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

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.

At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

Updated 23 min 33 sec ago

At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

  • Police are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive
  • ‘Threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province’

DUBAI: At least three people have been killed and five others injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht, in The Netherlands on Monday morning.

Dutch security forces were hunting for a 37-year-old Turkish man in connection with the incident, in what authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack. The city's mayor confirmed the death of three people on Monday afternoon.

"At this stage, we can confirm three deaths and nine wounded, three of them seriously," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said in a video statement on Twitter. The number of injured was later reduced to five.

"We are working on the principle that it was a terrorist attack," he added.

Police forces walk near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP/ANP)

Dozens of armed police plus canine units later surrounded a building a few hundred metres away, an AFP reporter at the scene said, but it was not clear if the gunman was inside.

Police said they believed a red Renault Clio had been carjacked around the time of the shooting and had been found abandoned later.

The Utrecht municipality said it advised "everyone to stay indoors until more is known, new incidents are not excluded," but this was withdrawn at around 4:30pm local time. The local hospital said it had set up a crisis centre. Tram traffic in the area was halted.

Emergency services stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP)

Authorities raised the terrorism threat to its highest level in Utrecht province, schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure, and also at mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident.

Utrecht Police tweeted an image of a man named Gökmen Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the  National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Counter-terrorism forces have surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local broadcaster NOS News reported.

There was gunfire at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Dutch anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 

“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 

“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

A hotline to address queries about the situation. The Netherlands has one of the strictest gun laws and ownership is limited to law enforcement, hunters and target shooters.

Local media reports have said counter-terrorism police were seen at the scene.

“Shooting incident... Several injured people reported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht police Twitter account said. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop. Tram traffic was temporarily stopped due to the incident, but the trams are currently running again between Zuilenstein, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.

(With AFP and Reuters)