By Dr Kouser Fathima,MM
The hanging of Yakub Memon will be remembered for a long time and will be crucial in future decisions.
But the whole episode raises a lot of questions about the reaction of Muslims and the way Muslims are portrayed.
If ,I a non- political, unbiased and educated person based on media coverage and TV debates got a disturbing impression that we Muslims were troubled by the hanging of Yakub Memon .If this is the impression I get imagine the confusing message others got.
The Indian Muslims have been-mostly law abiding citizens with their share of social and economical problems .Many Muslims have achieved a lot in various fields bringing laurels to both the nation and community. But can’t ignore the fact that most school dropouts are Muslims, economically we are showing a downward trend. Incomplete education has lead to increase in unemployment and also decreased representation of Muslims in government & public sector jobs. When the Nation was reaping the benefits of IT revolution, Muslims failed to utilize the opportunities in larger sense. Not that there are no educated and well settled Muslims but if compared to other communities we do lag behind.
Not to forget hundreds of Muslims under trials languishing in jail for years for petty crimes only because they have no legal help. Most come from poor and uneducated families who don’t know the laws or can’t afford good legal advice resulting in wasted lives.
The political and social leaders better reach out to these youth, than making controversial statements. Not that these people don’t have a right to air their views, they do but they should not project their views as that of the entire community. With such a large and diverse community many don’t endorse their view.
If one is against death penalty so be it but adding a communal angle is disastrous. I would have wanted him to be not hanged, not because of common the faith we share but more so on humanitarian ground. A pro and anti death penalty issue was reduced to a communal one .Few realized that communalizing the issue caused more damage than help.
The media definitely played an important role in this whole episode. The hanging of Yakub got more coverage than the funeral of Dr Kalam, one of the most respected people of this era. It tried to show Muslims sadder about the hanging than the demise of Dr Kalam. If allowed many would have even telecasted the hanging live, anything to create sensationalism. Most against the hanging were anti death penalty activists, but the focus only on Muslims by media was gross .It portrayed that Muslims would blindly support even if it was a convict.
The Muslim moderates and liberals who don’t endorse the views need to be more vocal and expressive. Moderates who complain of being misinterpreted either are silent or barely audible. Come on, you are as much part of the community as the other and need to reassert their stand depending on political parties and politicians to decide the narrative is futile. Any change can be bought by the awakening of the educated youths; sure of its priorities and not mere blind supporters. If we start today the coming generations will be safe. So Better late than never.