Influential Sunni Muslim cleric Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliyar has sparked controversy by advocating that women must not raise slogans, clench their fists and hit the streets in the ongoing anti-citizenship law protests across the country. He made the remarks in an interview to Asianet News, a Malayalam-language news channel, in Kozhikode.
When asked about his opinion on the involvement of women in public protests against the citizenship law in the state, the cleric responded, “Our view is that women must not hit the streets, unlike men. They must not clench their fists or raise slogans. However, when a situation arises where the support of women has to be declared, then their backing has to be proved, that’s all. Otherwise, they don’t need to hit the streets for protests.”
Aboobacker Musliyar is India’s Grand Mufti, general secretary of the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama and chancellor of the Jamia Markaz group of institutions. The 88-year-old leads the AP faction of Samastha, the biggest Muslim body of scholars and clerics in Kerala. Though Samastha was a united body for many decades after its origin in 1924, it is currently split into three factions.
The Muslim cleric’s comments come at a time when women, in large numbers, have led some of the biggest protests in the country against the citizenship law over the last two months, including the one in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi which is nearing 50 days. In Kerala too, women, rising above religious and caste differences, have taken part in demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act, that seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from three countries.
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