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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Mumbai’s Raza Academy which complained against BJP’s Nupur Sharma is no stranger to controversies

The academy has come to be identified with protests organised by Muslims across Mumbai. It burnt effigies of writer Salman Rushdie in 1999 following the release of his book ‘The Satanic Verses’ and issued a "fatwa" against music composer A R Rahman in 2015.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai |
Updated: May 29, 2022 5:17:28 pm
raza academy, china Uyghur Muslims prosecution, china muslims prosecution, Uyghur Muslims china, mumbai Uyghur Muslims prosecution protestsRaza Academy's Mohammed Saeed Noori. PTI Photo by Shahbaz Khan

The Mumbai police on Saturday booked BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma allegedly over remarks she made against Prophet Mohammed during a news debate. The FIR was registered based on a complaint by the joint secretary of the Raza Academy in Mumbai.

Founded in 1978 by Muhammad Saeed Noorie and a few others, the Raza Academy was set up for printing and publishing books primarily written by Ahmed Raza Khan, founder of the Barelvi sect that has a considerable following in South Asia, and other Sunni Muslim writers on religion. Noorie has remained president of the organisation since 1986.

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As per the website of Raza Academy, “it was also established for educational awareness among minorities, for raising voice against atrocities on the minorities and for all minority related matters.” It has an office in South Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road.

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The academy is not associated with any academic work of note but, over a period of time, it has come to be identified with protests organised by Muslims across Mumbai. Recently, Raza Academy called for protests in Maharashtra against anti-Muslim violence in Tripura where an incident of stone pelting was reported. Its links had also emerged during the 2012 Azad Maidan riots in Mumbai.

In the past, Raza Academy was involved in burning effigies of writer Salman Rushdie in Mumbai in 1999 after he was granted a visa to visit India. Rushdie was facing a fatwa following the release of his book The Satanic Verses. Another regular target of Raza Academy is Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen whose visit to Mumbai faced protests by the outfit that also tried to disrupt a programme featuring her in the city.

The Raza Academy has also protested against the BBC for using a picture of Prophet Mohammad in one of its videos. In 2015, the group issued a “fatwa” against music composer A R Rahman and Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi in connection with the latter’s film “Muhammad: Messenger of God”. Rahman was working on the film at the time.

Apart from the controversies, as per news reports, Raza Academy with permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) facilitated the burial of Muslims who died of Covid-19. The academy says it also provided aid during the 2018 Kerala floods.

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