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Muslim clergy divided on nuclear deal

Sharp divisions have arisen among the Muslim clergy across North India over the Indo US nuclear deal.
None | By HT Correspondents, Lucknow
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2008 12:35 AM IST

Sharp divisions have arisen among the Muslim clergy across North India over the Indo US nuclear deal. While one section insists that the deal has nothing to do with religion or their community, and is related entirely to the country's energy needs, the other maintains that any kind of close collaboration with the United States — given its current role in Iraq and Afghanistan — is detrimental to Muslim interests.

On Monday, top clerics from the revered Islamic school Darul Uloom at Deoband and the well known organization Jamiat Ulema e Hind, strongly criticized fellow scholars and ulemas for giving a religious colour to the nuclear deal.

The deal is not against Muslims," said Maulana Abdul Khaliq Mohammad Islam of Deoband. " Whether the deal is in national interest or not is for scientists and politicians to decide. It is wrong to link the community with the controversy," said Kalimullah Khan Quasmi, Jamiat secretary.

But only days earlier, other noted clerics and Muslim intellectuals, including All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) vice chairman Dr Kalbe Sadiq, Naib Imam of the Lucknow Idgah, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahli, and many more renowned figures in the community had met Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati to applaud her for opposing the nuclear deal.

Some among the clergy blame politicians for creating the rift. Said Abdul Qayoom Akhtar, secretary, All India Milli Council,"Some politicians are spreading canards about the community which should be condemned. An effort is being made to show Muslim interests as entirely distinct from those of other communities, which is rubbish."

The average Muslim, however, appears to be more influenced by opponents of the deal than its supporters. " Muslim in Bhopal have always hated US imperialism which they hold responsible for the gas disaster of 1984. The Iraq has made these feelings even stronger," said Abdul Jabbar, a prominent social activist of the city.

Many Muslims made it clear that while the BJP remained the primary enemy, they would, given a choice among opponents of the BJP, vote for a party which opposed the nuclear deal as well.

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