We are progressive and peaceful: Raza Academy
A group of like-minded Sunni Muslims, under the leadership of founder president Saeed Noori, established Raza Academy in 1978 at Null Bazar in south Mumbai to print and publish books written by 17th century Muslim scholar Aalahazrat Imam Ahmed Raza.
Over the years, the academy set up 32 centres across India, and became a voice of the country’s Sunni community.
"From creating educational awareness, to protesting against the violence against the minorities, we have always been at the fore," said Noori, and added that their protests have always been peaceful. The academy’s protest at the same venue on August 3 went largely unnoticed, he said.
"Since Ramzan is going on, we have been visiting mosques to create awareness about the violence that our community have been subjected to in Assam and other parts of the world. Text messages, emails and Facebook posts are mediums used to invite people to participate [in the protest]," said Shezanali Hemani, a supporter of the academy.
Black flags, badges, banners and ribbons have been characteristic of most of their peaceful unarmed protests, Hemani said. In an unusual protest, an old pair of black shoes was sent to US President Barrack Obama for the frisking of former Indian President Dr Abdul Kalam at JFK airport in New York last year.
In March, the academy protested the arrival of Pakistan-born scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri to the city, saying his speeches could create communal tension. Noori said that they moved the Bombay high court to restrain him, but when the court ruled against them, they staged a peaceful protest outside the auditorium.
With changing times, the younger members of the community have also begun to use social media to network amongst the community members.
From uploading images on social networking website Facebook to posting updates on the micro-blogging website Twitter, the academy youth have been keeping their protests against the "cruelty towards the community around the globe" alive, by mobilising online community support. "Pictures that we upload are shared, helping us reach out to thousands of supporters," said Hemani.