American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI)

According to its website, AFMI was founded in 1989 “…to improve the socio-economic status of the underprivileged Indian Muslim minorities through education.”[1]  In this capacity, AFMI is involved in relief work as well as educational initiatives aimed at the Indian Muslim community in India, US and Canada. One of its other goals is to stand up for a “…stable democratic, secular and progressive India where human rights of all are preserved and no one is discriminated on the basis of their caste, religion, language or region.”[2] “AFMI works in close cooperation with all those forces that believe in all these principles.”[3] However, AFMI has rarely worked with any major Hindu organization on this goal. Working with the so-called “progressive and secular” forces of CAG is a different matter.

AFMI also serves as an umbrella organization containing representatives from Association of Indian Muslims in America (AIM), Indian Muslim Relief Charities (IMRC), Consultative Council of Indian Muslims (CCIM) and others. AIM and IMRC are official members of CAG, while CCIM is featured in several petitions/campaigns conducted by members of CAG and has been known for its support of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Further, AFMI’s founder subscribes to rather inaccurate views about India and Hindus.

In its 20th Annual Convention, AFMI invited Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Asaduddin Owaisi, and Maulana Mohd. Madni, leader of Jamiat-ul Ulema Hind to “…share their words of wisdom and advice.”[4] Both Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar are well known for their so-called “progressive” views. Azmi, for example, had special admiration for the late M.F. Husain, one of the most controversial Indian painters. Hussain famously painted a naked Lord Hanuman fighting Ravana with Sita sitting on Lord Hanuman’s thigh; a naked Goddess Lakshmi sitting on top of Lord Ganesha; a naked Goddess Durga on her lion; a naked Goddess Saraswati and a fully clad Muslim king with a naked Brahmin.[5] Azmi felt that Husain was not against Hindus at all. According to her: “It wasn’t the aam aadmi [common man] who wanted Husain out of the country. I know what a true lover Husain was of India.”[6] Husain’s “love” was apparently so strong that he paraded India’s most revered deities and personalities internationally in a manner that continues showing Hinduism as an “exotic-erotic” religion that can be ridiculed by anyone in the world. Husain did not paint any Muslim personality negatively nor did he choose to simply paint a nude woman. One can only imagine the uproar had Husain painted a naked Virgin Mary or a picture of Prophet Muhammad.

Azmi’s polemical views were once again highlighted when she claimed in 2008 that she was denied an apartment in Mumbai because she was a Muslim and that the Indian democracy is unfair to Muslims. Her views sound very similar to those held by Omar Khalidi of IAMC and AFMI (see below), Kaleem Kawaja of AIM, some other members of AFMI and a whole host of other so-called “activists”. Exposing her bias on the housing issue, people from the Indian film industry called a Press conference in Mumbai to denounce her views.[7] Producer-director Shashi Ranjan reminded Azmi:

There are certain Parsi societies that do not allow non-Parsis. In Bandra, there are many societies that do not allow non-Christians. There are some who do not allow Hindus who eat non-vegetarian food. I do not condone this. But that doesn’t mean secularism and democracy of our country is in danger.[8]

But, AFMI’s disturbing ideological leanings are further highlighted by the presence of Asaduddin Owaisi and the acknowledgment he received from the Convention Chair in the message above.  He can be seen speaking at the Convention in a 2010 Rediff article covering the event. According to the article, “Owaisi received the Excellence Award from AFMI for his ‘visionary leadership and effective representation of a minority, especially those of Muslims, in the Indian Parliament’.”[9]

