Death of a stalwart

Updated 05 March 2017
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Death of a stalwart

With the death of Indian Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin, a stalwart is gone. A great intellectual is no more. He articulated Indian Muslim causes with both pen and speech that left people dumbstruck.
When he contested the Bangalore North Lok Sabha seat decades ago, I had many occasions to interact with him. On election day when anyone reported to him that people were voting for him multiple times by erasing the ink stains, and by faking identities, he would go into a rage. As head of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, he would not only work for free, he even refused reimbursements for his fuel.
He once told me in Riyadh that one should never take money for public service, and not get into it unless one was fully financially independent. At that time he was 70, and was still working tirelessly. For 25 years as general secretary of the Janata Party, he drew no salary.
His fiery temperament did cause discomfort to many of his friends as well, but his integrity was not questioned by even his worst detractors. When people say that all politicians are corrupt, they will have to make him an exception. Syed Shahabuddin was a very notable exception. As also was his dear friend, the late Ibrahim Sulaiman Sait. He loved India and would not tolerate anyone who showed any signs of treason, even in the most trying moments in the community’s history.
An era has ended. May Allah grant his soul peace and comfort in gardens prepared for the upright and the strugglers in His cause.


Cartoon in bad taste

Updated 07 August 2017
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Cartoon in bad taste

I wish to use my “right of reply” to complain about the unfortunate caricature that appeared on Aug. 5, 2017, in your well-known newspaper. The cartoon represents President Nicolas Maduro sitting on a military tank and a hand coming out of the tank’s cannon writing on a book titled “New Constitution.” Such a caricature is offensive to my country.
What the caricature seems to imply is that President Maduro wants to rewrite a new constitution with the power of arms. This is totally false. It is immoral to give your readers such a forged image of Venezuela and its constitutionally- and democratically-elected government.
The revision of our constitution, which is among the best in the world, is mainly to reinforce it and make it more adaptable to the new times. It is not an imposition of our president; it has been backed by more than 8 million Venezuelans and has the objective of re-establishing the peace process that has been trampled by a violent opposition backed by interested foreign countries that pretend to give orders to our sovereign populace.
I fail to understand why some international media report fake news about my country, with the purpose of undermining our sovereignty, and the people of Venezuela’s absolute right to decide, in a free and independent manner, how it wants to conduct its internal affairs.
I invite your newspaper to inform about our country with the truth and the same respect that we, in Venezuela, treat to our brothers of Saudi Arabia.

Joseba Achutegui
Ambassador of Venezuela
Riyadh
Saudi Arabia