Death of a good leader

Updated 07 March 2017
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Death of a good leader

The late Indian leader Syed Shahabuddin was a distinguished parliamentarian. Even though he achieved too little in politics, he was free from all the avarice prevalent in Indian public life. It is well known that no political party, including that of Indira Gandhi, could win him over and buy him at any price. He was successful in bringing awareness to Indian Muslims regarding their infallible right to negotiate for their constitutional rights without becoming the fodder of vote-bank politics.
He was the epitome of the collective angst of Indian Muslim suffering, simmering since independence but obviously without the force of a long-lasting mass movement. The Indian political system was not ready to impart even constitutional rights to its religious minorities and Babri Masjid was the embodiment of this blatant prejudice.
Shahabuddin was ahead of his time. The Indian Muslim community was incapable of taking advantage of his intellect in parliamentary democracy. He was certainly not a mass leader or a demagogue but rather a sincere thinker with great cognitive power.
His journal, “Muslim India,” is a testament to the discrimination suffered by Muslims in democratic India: In the economy, jobs, education, the share in governmental benefits, social uplift, judicial apathy, the extinction of their culture and language, non-participation in policy-making, inadequate representation in parliamentary politics, de-listing of Muslim backward classes from the list of reserved castes, the high-handedness of the delimitation commission, manipulation of census reports, tribulation in communal carnage, non-presence of any mechanism for dispensing justice to the victims of communal carnage, etc. It was he who brought all such issues to the forefront of Indian politics without mincing words. This was anathema in free India.
Whether Indian Muslims agree or disagree, it is a fact that Shahabuddin gave a voice to Muslims so they could be heard on issues which were swept under the carpet by mainstream political parties. For this, we owe him a lot and we can learn much from his “Muslim India.”


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