Owaisi is a highly controversial leader in India whose Islamist and anti-Hindu tirades have been well known for some time. During the Assam clashes involving ethnic Bodos and illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants, Owaisi, in his highly controversial speech in the Indian parliament, warned the Central government and Members of Parliament that, if the Bangladeshi illegal migrants are not rehabilitated, India will face a third wave of radicalization among Muslim Youth![10] It didn’t matter to Owaisi whether India’s sovereignty is at stake or that illegal immigrants are causing issues in ethnic tribal areas – his only concern was that these immigrants are Muslims and should therefore be given whatever they needed. Worse, he blatantly ignores historical facts and ethnic cleansing incidents of Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh when he states: “…when Bangladesh was created, Muslims were three crore; Hindus were three crore [that is, 30 million]. As of now, Muslims in Bangladesh are 13 crore; and Hindus in Bangladesh are 1.5 crore. Sea cannot swallow so many Hindus of Bangladesh! Where have they gone?”[11] Thus, he implies that all these Hindus have migrated back to India and that the illegal Muslim immigrants are actually Hindus!

Owaisi’s crazy antics were also highlighted when he was seen beating up voters during a general election.[12] Further, in a July 7, 2012 tweet (illustrated in the figure below thanks to a blogger named Piyush at Thinker’s Pad), Owaisi considers the Indian army as terrorists who should be shot dead.[13]

MIM's Anti India Tweet

The above illustration shows two disturbing tweets by Owaisi’s AIMIM: a) “Two terrorist jawans of Indian army shot in J&K.  One killed :)” and b) “Terrorist Indian army should be shot dead.”

Lastly, does AFMI not know Owaisi’s family history and the history of his political party? Or does AFMI sympathize with Owaisi and his family’s political/extremist views?

Owaisi’s family party, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), was originally known as Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which advocated for a dominant Muslim country rather than integration of Hyderabad into India.[14] The party set up a paramilitary youth group known as Razakars to fight against India and resist India’s attempts to merge Hyderabad into the Indian Union after Independence and to force its merger with Pakistan instead. The Razakars brutally killed Hindus in Hyderabad for their resistance well as their intentions to merge with the Indian Union. In an article in The Hindu, the sole survivor of a small village from that time, N. Mallaiah, recalled the brutalities of the fanatics on August 27, 1948: “They plundered everything. The armed men molested women, killed sheep and killed able-bodied men just for pleasure. They looted every village en route…’”[15] According to the other survivors who had similar stories to tell, “…on that single day, the Razakars killed over 70 people in the village.”[16]

AIMIM’s troublesome and anti-national activities are further elaborated in a study by the South Asia Analysis Group. For example, AIMIM’s predecessor, MIM was revived in 1957 in Hyderabad and a decade later it petitioned the Indian government for the foundation of a purely Muslim State on India’s eastern coast.[17]

By inviting and honoring people with such bloody family histories, AFMI endorses and sympathizes with their Islamist agenda.

Section 16.01     Spotlight on Some Prominent AFMI Members

Omar Khalidi, whose writings were discussed in under IAMC here, was the regional Vice President of AFMI, according to AFMI’s statement in a Press Release mourning his death.[18]

But, the most prominent member of AFMI is Dr. Abdul Rahman Nakadar, an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University in India.[19] Nakadar is one the founding members, trustees and guiding lights of AFMI, as seen in a message written by Nakadar and Convention Chair Rizwana Khan, during the 20th Annual Convention.[20] Unfortunately, many of these leaders, founders and activists continue to subscribe to and peddle the ludicrous theory of an ongoing “Hindu conspiracy” against Muslims. For instance, during a panel discussion titled “Muslims in India” at the June 2002 Annual Convention of American Muslim Council (AMC), Nakadar makes a rather dangerous statement while speaking on the 2002 Gujarat riots. He describes the violence against Muslims as a “preplanned genocide” and that the Indian and Gujarat governments were complicit with this genocide![21] He deliberately ignores such facts as below:

Immediately after the Godhra train burning, on the evening of 27 February 2002, the Gujarat Chief Minister summoned an emergency meeting of top-ranking officials of the government, took steps to deploy the Rapid Action Force (RAF), the State Reserve Police and the local police at sensitive points. Since the troops at Ahmedabad Cantonment had been deployed at the border in view of the attack on Parliament earlier, the Chief Minister requested the then Defence Minister telephonically (sic) on 28 February 2002 to immediately deploy army battalions to tackle the situation, which was done immediately.[22]

