A day after distancing himself from Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh’s comment on rapists, Mumbai North Central constituency candidate Farhan Azmi was embroiled in another controversy on Friday, following his father Abu Asim Azmi’s comment on premarital sex. His wife, former actor Ayesha Takia, said she and Farhan were deeply embarrassed and ashamed.
Worried his father’s unfortunate comment will derail his poll campaign, Farhan said he disagreed with his father’s ideology. “My father was shedding light on Islamic rules, like the ones practiced in Saudi Arabia. But our entire country cannot be run by these rules. Only practising Muslims and even some Hindus will agree that people should not have sex before marriage, but I disagree with my father on this topic. If sex is consensual although pre-marital, no one can stop it,” said Farhan.
“We surely do not share this mindset. It’s disrespectful to women. If what I’m reading about my father-in-law’s statement is true, then Farhan and I are deeply embarrassed and ashamed,” tweeted Ayesha.
Farhan admitted to being apprehensive about the impact his father’s comment would have on voters in his constituency.
North Central constituency comprises areas such as Vile Parle, Chandivali, Kurla, Kalina, Bandra (East) and (West) with a total of 17.37 lakh voters.
“People should keep the individual and his personal ideology in mind while voting. People have seen the way I operate. I respect women. I have five sisters, and always worked for women empowerment. By supporting my ideology, SP is ready for transformation, one that will be led by Akhilesh Yadav and me, so people should give SP a chance,” he said.
However, Farhan does not think he needs to quit a party whose senior leaders hold such strong views that are contrary to his own. “SP is a free democratic party, everyone is free to share their views. When the party supports my ideology as well, what is the need to quit?” he added.
Meanwhile, his opponents are condemning the ideology of the party and using the opportunity to dissuade voters from voting for the SP. Abu Azmi’s statements showed the medieval mentality of the party, said AAP candidate Phiroze Palkhivala. “Voters will now think twice before voting, in fact there is no chance in hell that level-headed voters will vote for the SP. Such ideologies are dangerous,” said Palkhivala.
His other two women opponents, Poonam Mahajan and Priya Dutt, also expressed outrage over Azmi’s statement.
“It is absolutely shameful when an elected representative still under oath to protect the constitution disrespects women,” said Mahajan. Meanwhile, Priya Dutt launched veiled attacks on the BJP and SP, saying, “While one party talks about revenge, another wants to put women safety at risk. People are now voting for their safety and do not want to get divided over communal lines. People will give such parties a fitting reply through their votes,” said Dutt.
Muslim clerics condemn Mulayam’s comment, support Azmi
Though Muslim clerics on Friday condemned Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh’s comment that “death penalty for rape is unfair”, they noted that sex out of marriages is prohibited in Islam, supporting the remarks of the party’s Mumbai chief that “women who have pre-marital sex should be punished”. “As far as Abu Azmi’s statement on couples having sex outside marriage goes, it is right because the same is prohibited in Islam. However, he is wrong on the severity of the punishment. Mulayam is wrong when he says rapists should be let off. Rape is a heinous crime and they deserve punishment,” said Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi of the All-India Ulema Council. Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi of the All India Shia Personal Law Board said Mulayam Singh’s views would only encourage criminals. “I am happy that the Indian government has made the laws stringent,” said Rizvi.Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi, chief of Jamiat-ul-Ulema, said, “If we look at Mulayam’s statement from a humanitarian point of view, it is absolutely wrong”.