By T.G. Biju
New Delhi, Jul 23 (IANS): Denouncing a radical Muslim group in Kerala as a blot on Muslims, a senior leader of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has urged young Muslims to stay away from such "anti-Islamic outfits".
E.T. Mohammed Basheer, a Lok Sabha member, came out strongly against the Popular Front of India (PFI), whose activists have been accused of chopping off one of the hands of a college professor for allegedly making derogatory references to Prophet Mohammed.
The PFI, which enjoys wide support in Kerala, has denied the charge.
"No one who follows the real path shown by the Holy Prophet will go with such anti-Islamic outfits. He has shown us the path of peace. Outfits like PFI, which stand for violence in the name of Islam, are a blot on Muslims in Kerala," Basheer, 64, told IANS.
Basheer spoke three days after the IUML youth wing complained against him to the party leadership.
Basheer had said he could not state for sure if PFI activists were responsible for the July 4 attack on professor T.J. Joseph.
The youth wing complained to the party's spiritual head, Sayyid Hyderali Shihab Thangal, saying Basheer's statement amounted to justifying the PFI.
"It is for the police and the government to state who is behind the crime, not me," Basheer said when asked about his controversial statement. "Muslim youths should not walk into the traps of such outfits."
Basheer turned his guns on Kerala's Left Democratic Front (LDF) government and police, accusing them of "trying to portray the entire Muslim community" in the state as a "Talibanised community".
"I have opposed the way police and those responsible in the government are making statements... Don't try to give such a wrong message in society. It is unhealthy," said Basheer, who was education minister in the Congress-led ministry in Kerala in 1991-96 and 2004-06.
He asked the state government to take immediate action against those involved in the brutal attack on the college professor.
"The government must pinpoint the culprits and expose them before the public without any delay," said Basheer, who represents the Ponnani Lok Sabha constituency.
He said the Muslim League was a secular party and it enjoyed the support of the general public.
"We cannot support hardliners. We cannot go along with them. We are against such outfits and their ideology," he said.
Basheer instead accused the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which heads the Kerala government, of promoting hardline Muslim groups like Abdul Nazer Mahdani's People's Democratic Party (PDP) in order to weaken the IUML, a Congress ally since 1977.
He also referred to the the CPI-M's support to Hussein Randathani, a candidate of Mahdani, to defeat him (Basheer) in Ponnani during the 2009 Lok Sabha election.