The All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Friday issued an appeal to scholars and intellectuals of the community to not participate in television debates that are meant to insult Islam and Muslims.
The appeal was issued on the same day when Muslims led protests in several parts of India against the remarks made by two Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons about Prophet Muhammad.
Nupur Sharma made the remarks about the Prophet during a debate on the Times Now television channel on May 26. Naveen Jindal, who was media head of the party’s Delhi unit, had also posted a tweet on June 1 about the Prophet, which he later deleted.
The BJP took no action against both the leaders until June 5, when a chorus of diplomatic outrage began. The party had then suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s statement on Friday said that the intention of the TV debates in the country is not reach a constructive consensus but is to ridicule and defame Islam.
The statement said that in order to gather legitimacy, channels need Muslims to participate in their programmes and Islamic scholars become “victims of such agendas”.
“If we boycott such programmes and TV channels, not only will it affect their Television Rating Points negatively, but they will also fail in achieving their desired outcome through these debates,” the Muslim body added.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board spokesperson, SQR Ilyas, told The Indian Express that the news channels are organising debates to “polarise society on communal lines” instead of trying to “truly understand an issue”.
Referring to the Sharma fiasco, Ilyas said that her remarks targeted Muslims not only in India but around the world. “The backlash from the international community was, therefore, inevitable and has tarnished India’s image internationally,” he told The Indian Express.
He also called for strict legal action against Sharma and those responsible for the objectionable remarks.
New Delhi has been trying to contain the fallout of the outrage across the world, saying the controversial comments had been made by “fringe elements” and did not reflect the views of the Indian government.