Such facts have also been verified by other individuals and critics of Narendra Modi. Madhu Kishwar, the founder of Manushi, a popular women’s rights magazine, and an initially strong critic of Mr. Modi, provides interviews and statistics about Mr. Modi’s and Gujarat government’s engagement with the Muslim community during after the Godhra riots.[23] She also interviewed prominent Muslims such as Najma Heptullah (the grand-niece of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) and Zafar Sareshwala (who once filed a case against Mr. Modi in the International Criminal Court).

Kishwar also shares the following stats she gathered from various media outlets as well as the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court of India:[24]

  • 5,000 people were rescued from Noorani mosque by the Ahmedabad police
  • 240 persons were saved at Sardarpura in Mehsana district and shifted to safe places
  • 450 lives were rescued in Pore and Nardipur villages and shifted to safer places
  • 200 persons were saved in Sanjoli village
  • 1,500 persons were rescued from Fatehpura village in Vadodra district
  • 3000 people were saved and shifted from Kawant village

Yet, the Islamic advocacy groups and radical Indian leftists of CAG deliberately suppress such statistics to continue with their theories about “Hindu savagery” against Muslims, Dalits, Christians and other minorities in India.

The AMC conference also featured Kaleem Kawaja of AIM on the same panel, where he implored Muslims to urge their “senators and congressmen to pay attention to the 50-year-long, continued oppression [emphasis added] of Muslims in India.”[25]

In another example of the partnership amongst members of this nexus, Nakadar was a prominent speaker in the 2002 Symposium on South Asia, organized by PIFRAS. Nakadar’s speech was laden with hyperbolic and inaccurate statements. Decrying the Gujarat government for its alleged role in the 2002 riots and the “ongoing repression” of minorities, Muslims, Dalits and Christians in India, Nakadar declared:

Gujarat, the second most prosperous and an industrial friendly state, recently witnessed the most horrible crime in its history….For the last 50 years there has been a constant attempt to subjugate and capitulate the minorities, Muslims, Christians, Dalits and others [emphasis added].  In Gujarat alone in three weeks of mayhem against the minorities, over 5,000 Muslims have been killed and 1.5 billion worth of Muslim businesses torched, looted or destroyed [emphasis added]…The forces that turn against Muslims in Gujarat can also turn against all other religious minorities.[26]

The above is also mixed with statements meant to alarm US and international investors about the supposed horrific law and order situation in Gujarat and in India. Interestingly, Gujarat has not witnessed a single riot since 2002 and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), while slowing, has not been severely impacted.

Nakadar has also been the unifying force behind several Islamic advocacy groups under the umbrella of AFMI. Writing about AFMI’s origins, Nakadar describes his roles in forming and uniting several Muslim organizations “…under the auspices of [Association of Indian Muslims in America, AIM-MI]”.[27] In 1988, AIM-MI, as it was then known, called a convention in Detroit to form a national federation uniting several Muslim organizations with representation from the Consultative Council of Indian Muslim (CCIM) in Chicago, the Indian Muslim Relief Committee (IMRC, discussed here) of San Francisco and Association of Indian Muslims in America of Washington DC (discussed here) and others.[28] In fact, the writing displays a picture of AFMI’s first meeting, containing Nakadar of AFMI, Kaleem Kawaja of AIM, Manzoor Ghori of IMRC and many others. Thus, it is evident that AFMI is an umbrella organization of representatives of some of the other organizations in the CAG.

It is people and organizations like these that continue to fan the flames of communal divide between Hindus and Muslims by projecting mirages of “a perpetual Hindu conspiracy” against Muslims and “continued large-scale oppression” of Muslims in India.

