Controversial ‘Triple Talaq’ bill angers Muslims in India

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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party says the bill is all about ‘gender justice,’ a claim rejected by India’s Muslim community. (AP)
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An Indian Muslim woman covers her face with hand as she walks through a busy market in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP)
Updated 29 December 2018
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Controversial ‘Triple Talaq’ bill angers Muslims in India

  • Divorce rates in that community, he claimed, are actually lower than among those of other religions
  • BJP is trying to do is to simply address their core Hindu supporters by saying that we can harm Muslims in such a fashion,” Kamal Farooqui said

NEW DELHI: Muslims in India described the “Triple Talaq” bill passed by Parliament’s Lower House on Thursday as an attempt to persecute Muslims by criminalizing instant divorce.
The lower house, which is dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — known for supporting Hindu-nationalist policies — passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) bill, 2018 despite vociferous protests from opposition parties.
The bill — popularly known as the Triple Talaq bill — criminalizes “instant divorce,” the practice whereby a Muslim husband can divorce his wife simply by saying “talaq” three times. The bill means that any man doing so will face jail if a complaint is filed against him by any of the wife’s relatives.
The All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWAA), a coalition of 40 women’s rights organizations, called the bill “myopic,” saying that it does not address “other issues of women’s economic and social security.”
“It is purely a communal agenda of the BJP government,” said AIPWAA’s leader Kavita Krishnan. “This government has communalized gender issues. The BJP’s idea is not to protect Muslim women, but to attack Muslim men by creating another law under which men from minority communities are criminalized and demonized.”
While the president of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaista Amber said she opposes the criminalization of divorce, she added that the bill had a positive side, as “it will deter men from arbitrarily deserting their wife.”
“If the bill was not passed now it would embolden men from the Muslim community to indulge in divorce and cruelty against their women,” she claimed. “Despite the Supreme Court verdict, men used triple talaq to divorce women. Therefore, I support the bill, despite my objection,” Amber told Arab News.
Amber, who is considered a supporter of the BJP, added: “I know the BJP is an extremely anti-Muslim party, but my question is: What did other secular parties, like Congress, do for Muslim women when they were in power?”
Kamal Farooqui, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said the bill is “one more attempt to persecute the Muslim minority,” and “an attempt to humiliate and pressurize the Muslim community.”
Divorce rates in that community, he claimed, are actually lower than among those of other religions. “Actually what the BJP is trying to do is to simply address their core Hindu supporters by saying that we can harm Muslims in such a fashion,” he said. “They have already been harming Muslims by denying them the right to offer pray in public parks, by lynching them in the name of saving cows, and so on.”
Mahmood Madani, general-secretary of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, one of India’s leading Islamic organizations, called the government’s intentions “suspect.”
“We don’t trust this government. The decision to pass the Triple Talaq bill has been made with very bad intentions, and it is very wrong on the part of the government,” he told Arab News.
“The bill is a part of the government’s political agenda. It has promised a lot to the people, and it has failed miserably. So now it is resorting to these kind of tactics.”
Chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission Zafarul Islam said, “It’s wrong on the part of the BJP government to interfere with the personal law of another religion. This is not good for the larger interest of the community.”
President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Asaduddin Owaisi said: “The government did not have a problem when the Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality. It did not have a problem when adultery was decriminalized. But it wants to criminalize triple talaq.”
The BJP, however, says that the bill is all about “gender justice.”
“Muslim women have long suffered due to corrupt practices adopted my males to divorce them on slightest pretext. The bill is just a follow-up of the Supreme Court judgement,” BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma told Arab News.
“Congress and other opposition parties are making this about politics in the hope that Muslim men will support them. But we knew there would be resistance against any change, and we are willing to pay the price for gender justice.”

Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay suggested that by passing the bill, “the BJP wants to send a message to their Hindu constituency that they are fixing the Muslims.”
“In an election year, BJP voters might think that even if the BJP has not delivered much in the last five years, it has at least shown Muslims ‘their place,’” he opined. “The BJP knows this is the dominant thinking among Hindus in states like Uttar Pradesh, which is crucial to their election chances.
“The BJP also wants to fix other opposition parties, particularly the Congress Party, and portray them, basically, as anti-Hindu parties that survive through Muslim appeasement,” the analyst continued.
The bill now goes to the upper house, where the Congress-led opposition parties have a majority. It is expected to face stiff resistance there.
“The core committee of the Congress party will take the call how to deal with the bill,” said Tom Vadakkan, national spokesperson of the Congress Party.


