Prominent Muslim activists called upon the organisers of the Azad Maidan rally to go beyond "mere apology" and engage in constructive work for the community even as imams in a few mosques expressed remorse about the violence after the Friday namaz.
"The way the youth were mobilised during Ramzan was not correct. Every issue has a specific reason; so does the Assam violence. It's incorrect for leaders here to give it a communal colour or cry 'conspiracy against Muslims' for everything," said Asghar Ali Engineer, a noted Islamic scholar.
Engineer was joined by journalist and civil liberties campaigners Javed Anand and Shakil Ahmed, and well-known women's rights activist Hasina Khan under the banner of Muslims in Solidarity for Justice.
"The Muslim leadership is completely responsible for the violence for not guiding the youth properly," said Shakil Ahmed. "Most of the youths come from poor backgrounds without proper education. The violence took our fight against injustice behind by a few years," he added.
Anand said the leaders used masjids where people would come to pray during Ramzan as a platform to incite them. "Instead of working towards the relief of the displaced Muslims in Assam, they have only used the situation for political gains," said Anand.
Meanwhile, the Azad Maidan violence drew some expression of remorse, during the ailaan, after Friday prayers at the Sewri mosque. Some imams, in their sermons, made veiled disapproving references to the violence while most preferred to avoid the issue. The sermon at the important Minara Masjid did not refer to the violence.
"It's highly irresponsible that calls about 'conspiracy against Muslims' were given out after prayers at mosques days before the rally. Why should the maulvis keep quiet now?" asked Anand.
The activists demanded that religious leaders, who hold so much sway, focus on development issues within the community instead. "The leaders have completely failed to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report, which dealt with the socio-economic condition of the Muslim community," said Hasina Khan, who heads the not-for-profit Awaaz-e-Nizwan.
They also called for the responsibility of the press, particularly regional press, to refrain from giving false or exaggerated reports about incidents in Assam and Myanmar.