Shias from across the country gathered at Jantar Mantar here on Wednesday to protest against the alleged persecution of Shia Muslims in Iraq after violence broke out last week. About 3,000 youths have volunteered to go to Iraq and help with rescue operations.
More than 400 Shia Muslims from Delhi, Aligarh, Punjab and neighbouring areas arrived in Delhi on Wednesday evening after religious groups called for a “unified resistance against the persecution of Shia” community in Iraq. A large number of students of Delhi University (DU) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) also participated in the protest.
Speaking to Newsline, Maulana Mohsin Taqvi, who leads Friday prayers at the Shia mosque in Kashmere Gate in Old Delhi, said the protest was an attempt to “protect” the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf, two of the holiest sites for Shias worldwide.
“The terror Al-Qaeda is spreading in Iraq and elsewhere in the world is against the tenets of Islam. Karbala is our sacred site, where the battle leading to the martyrdom of Imam Hussein took place several centuries ago. Najaf is also one of our holiest sites, housing the shrine of Imam Ali. We will talk to the Indian government to take strict action in this regard. This is also a message to our Shia brothers that we are there for them morally and will not shy away from extending any support whatsoever that they need,” Taqvi said.
As the maulana addressed the crowd and urged them to “morally support” Iraqi Shia Muslims, he was greeted with loud cheers, with many youth proclaiming to lay down their lives for the “cause”.
According to one of the organisers, Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, more than 3,000 youths from all over India have enlisted themselves in the registration for going to Iraq. “Online registrations are pouring in constantly. Here, almost 300 people gave their names for going to Iraq. We will submit this list to the Iraqi embassy and in case the need arises, we will go to Iraq and fight the insurgents, who are killing innocent people…,” Naqvi said.
Syed Ali Rizvi (25), who studies accountancy, said the situation in Iraq raises “important concerns” about the security situation worldwide. “We are aware of the situation in Iraq and the kind of problems people are facing… We expect the Modi government to exert pressure on Iraq and take strict action in this regard. If possible, we will go to Iraq and take arms training to fight and protect innocent people,” he said.