Four charged over MH17, Russia slams ‘unfounded allegations’

Updated 52 min 27 sec ago
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Four charged over MH17, Russia slams ‘unfounded allegations’

  • Investigation team said in May 2018 that BUK anti-aircraft missile which hit Boeing 777 had originated from 53rd Russian military brigade
  • One of the accused Girkin, who is thought to be living in Moscow, denied the separatists were involved

NIEUWGEIN: International investigators on Wednesday charged three Russians and a Ukrainian with murder over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the first people to face justice over the tragedy five years ago in which 298 people were killed.
The trial of the four men with military and intelligence links will start in the Netherlands in March next year, although they are likely to be tried in absentia as neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites their nationals.
Moscow slammed the “absolutely unfounded accusations” over the downing of the plane, which was traveling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a missile over part of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels.
The Dutch-led inquiry team said international arrest warrants had been issued for Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, all of whom are suspected of roles in the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic.
Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the four were to be held responsible for bringing the BUK missile system from Russia into eastern Ukraine “even though they have not pushed the button themselves.”
“We won’t demand their extradition because Russian and Ukrainian law forbids the extradition of their nationals. But we ask Russia once more to cooperate — many of our questions remain unanswered,” he told a press conference.
The same investigation team said in May 2018 that the BUK anti-aircraft missile which hit the Boeing 777 had originated from the 53rd Russian military brigade based in the southwestern city of Kursk.
Relatives of those killed aboard MH17 welcomed the news.
“It’s a start. I’m satisfied,” Silene Fredriksz, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the disaster, told reporters. “I am happy that the trial is finally going to start and that the names have been announced.”
Asked if she personally blamed anyone for the crash, Fredriksz said: “Mr (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Because he made this possible. He created this situation. He is the main responsible person.”
Piet Ploeg, president of a Dutch victims’ association who lost three family members on MH17, told AFP that it was “very important news.”
“The relatives of the victims have been waiting for this for nearly five years,” he said.
Girkin, 48, is the most high-profile suspect, having previously been the self-proclaimed defense minister in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine before apparently falling out with the Kremlin.
Girkin, who is thought to be living in Moscow, denied the separatists were involved. “I can only say that rebels did not shoot down the Boeing,” he told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Dubinskiy, 56, who was formerly in the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, was head of the intelligence service of the Donetsk People’s Republic, while Pulatov, 52, an ex-soldier in the GRU’s Spetznaz special forces unit, was one of his deputies.
Kharchenko was a military commander in Donetsk at the time, the Dutch prosecutors said.
During the press conference by the investigators, number of telephone intercepts were played that they said showed the four were involved.
Russia vehemently denied all involvement, and complained that it had been excluded from the probe.
“Once again, absolutely unfounded accusations are being made against the Russian side, aimed at discrediting Russia in the eyes of the international community,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
Russia insisted last year that the missile was fired by Kiev’s forces, adding that it was sent to Ukraine in the Soviet era.
Despite claims by Ukraine’s government and Dutch media that senior Russian officers would also face charges, none were named by the prosecutors on Wednesday.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the attack includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, representing the countries hardest hit by the disaster.
The Netherlands and Australia said in May last year that they formally “hold Russia responsible” for the disaster. Of the passengers who died, 196 were Dutch and 38 Australian.
Australia said Wednesday’s announcement was a “significant step” toward achieving justice, while NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said it was “an important milestone in the efforts to uncover the full truth.”
Ukraine’s foreign ministry urged Russia to “acknowledge its responsibility,” while the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s said he hoped to see “everyone who is to blame for the murder of innocent children, women and men” go on trial.
The war in eastern Ukraine and the MH17 disaster continue to plague relations between Russia and the West.
Since 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed. Kiev and its Western backers accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms to back the separatists. Moscow has denied the claims despite evidence to the contrary.