Al-Qaeda chief resurfaces to slam Karnataka hijab row, praises ‘sister’ Muskan
Al-Zawahiri last appeared in a video marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks in the US.
Islamic terror outfit Al-Qaeda's chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was rumoured to be dead in 2020, resurfaced in a nine-minute video released by As-Sahab media, on Tuesday.
As-Sahab is the official media wing of Al-Qaeda. Zawahiri’s video was verified by SITE Intelligence, an American non-governmental organization that tracks online activity of white supremacist and jihadist organizations.
In the video titled ‘the Noble Woman of India’, al-Zawahiri chimed into the hijab row which originated in Karnataka and praised Bibi Muskan Zainab Khan, a college student from Udupi who took a prominent part in pro-hijab protests and became known for shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ slogans to counter a group of boys who were chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’.
Who is the ‘Noble Woman of India’?
Muskan Khan is a student of PES College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Mandya, Karnataka. She is the daughter of PFI leader Abdul Sukoor. After she became famous for the video in which she countered a group of boys by shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ slogans, Zeeshan Siddique, an MLA from the Maharashtra Congress visited her residence in Mandya and gifted her an iPhone and a smartwatch.
Islamic outfit Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind also announced a cash reward of Rs. 5 lakh to Muskan Khan. Another leader Tahera Shaikh Rasheed, who is the mayor of Malegaon Municipal Corporation, also announced that the ‘Urdu Ghar’ in the city would be named after Muskan Khan.
al-Zawahiri said in the video that Indian Muslims should ‘react to this oppression'. He has supposedly stayed on top of developments in India through social media, and said he was so impressed with the video of Muskan Khan that he penned a poem for her. Calling her ‘sister’, al-Zawahiri said he was moved by her raising 'cries of Takbeer'.
This was the Jihadi veteran's first video in five months. He also called out countries that had banned the hijab, slamming Pakistan and Bangladesh for being ‘allies of the West’.
The controversy first started in a government school in Udupi district when six students were barred from entering classrooms because they were wearing hijabs. A petition was then filed in the Karnataka High Court challenging the Udupi Government PU College's decision.
However, the Karnataka HC dismissed the petition and upheld the ban on wearing hijab (headscarves) in educational institutions on March 15, saying that the wearing of Hijab is not an ‘essential practice’ of Islam.
According to speculations in 2020, Zawahiri was supposed to have died of a natural cause, however, an undated video surfaced months later, suggesting he was alive. He is currently located somewhere in Afghanistan. One of the most wanted terrorists of the world, al-Zawahiri took over leadership of the Al-Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden's death.
The US state department has even announced a $25 million reward for the 'apprehension or conviction' of Ayman Al-Zawahiri.