama had slapped the self-style Godman Omji. No doubt it was a brazen act but worst was the way the way Omji reacted. He slapped Deepa, started beating her up all the while verbally abusing her too. It was a disgusting sight to watch.

Comparisons they say can be odious. Most certainly so when you compare what happened on live TV show on a prominent channel recently. The viewers across the world witnessed a fist fight and assault between a Maulana Ejaz Arshad Qasmi and Farah Faiz, a lady lawyer and activist. The issue was triple talaq and after heated arguments for a few minutes Farah just got up, detangled her mike, walked up to the maulana and raised her hand.

This got him so agitated that he raised his hand and started manhandling her. It was an unthinkable situation and the Channel reacted by lodging an FIR. The maulana was arrested.

It is alleged that Farah, who runs an NGO in Uttar Pradesh and is honorary national president of RSS-linked Muslim Mahila Sangh. It is being said that she has been planted by the RSS to malign the image of the Muslim community. Her fight for Muslim women and their right to proper divorce, maintenance for women dignity is viewed by her opponents as a garb to present a distorted picture of the minority community’s females and is not seen as a way of showing gender discrimination.

Shaista Amber, social activist and vociferous supporter of fight against Triple Talaq, termed the entire incident as “Sharamnaak’ (Shameful) and against insaniyat aur ikhlaaq”’. (against humanity and etiquette). She said that nobody has a right to insult either a man or a woman for the belief that the person holds.

Amber also questioned how Qasmi has become the spokesman of the minority community when the community has not nominated him to represent it.

Television debates have for the past few years become the main source of what they term as ‘trending’ in the social media. Television hosts like Arnab Goswami and Republic TV have proved that loud and often insulting remarks can get high TRPs and big political gains.

“Anyone with a beard and a cap is not a maulana or Islamic scholar, it is time the TV channels stop imposing their own ‘ulemas’ on the masses,” said Prof Hilal Naqvi, Congress spokesperson. He expressed regret that TV channels are ‘cultivating” ulemas on their own and because their views suite them. Such persons cannot be said to be representing the community and with their ‘half baked’ knowledge they cause great harm to the community, he said

Many label these as stunts to raise TRPs or to gain popularity. But at what cost? Many feel that Clerics or religious leaders must not be part of such debates on TV.