 

[1] http://www.afmi.org/aboutus.asp. Accessed January 16, 2014

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] See a copy of the “Message from Convention Chair Rizwana Khan” at https://web.archive.org/web/20130809074130/http://afmi.org/messages.asp. Accessed January 16, 2014

[5] See copies of Husain’s paintings at http://webneel.com/mf-husain-paintings-art-controversy-indian-artist.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[6] “Husain was a true lover of India: Shabana”, June 11, 2011, Deccan Herald, http://www.deccanherald.com/content/168106/husain-true-lover-india-shabana.html. Accessed January 16, 2014

[7] Linah Baliga, “Film fraternity livid over Shabana Azmi’s comment”, August 21, 2008, DNA, http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/1184725/report-film-fraternity-livid-over-shabana-azmis-comment.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[8] Ibid

[9]“Muslim convention in US discusses Ayodhya”, November 3, 2010, Rediff.com, http://www.rediff.com/news/report/muslim-convention-in-us-discusses-ayodhya/20101103.htm. Accessed January 16, 2014

[10]“Asaduddin Owaisi’s speech in Lok Sabha over ethnic violence in Assam”, January 10, ‘13, indiatoday.intoday.in

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/asaduddin-owaisi-speech-in-lok-sabha-over-ethnic-violence-in-assam/1/241684.html. Accessed January 16, 2014

[11] Ibid

[12] “MIM Leader Asaduddin Owaisi beating voters during General Elections”, IBTL, December 28, 2012 http://www.ibtl.in/video/6636/mim-leader-asaduddin-owaisi-beating-voters-during-general-elections/.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[13] The illustration and further analysis of Owaisi’s views is available at the following blogging site: http://thinkers-pad.blogspot.com/2012/08/asaduddin-owaisi-khilafat-20.html.

[14] See the Wikipedia Page for AIMIM at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_India_Majlis-e-Ittehadul_Muslimeen.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[15] Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao, “Survivor of Razakars’ brutality reminisces”, September 14, 2013, The Hindu, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/survivor-of-razakars-brutality-reminisces/article5126155.ece.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[16] Ibid

[17] R. Upadhyay, “Provocative Politics of AIMIM”, January 4, 2013, South Asia Analysis Group, http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1113. Accessed January 16, 2014

[18] “Omar Khalidi dies in an accident, community at a great loss”, November 30, 2010, The Milli Gazette, http://www.milligazette.com/news/163-omar-khalidi-dies-in-an-accident-community-at-a-great-loss.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[19] See the AMU Newsletter Volume 2, Issue1, Page 7, on April 20, 2009 at http://www.amudirectory.com/Files/volume-2-issue-1.pdf. Accessed January 16, 2014

[20] See “Message from Convention Chair Rizwana Khan”, available at https://web.archive.org/web/20130809074130/http://afmi.org/messages.asp

[21] Kaleem Kawaja, “Panel discussion on Indian Muslims in Washington”, The Milli Gazette, http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/15072002/1507200233.htm. Accessed January 16, 2014

[22] Ram Jethmalani, “Let truth be known about Modi”, The Sunday Guardian, http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/let-truth-be-known-about-modi.  Accessed January 16, 2014

[23] Madhu Kishwar, “Modinama 1: Narendra Modi through the Eyes of Gujarati Muslims, Christians and…”, Manushi, http://www.manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1685&ptype=campaigns&pgno=1#.UtmXRrQo7IX.  Accessed January 17, 2014

[24] Kishwar, ibid

[25] Kawaja, ibid

[26] See Nakadar’s speech titled “Impact of nationalism on trade policies, on the developing market economy and democratic principles & International investment; US-SOUTH ASIA TRADE RELATIONS” at http://www.pifras.org/Programs/Past_Programs/Sumposium_report/Symposium_speeches/Nakadar/nakadar.html.  Accessed February 13, 2014

[27] Read Nakadar’s description of AFMI’s history at http://www.afmi.org/how-afmi-came-into-being/. Accessed January 16, 2014.

[28] Ibid.